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MARTIN CHEMNITZ PRESS

A MIGHTY FORTRESS LUTHERAN CHURCH

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.

6421 W. Poinsettia Drive

Glendale, Arizona 85304-2419

623-334-8014; chemnitz@uswest.net

 

Sunday, December 05, 1999

 

KJV Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: 9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. 10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. 11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. 12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. 13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

 

BYZ Romans 15:4 o[sa ga.r proegra,fh eivj th.n h`mete,ran didaskali,an proegra,fh( i[na dia. th/j u`pomonh/j kai. dia. th/j paraklh,sewj tw/n grafw/n th.n evlpi,da e;cwmen 5  o` de. qeo.j th/j u`pomonh/j kai. th/j paraklh,sewj dw,|h u`mi/n to. auvto. fronei/n evn avllh,loij kata. Cristo.n VIhsou/n 6  i[na o`moqumado.n evn e`ni. sto,mati doxa,zhte to.n qeo.n kai. pate,ra tou/ kuri,ou h`mw/n VIhsou/ Cristou/  

 

PATIENCE AND COMFORT OF THE SCRIPTURES

 

In this epistle we have enough for many sermons. The opening emphasizes the close connection between the nature of God and the effect of His Word.

 

I am deeply disturbed by the news that a pastor is being driven out of the ministry because he teaches the efficacy of the Word alone, a doctrine clearly taught in the first two verses of this lesson. There are only two possible positions on this topic:

  1. The correct position is taught clearly throughout the Bible and was once taught by all Lutherans, even the liberal element. This view recognizes that the Holy Spirit is always united with the Word of God and always has an effect, whether converting or damning, enlightening or blinding. In other words, all the blessings of the Christian faith come from the Word alone and never apart from the Word.
  2. The second position about the Word adds various elements to the Word, to make it effective. This can be found in terms of addition human tradition and rational judgments in the Church of Rome. In other words, the Scriptures must pass through the filters of the bishops, cardinals, and pope, who will tell us what they mean. The Reformed teach that the Word of God is dead and lifeless unless man makes it powerful and effective by adding human reason. The modern version is called “marketing the Gospel” and “multi-cultural ministry.” The minister will make the Word attractive to people with his winsome personality and by casting it into a form that his audience’s culture will grasp. Remember, too, that culture includes homosexuality. “Multi-ethnic” means many different national backgrounds. ELCA congregations advertise being “multi-ethnic” and “multi-cultural.” WELS and LCMS have joined ELCA in “multi-cultural ministry.” All the denominations use Church Growth materials from Fooler Seminary, but it sounds better as “multi-cultural” or as “post-modernism,” another CG foot-in-the-door.

 

Now let’s look at what these two verses teach us. Whatever was written in the past was revealed to teach us. This is a reference to the Old Testament, which is really gigantic in scope and history. Imagine how some people thought in those days. We have to learn about the history of a tiny nation, now a slave to Rome? And that little nation is the key to our salvation through the promised Savior?

 

What I find in the sermons of Martin Luther is a consistent view of the Scriptures as a whole. One of the problems of this age and all ages is someone looking for a lump of verses to prove his case. If his particular theory of the moment is not supported by another passage in the Bible, the false teacher does not care.

 

If we accept that there are no errors or contradictions in the Bible, then one passage cannot be against another. Also, if one verse defeats false doctrine, then many other passages will also defeat it.

 

Another aspect of this is the clarity or perspicuity of the Scriptures. The Church of Rome introduced this argument by saying the Bible is so confusing and incomplete that the bishops and pope must clarify matters for us. They were the first to us the “grey areas of Scripture” tactic, which is now used in WELS, the CLC, and other Lutheran groups. If the Scriptures are incomplete, unclear, and difficult to understand, then the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is one complete botch. God speaks through the Word, but He speaks so poorly that most people cannot understand what He is saying! In fact, it take years of training and ordination to be able to understand them! Egyptology is easier. This is a direct attack on the inspiration of the Scriptures and the nature of God, although it is cloaked in pious words. (False doctrine is always cloaked in Pharisaic piety.)

 

If we ask ourselves, “Is the Word alone effective?” with an emphasize on alone, apart from any human merit, personality, or salesmanship, then only one passage is needed. Isaiah 55:8-11.

 

KJV Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

 

Three promises are included in one verse:

  1. God’s Word always accomplishes something. (Never returns void is a double negative, a litotes, often used in the Scriptures to emphasize the positive. KJV John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. KJV Mark 6:4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. KJV Mark 4:34 But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples. KJV Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. KJV Hebrews 9:7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:)
  2. It will accomplish what God pleases. Many Lutherans are glib about saying “God-pleasing” when they really mean “me-pleasing.” This one promise says, “Accept what the Word brings, no matter what, because it will only accomplish God’s will, whatever your plans or hopes may be.” The Word will divide families and unite people across the globe. It will always bless believers and damn unbelief. The Word brought worldly poverty and worldly failure to the Reformation, which was defeated and overturned within a few years of Luther’s death, militarily and doctrinally. Yet God used that overwhelming defeat to create the Book of Concord. We are still mining the treasures of those years, when faithful pastors were thrown into prison, executed, and driven into exile.
  3. It will prosper every divine project. In other words, if God has decided to accomplish something, He will do it with flair. If people oppose His wishes, He will add special touches to show how He does not need advisors or helpers. For instance, when God’s Word sent Jonah to Nineveh, and Johan sailed in the opposite direction, God’s Word threw a violent storm in the way of the ship. And when the sailors used all their wits to defeat the storm and made no progress, they were filled with dread, because they knew the storm was divinely created for a purpose. Hence Jonah was dumped in the sea. God appointed a large sea creature to rescue Jonah and vomit him on the shores of that great city he worked so hard to avoid. So much for mission planning, objectives, and strategies. God’s plans cannot be defeated. However, man’s strategies can only succeed if God blesses them through His Word. (Worldly success does not count. The success of Mormonism at the moment only shows that the End Times are upon us, as predicted in the Scriptures.)

