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We moved Concordia Lutheran Mission from Lexington to Buena Vista because we were led to find a great rental property.  We have now worshipped in our new location three Sundays, including today.  One of our members told me about going to the Habitat for Humanity Re-Sale store in Buena Vista and some of his finds for the Mission, but he also told me something else. Our brother was talking with the clerk and he told the clerk that he was looking for stuff for our new mission.  The  clerk responded by saying that you are the new mission which is against gays and women and won’t let them serve in church.  Our brother responded by saying, we’re not against homosexuals but homosexuality is against the Bible. The clerk responded by saying that he would not be able to help him.

In a small town, our reputation has preceded us without preaching against homosexuality or stating anything about  the Scriptures in the public square.  Yet, the reputation of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod precedes and I am glad for that.  I asked our brother this morning to tell the congregation what happened, all 8 of us.  A fearful army indeed!  I then talked with the congregation after our brother told his story and we all had a chance to say something.    You can not be for the marriage of man and woman, or a pastorate of called men, without incurring the mistrust and even wrath and being labeled “homophobic” or “sexist” these days.  Then I thought of this passage and said we should all memorize this and take this Scripture to heart:

 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians  6)

The Law of God is plain in verses 9-11 and the Gospel begins with the word “And such were some of you.” Baptism is our washing and regeneration in Christ, made holy, justified.  My wife reminded me that the Lord came not to justify ungodliness but the ungodly.  It is the Word of Law and Promise that the world and the devil does not want to be heard because the Lord changes and saves us by His grace alone: And such were some of you. 

As I was about to leave the parking lot with our VMI ‘rat’ to go home, retired Pastor, Art Henne, came over to the car.  I opened the car door (the window doesn’t work!), and Art said to me, “You know, Mark, maybe this is the reason we are here.”

A blessed Lord’s Day to you and your pastor and your congregation!

 

Almighty God, our Father, Your blessed Son called Luke the physician to be an evangelist and physician of the soul. Grant that the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments may put to flight the diseases of our souls that with willing hearts we may ever love and serve You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Lessons for the Day:

Psalm 147:1-7
Isaiah 35:5-8
2 Timothy 4:5-15
Luke 10:1-9

Biblical Bio:   

St. Luke, the beloved physician referred to by St. Paul (Colossians4:14), presents us with Jesus, whose blood provides the medicine of immortality. As his traveling companion, Paul claimed Luke’s Gospel as his own for its healing of souls (Eusebius). Luke traveled with Paul during the second missionary journey, joining him after Paul received his Macedonian call to bring the Gospel to Europe (Acts16:10-17).  Luke most likely stayed behind in Philippi for seven years, rejoining Paul at the end of the third missionary journey inMacedonia. He traveled with Paul to Troas, Jerusalem, and Caesarea, where Paul was imprisoned for two years (Acts 20:5-21:18). While in Caesarea, Luke may have researched material that he used in his Gospel. Afterward, Luke accompanied Paul on his journey to Rome (Acts 27:1-28:16). Especially beloved in Luke’s Gospel are:

  • the stories of the Good Samaritan ( Luke 16:29-37),
  • the prodigal son (Luke15:11-32),
  • the rich man and Lazarus  (Luke16:19-31),
  • and the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).
  • Only Luke provides a detailed account of Christ’s birth (Luke 2:1-20)
  • and the canticles of Mary (Luke1:46-55),
  • of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79),
  • and, Simeon (Luke2:29-32).

To show how Christ continued His work in the Early Church through the apostles, Luke also penned the Acts of the Apostles. More than one-third of the New Testament comes from the hand of the evangelist Luke.  (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:

St. Luke, the beloved physician (see Colossians 4: 14) traveled with Paul on his missionary journeys (see Acts 16: 10-17;  20: 5—21:18; Acts 27: 1—28: 16).  The early church historian, Eusebius (born AD 263) said that Paul claimed Luke’s Gospel as his own for its healing of souls.  Luke wrote both the Gospel that bears his name and Acts of the Apostles.  This means that St. Luke wrote over a third of the New Testament!  It is only from him that we read of the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.  And both have the theme of  travel.  In fact, Luke/Acts is like one extended travelogue.  In Luke 9: 51 we are told, “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem…”(New King James) And the phrase “it came to pass” means a solemn change in the direction of the narrative.   From that verse the travelogue begins with an intense focus:  Jerusalem and Holy Week.  All the Gospel readings this summer have been from this section of the Gospel 9: 51 to the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, beginning at 19: 29.  It is a meandering journey with many incidences and people and places and confrontations and comforts. 

We Americans love to travel and most of our forebears traveled great distances to arrive to these good shores.  We still love to travel:  get in the car and “hit the road”.  “The road ever leads onward” (JRR Tolkien) applies to us. Getting on the interstate or the secondary roads and the scenic routes  and all of them are markedwith signs. 

