The Pharisees, as all Pharisees, are those who trust in their works to save. Thy are the ‘good’ people. They will tell you as much ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ (Luke 18: 9-14, Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector). Sounds so much of what goes for Christianity, sadly enough. As a pastor I would want a congregation of fasters and especially tithers, that is, a congregation of Pharisees, but thank the Lord He does not grant that prayer.
I cannot imagine after being blind since birth and then seeing again to be so investigated by so many good people. I saw in a meme this past week which shows a man with a real quizzical, sarcastic face with the statement: “Not going to church because of the ‘hypocrites’ is like not going to the gym because of “out of shape people”. I have heard folks say that I do not like to go church because of all the good people. Sounds like too much like Christianity and that’s wrong. Pharisees did not want to be forgiven people in Jesus Christ. We are by His grace alone, a congregation of forgiven sinners. We were darkness, not merely doing a dark thing or two, wrote the Apostle; and so walk as children of the light, that is, children of God baptized into Christ (Ephesians 5:8-14). How can we walk as children of light? Because in Baptism we are “light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8). Only He can raise the dead, give light to the darkened, see the man born blind, see Saul of Tarsus, Peter, James, John, Lydia, the Philippians Jailer…you, me. We need His light, the light of the Word: preached, taught, administered, prayed, served in order to so walk, protected by the Lord according to His Word, against all enemies, even our flesh. His Word is the light of the world. At the end of the Gospel the seeing man is at the feet of Jesus worshiping Him, the glory and truth of the Father in the communion of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus speaks with the Pharisees, protected by the Lord.
At the end of John 9, the seeing man is worshiping at the feet of Jesus, probably at His feet and the Pharisees are still taking pot shots. Jesus is protecting him. We are told that Jesus went in search of the formerly blind beggar. Jesus teaches, I am the Good Shepherd, I go search of the lost (John 10). Jesus found the now seeing man. He protects him from the barbs of the self-righteous and all the wolves seeking to devour the flock. Jesus and the worshiping and seeing man is the icon, the picture of the Church. “For, thank God, today a child seven years old knows what the Church is, namely, the holy believers and lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd. For the children pray thus: I believe in one holy Christian Church.”(Book of Concord, Smalcald Articles)
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 fourth session.-Pr. Schroeder
Merciful Father, through Holy Baptism You called us to be Your own possession. Grant that our lives may evidence the working of Your Holy Spirit in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, according to the image of Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior.
From The Lutheran Service Book: Holy Baptism, page 268ff, Luther’s “Flood Prayer”:
Almighty and eternal God, according to Your strict judgment You condemned the unbelieving world through the flood, yet according to Your great mercy You preserved believing Noah and his family, eight souls in all. You drowned heart-hearted Pharaoh and all his host in the Red Sea, yet led Your people Israel through the water on dry ground, prefiguring this washing of Your Holy Baptism. Through the Baptism in the Jordan of Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, You sanctified and instituted all waters to be a blessed flood, and a lavish washing away of sin.
We pray that You would behold name according to Your boundless mercy and bless him with true faith by the Holy Spirit that through this saving flood all sin in him which has been inherited from Adam and which he himself has committed since would be drowned and die. Grant that he be kept safe and secure in the holy ark of the Christian Church, being separated from the multitude of unbelievers and serving Your name at all times with a fervent spirit and a joyful hope, so that, with all believers in Your promise, he would be declared worthy of eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
1) Pray the Fourth Chief Part
i) Emphasis of Sections:
(a) Institution of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism God’s Name: See St. Matthew 28: 19; Numbers 6: 22-27
(b) Relation to Second Commandment, 1st Article of the Creed, and 1st Petition of the Lord’s Prayer
(c) Actual Water
2) Types of Sacraments in General: see Numbers 21:8-10
(a) Old Testament Type of Holy Baptism: see 2 Kings 5: 1-15 “At first, Naaman was furious, thinking that God should use a more spiritual means of cleansing. Yet God willed to attach His Word to the ordinary water of the Jordan.”
(b) Time-conditioned Sacraments
(c) Definition of Sacrament: Christ’s command, Christ’s promise, a visible element (water, wine, bread),
(d) Summation of Bible regarding water and the Word: Luther’s Flood Prayer, see above
3) Question: Can infants and children be baptized?
(a) See St. Matthew 28: 19: “all nations” include infants and children, otherwise our Lord would have said, baptize all adults; see St. Mark 10: 13-16: even adults who are baptized are baptized as children See Acts 2: 39; Acts 16: 15, 33
(b) Denial of Baptism is denial three key Christian Doctrines:
- Doctrine of Original Sin, “If you don’t believe in the doctrine of original sin, then have children” Tree and fruit, so-called “age of accountablility”
- See: Psalm 51: 5; Romans 5: 12, 18-19; Ephesians 2: 3 & 5
- Doctrine of Faith: See Ephesians 2: 8-9; St. Luke 1: 41-44
- Doctrine of God’s Work confused as man’s work. Who asked to be born? Birth is something that is given, just as the New Birth, Baptism: See St. John 3: 5-6; 1 Peter 1: 3, Titus 3: 5-8; Galatians 3: 25-27 One Baptism continued from this life to the next, Romans 6: 3-11, see 3rd Article of the Creed, the resurrection of the body. See last paragraph of Luther’s explanation
Close with The Lord’s Prayer
The Sadducees did not believe in the Resurrection asking Jesus a trick question (St. Mark 12: 18-22). Jesus’ response begins with this post’s verse in the title. The Word of God is the power of God unto salvation and the Resurrection. How could learned men not know? The Sadducees demonstrated their supposed control of the Word and power of God. Eve bought the serpent’s lie: she could “know good and evil”. “Knowledge is power”. Eve thought she could have power like God, controlling good and evil, especially, spirituality. Really? The Sadducees limited God to their understanding. They didn’t know (control) the Word and power of God. God raises the dead, soul and body. Soul: see David, Jeremiah, Paul, you, me. Body: see Lazarus and the son of the widow of Nain. How? His own Son raised for our faith unto eternal life.