 

This may be the long way around to the lesson. But look at the perfect parallel between God and the Word of God in the first two verses. The patience and comfort of the Scriptures are a parallel to the patience and comfort of God. I know that the English version you use, the KJV or another, may not show a perfect parallel. That is because the KJV does not try to use exactly the same word in English for the same word in Greek, which is impossible anyway. (I would criticize the genius of Tyndale and the King James scholars at this point, but I have tried to translate the New Testament and I know how hard it is to do. Everyone should have the same humbling experience. They would not be so eager to adopt a new Bible translation every 15 minutes.)

 

First of all what do these words mean: patience and comfort? Patience is not the word we mean when we say patience. We would be more inclined to say “endurance.” The Biblical word patience applies to remaining faithful to God during times of trial.

 

KJV Romans 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

 

KJV Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

 

KJV 2 Thessalonians 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

 

KJV 2 Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

 

KJV Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

 

KJV Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

 

Comfort is also used in terms of tribulation:

 

KJV 2 Corinthians 7:4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.

 

The Scriptures give us comfort and patience in trial, because their divine nature is from God, who gives us patience and comfort. The Scriptures not only reveal the truth of God. They also establish God’s will by being proclaimed. The fool may say, “Oh no, I will never believe in the Creation or Flood from the Bible. So there. It has no effect on me.” But the Word does. It hardens the hearts of those who obstinately and perversely reject the clear teaching of the Holy Spirit.

 

In addition, when sinful pride places man above the Scripture, the same effect takes place, even if over a longer period of time. One example is the Reformed Isaiah commentaries I have on my desk. (Edward J. Young) Although some of his commentary is well stated, he allowed that Isaiah knew about the evaporation of water in the Isaiah 55 passage. Here is a distinction between what WE know and what God reveals through Isaiah, as if we have to harmonize them. Isaiah is not a man speaking about God, but God speaking to us through His divinely chosen, inspired, and appointed prophet. Every pastor has a similar but subordinate role. He also must speak the Word of God, even if the whole world opposes him, but he is not chosen to reveal new or strange doctrines. A pastor is divinely called but not inspired by the Holy Spirit. However, if he is faithful to the Word in all respects, he is speaking God’s Word and God will act through him.

 

The purpose of this exhortation is that God may… grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

 

The Gospel of peace has the effect of making us peaceful in the midst of strife. I believe this is especially important in the midst of changes taking place across Lutheranism. As I discussed with one person, doctrinal splits are often accompanied by personal clashes. The personal animosity unites people within a group until they are on their own. If they have no unity apart from being against someone or some organization, they turn on each other and part company.

 

There is no better investment in applying the Word than being peaceful among those who glorify God with the same voice. Personal failings should not be the reason for conflict. Whatever weaknesses we see in others, they see as many or more in us. Personal failings separate people because we apply the Law when we should use the Gospel. Instead of being patient and comforting, we get out our own personal tape measure and find the other person short a few inches, or yards, in some cases. God does not look at the outside, but the inside, as with the shepherd boy David. In other words, faith in the Word unites. Someone who trusts in the Word has whatever the Word promises: forgiveness of sin, eternal life, and the fruits of the Spirits, be they ever so small at the moment. The fruits of the Spirit grow with the nurture of the Gospel and not with the lash of the Law.

 

This is also true in our families. The more we show patience among our family members, the more we will be blessed with the peace of the Gospel. The two best solutions are family strife are:

  1. Contrition. Saying “I’m sorry” is the fastest way to end an argument. If one person has done something wrong, being sorry will end the strife. Defending the error by pointing out past, present, and future errors in the other person will escalate the strife. The way in which we address issues also will determine the outcome. Most of the problems in life do not require a thermo-nuclear response. By the way, often both parties or all parties must say “I’m sorry.” It is music to our ears but it sticks in our throats. Nevertheless, it is God’s will that we repent of wrong-doing.
  2. Forgiveness. Genuine contrition must be answered with genuine forgiveness. That means a total wiping out of all references to the wrong. (An exception would be when someone is engaged in repetitive or addictive sins, when I’m sorry has lost much of its meaning. Here Law and Gospel is a delicate art which only the Holy Spirit can teach in the school of experience.)

 

KJV Psalm 103:11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

 

KJV Matthew 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

 

KJV Matthew 18:34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

 

KJV Luke 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

 

God wants us to use His standard of forgiveness. When the Gospel is applied, God’s peace will reign. There is no better place than the family or congregation for that peace to be enjoyed.