 We all have known dead ends.  Funny thing: so many dead ends we keep on pursuing: drugs, money, fame, sex, power, pornography etc, ad nauseum.  We keep on going down dead ends.  St. Paul knew this very well: “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.   Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.   I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.   For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.   But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”  (Romans 7: 19ff)  Think St. Paul knew about going down dead ends, even after his conversion and baptism? 

Paul needed to turn back. “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  (Romans  7: 24-25)  He was going the wrong way.  But there is only One that kept him on the road:   Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit through His Word.

By grace alone Paul made a:   

 

Repentance is a u-turn.  Going the right way.  His Law shows us the wrong way and His Gospel His Way of repentance and forgiveness.  And truly, this is when the saying is applicable: “But by the grace of God, go I”. In the Lord’s Word of grace and the Sacraments, the means of grace is kind of like this sign:

St. Luke saw many people re-directed from death, sin and the power of the devil because of Jesus Christ. Luke was told the Lord’s travel itinerary for the Church: 

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1)

This is about the Lord leading us to His kingdom and the fulfillment of the new creation in Christ Jesus. Now there is much I could both write and say about this theme of the travelogue.  But one more:  ever heard this saying:  “It is better to travel hopefully, than to arrive”? What a bunch of baloney!  Whoever said that did not have children in the back seat of the car or carriage.  What is the number 1 question kids ask on a trip?  Yes:  “Are we there yet?”  Imagine quoting that saying at them?!  Children know here:  it is about the destination and the One who is leading us there and others, who are lost, found  by Lord upon His Way (see Luke 15!). 

 

There is a distinct difference and a specific teaching as to one’s obligation to God and to Caesar. But the world is so evil that all this is turned topsy-turvy. Today no one wants to be obedient to the government. Moreover, if a few devout Christians want to be obedient, the government is not satisfied to limit itself to its realm, but interferes in the realm which is God’s and uses its power against Christ and His Gospel, overtly vaunting itself to hold and to rule over the kingdom of God and Christ.

From Dr. Martin Luther’s Sermon on St. Matthew 22: 15-22, 23rd Sunday after Trinity, 1529,  Luther’s House Postils

 

“Glorious is God with His saints and angels: Oh, come let us worship Him.”

Almighty God, we praise Your Name for Ignatius of Antioch, pastor and martyr.  He offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts so that he might present to You the pure bread of sacrifice.  Accept the willing tribute of all that we are and all that we have, and give us a portion in the pure and unspotted offering of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About Ignatius: He was the bishop of Antioch in Syria at the beginning of the second century A.D. and an early Christian martyr. Near the end of the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan (98–117), Ignatius was arrested, taken in chains to Rome, and eventually thrown to the wild beasts in the arena. On the way to Rome, he wrote letters to the Christians at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, and Smyrna, and also to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. In the letters, which are beautifully pastoral in tone, Ignatius warned against certain heresies (false teachings). He also repeatedly stressed the full humanity and deity of Christ, the reality of Christ’s bodily presence in the Lord’s Supper, the supreme authority of the bishop, and the unity of the Church found in her bishops. Ignatius was the first to use the word catholic to describe the universality of the Church. His Christ-centeredness, his courage in the face of martyrdom, and his zeal for the truth over against false doctrine are a lasting legacy to the Church.  (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

The Apostle Paul was probably martyred between A.D. 64-67.  Ignatius became the 2nd Bishop of Antioch in A.D. 69.   Antioch was the city from which Paul and Barnabas began their great missionary journey as recorded in Acts 13-14.  Ignatius is a direct link to the apostles and the apostolic doctrine.  (information from The Apostolic Fathers, edited by Jack Sparks)

Some have written that Christian doctrine evolved from the original sayings of Jesus  into the Christianity we have today. But given the chronological proximity of Ignatius to the Apostolic era, this can not be so and especially when we read his letters.  In them,  it is clear that Ignatius and the earlier Church were continuing the apostolic doctrine as taught verbatim by Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, as  the continuation and fulfilment of the Old Testament.

Reflection:

One of first great crises of the earlier Church was when the last of the 12 Apostles died.  Who could ever replace them?  Already the Lord provided the answer: bishops.   When I hear the word “bishop”, visions of churchly finery come to mind:  croziers, mitres, elaborate vestments and the like.  Not in the 1st  century nor for next 2-3 centuries!  Bishop is the word used  to translate  the New Testament Greek:  episcopos which means “overseer”, one who provides oversight to the doctrine and faith of the congregation.  An “episcopos” preached and administered the Sacraments which means a bishop is  a pastor.  He presided at the Table of the Lord.