Restating the quote: people are never to be used as means but as ends. All this is the second Table of the Law: love your neighbor as yourself. When I read such law statements, I go, Ommmm, or Amen or whatever, absolutely agreeing. I assuage my conscience as I agree. Agreeing is not doing. The Law shows me that I do love things, yes more than God and my neighbor. The bishop’s quote is a good law statement I don’t keep. When it gets down to it, there has only ever been one person who only loved people and used things, perfectly, absolutely: Jesus Christ. In Him there is a daily repentance to Him who gave up all things and took up all our sin. His love is our only hope to so love as He first loved us.
Originally posted on Concordia and Koinonia:
The following quote is by John Bunyan (author of The Pilgrim’s Progress) and it is cited in Treasury of Daily Prayer (CPH):
I find to this day seven abominations in my heart:
(1) An inclination to unbelief.
(2) Suddenly forgetting the love and mercy that Christ shows us.
(3) A leaning to the works of the Law.
(4) Wanderings and coldness in prayer.
(5) Forgetting to watch for that which I have prayed for.
(6) A tendency to murmur because I have no more, and yet a willingness to abuse what I have.
(7) I can do none of those things which God commands me, but my corruptions will thrust themselves upon me so that “When I would do good, evil is present with me.” (see Romans 7: 13-25) These things I continually see and feel and am afflicted and oppressed with; yet the wisdom of God orders them for…
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“(The Church) is the mother that begets and bears every Christian through the Word of God”
(The Large Catechism, from Luther’s teaching on the 3rd Article of The Creed)
I was reminded in my studies today that this Sunday, 4th Sunday in Lent, Laetare, (“Rejoice with Jerusalem!”, from the Introit, Isaiah 10a and 11a, for this Sunday) is in the United Kingdom, “Mothering Sunday”. It was on this Sunday when everyone in the UK would return to the church in which they were baptized, their “mother church” and it eventually became the UK’s Mother’s Day, but unlike our Mother’s Day, I like the direct connection of their Mothering Day with the Church, Baptism and Lent, and the family. I came across this article by Pr. Ristau, (he has a different theme than this article: worth reading!) in which he extensively quotes Meditation XXIII, “The Dignity of the Church”, from Sacred Meditations, by Johann Gerhardt in which Pr. and Prof. Gerhardt uses the Biblical imagery of the Church as our mother:
The holy Church of God sustains the relations of mother, virgin, bride. She is as a mother because she daily bears spiritual sons to God. She is as a chaste virgin, because she keeps herself pure from all unholy alliances with the devil and the world. She is a bride, because Christ hath betrothed her to Himself by an eternal covenant, and hath given to her the pledge of the Spirit.
Our mothers and fathers are of such importance that the Lord sanctified such by the 4th Commandment and being born of His Mother, with Joseph as His faithful stepfather. Luther in his explanation of the 4th Commandment, tellingly wrote this of the crucial nature of mothers and fathers, so much so that,
“…even if we had no father and mother, we ought to wish that God would set up wood and stone before us, whom we might call father and mother. How much more, since He has given us living parents, should we rejoice to show them honor and obedience, because we know it is so highly pleasing to the Divine Majesty and to all angels, and vexes all devils…”
I would suppose those who are orphans, either by death or divorce of their parents might achingly know this. Likewise, without God as our Father, and the Church as the Lord’s Bride, our mother, we DO set up “wood and stone before us”, as idols, false gods and are lost. “No man will have God for his Father who refuses to have the Church for his mother upon earth” (Gerhardt). And this mother does not abort her children nor despise her womb. Just the opposite: The Lord makes us His own through the waters of rebirth (!), as we are baptized into His Body, His Church (cf. 1 Corinthians 11: 1ff).
Indeed, Laetare! And the rejoicing will be consummated when He comes again. I close with another portion of Pr. and Professor Gerhardt’s Meditation:
Meditate, O devout soul, upon the worthiness of the Church, and take heed lest thou do anything unworthy of her. The Church is thy spiritual mother; take care that thou despise not her voice as she speaks to thee. She is thy mother, and through word and sacraments thou oughtest draw all thy spiritual nourishment from her. The church is as a chaste virgin ; if thou then wouldst be true to her, abstain from the embraces of the world ; thou belongest to her, see then that thou dishonor not thyself nor her by any unholy alliances with the devil. The Church is the bride of Christ, and so is every godly soul ; let it take heed then not to cling to Satan in an unholy union. Thou, 0 my soul, art the bride of Christ; see to it that thou lose not the earnest of the Holy Spirit which Math been given unto thee; thou art the bride of Christ, pray unceasingly, that thy heavenly Bridegroom may hasten to lead thee unto the marriage feast above. Thy Bridegroom may come in the quiet and security of the midnight hour (Matt. xxv. 6); watch therefore, that when He cometh He may not find thee sleeping, and shut the door of eternal salvation upon thee. Let thy lamp be filled with the oil of faith and be brightly burning, lest at the coming, of thy heavenly Spouse thou sbouldst seek in vain for oil for thy lamp (Matt. xxv.).