In the Roman Empire, there were many gods and goddesses and their temples and shrines were massive and impressive and they held elaborate and overwhelming services in them.  A Christian episcopos presided over a simple meal of  bread and wine, announcing this is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  He preached the Word of Law and Gospel to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted.  Nothing outwardly impressive, yet by such the Lord spread His Word as He had promised He would “to the ends of the earth”.   The Word of Jesus Christ was so spread against overwhelming odds without gimmicks, strategies, mission models, massive denomination budgets, etc.  (insight courtesy of Rev. Prof. Hermann Sasse)

For Ignatius the central  aspect of the Church was unity with the bishop, the pastor in the preaching and teaching of the Scripture and administration of the Sacraments, according to the Apostolic Doctrine set forth in the Holy Scriptures.:

“…it is fitting for you  run your race together with the bishop’s purpose–as you do.  For your presbytery–worthy of fame, worthy of God–is attuned to the bishop  like strings to a lyre.  Therefore by your unity and harmonious love Jesus Christ is sung.”

The episcopos was to give oversight but not to overlook false doctrine.  Case in point:   Ignatius warns the Church in Smyrna about  the docetists. ‘Docetist’  means ‘appearance’ and they said that Jesus only appeared to be a man but was only God  and so they changed the clear meaning of Scripture and they denied the Body and the Blood. And so Ignatius warns the Smyrnaens about them and their teaching on Holy Communion:

“They abstain from Eucharist and prayer because they do not acknowledge that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ which suffered for our sins, which the Father raised by his goodness. Those who deny God’s gift are dying in their squabbles; it would be better for them to love so that they may rise. It is fitting to keep away from such men and not to speak about them either privately or publicly, but to pay attention to the prophets and especially to the Gospel, in which the passion has been explained to us and the resurrection has been accomplished. Flee from divisions as the beginning of evils.”

What is the Biblical and evangelical understanding of the Lord’s Supper in relation to our lives and souls in His Church?

“Be eager, therefore, to use one Eucharist–for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup for union with the blood (cf. 1 Cor. 10: 16), one sanctuary, as there is one bishop, together with the presbytery and the deacons my fellow slaves–so that whatever you, you do in relation to God (cf. 1 Cor. 10: 31;  Col. 3: 17)

Furthermore, the docetists believed Jesus was purely “spiritual” and He could not give us His Body and Blood.  Using an oft-used phrase in our day, they were not religious but ‘spiritual’. Sound familiar? Maybe Ignatius was too negative?  Maybe he should have ‘dialogued’ with them and formed a Bishop’s Study Task Force of Ecumenical Dialogue with Docetism?  Of course not.  Ignatius did a pastor’s work.   The heretics are actually the ones who want Christian doctrine to ‘evolve’, actually devolve into something totally different and more to their liking and their flesh and so it is no longer saving doctrine. It is as old as Israel finding more suitable deities in the Baals.   This is the devil’s work.   The only conversation is to warn and  the call to repentance and the true Faith, clinging to Jesus Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father in His Church. As Ignatius wrote to the  Magnesians:

As, then, the Lord did nothing apart from the Father [cf. John 5:19; 8:28], either by himself or through the apostles, since he was united with him [cf. John 10:30; 17:11,21,22], so you must do nothing apart from the bishop and the presbyters. Do not try to make anything appear praiseworthy by yourselves, but let there be in common one prayer, one petition, one mind, one hope in love, in blameless joy—which is Jesus Christ, than whom nothing is better [cf. John 10:16; Eph. 4:3-6]. 2. All of you must run together as to one temple of God, as to one sanctuary, to one Jesus Christ, who proceeded from the one Father and is with the one and departed to the one [cf. John 8:42;14:12,28; 16:10,17

On the 4th Commandment, Honor thy father and thy mother, from  Teaching Luther’s Catechism: Volume I, by Herbert Girgensohn (Muhlenberg Press, 1959):

Where the commandment is observed there is an inner authority in the relationship of parents and children. This is always determinative in living together in the family and in education. But once the God-relationship is taken away from the human relationship, then it is person against person, even in the family and education, and the latent, though often manifest, struggle between them is ultimately decided by superior physical strength —at first in favor of the parents when the family relationship is barely maintained, but later in favor of the children who throw off all restraint. It means the destruction of the family.

Christ has ordered me that I give Caesar what is Caesar’s, but I must not give him what is God’s. Life and goods I should yield to the emperor, but when the emperor is not satisfied with that, but demands my soul as well, I must say, Dear emperor, it is not in your domain to demand this! Produce document and seal to prove that such has been entrusted to you! If the emperor considers this an act of disobedience then I will have to suffer.

From Dr. Martin Luther’s Sermon on St. Matthew 22: 15-22, 23rd Sunday after Trinity, 1529,  Luther’s House Postils

 

 

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