MARTIN CHEMNITZ PRESS
A MIGHTY FORTRESS LUTHERAN CHURCH
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.
6421 W. Poinsettia Drive
KJV Matthew 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
After Jesus was baptized, He went into the desert to be tempted by Satan. Being the Son of God did not keep him from being tempted. Being baptized did not keep Him from being tempted.
What is the nature of sin? This issue troubled Lutherans during the Reformation, especially after the death of Luther. Every extreme was being taught somewhere in Christianity at that time, although our era is no less confused. The Church of Rome promoted the view then and still advocates the position that man is basically good. This doctrine was condemned by St. Augustine in his battle against Pelagius, and the Christian Church agreed with Augustine. However, this changed later in the Church of Rome.
God is not the author of sin and did not create or encourage sin. Satan encouraged Eve and Adam to sin, and that sin infects us all. So God did not create human nature to sin. We can see that in Christ, Who took on our human nature for all time when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He did not give up His human nature and still remains both divine and human. For that reason, He was tempted by Satan. He was hungry and thirsty. Satan took Him to the peak of the Temple to test Him, to see whether God would protect Him from harm. Satan tempted Him with power over all the kingdoms of the world.
We know that people who share the same problems and burdens can comfort one another because of their common difficulties. We should look at the temptations of Jesus in exactly the same way, reminding us that Jesus understands all our “trials and temptations,” as the famous hymn states.
Original sin needs to be understood properly. There are two basic errors being promoted today. One is that man is basically good, although sinful. This Roman Catholic view ignores the Scriptural passages which reveal that all of our powers are corrupted by the Fall of Adam. Even if we could keep from any outward sin, our thoughts would still be sinful. You can see that when someone is forced to do something correctly and he glares at you in anger and defiance. He performs the deed outwardly but inwardly rages.
Now that we have fewer and fewer children raised with the Word of God, there is almost no concept of sinfulness, being responsible for harm, or being truly sorry for doing something wrong. However, no matter how evil others may be, that does not rescue us from original sin.
We are like the Dodge Aspen we once owned. My Aspen had so many problems that I was kicked out of the auto club for having so many towing claims. Some of the things I remember are: a rust problem in the trunk and back fenders, a rear end failure, a transmission failure, poor mileage, and so forth. When I bought a book of All Time Lemons produced by Detroit, the Aspen was featured. Every problem listed for the Aspen was once I experienced. So I said, “Oh, that was the problem. The car was faulty from one end to the other.”
Every single human is corrupted by original sin.
KJV Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies
KJV Genesis 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
KJV Genesis 8:21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
So many people begin to think about life from the wrong point of view. They complain about the injustice of God, as if God is the author of sin and evil.
KJV Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
Since the state of all mankind is so bad from original sin, the mercy of God is all the greater. In spite of man’s rebellion against God and his inherent hatred of God’s will, God has means for man to be see his true nature, repent, and believe in the Gospel.
The Holy Spirit works through the Law to show us the way we really are. We can see that the Old Testament is not just religious literature but God’s Word, because His people are revealed just the way they were. The Law of God tells us about our sinful state because the medicine of the Gospel does not mean anything to us if we do not realize the extent and nature of original sin.
How often have we had an infection, such as a sore throat, and we said, “Oh, I need an anti-biotic. I don’t care how much it costs. I don’t care how bad it tastes. I need relief right now.” Then we get the medicine and obtain relief. The burning throat goes away. And we look at the bottle of medicine and say, “I paid that much for those pills? They smell bad. I don’t want any more of them.”
We only desire the Gospel when the Law reveals us for what we are. If we could constantly desire the Gospel, it would be a good thing. But God knows our weakness and keeps the Law before us and difficulties around us, so we grasp the message of forgiveness with thankful hearts all the time.
The temptations of Jesus are representative of the temptations we all face. One temptation is our fear of losing the basic necessities of life. That may seem odd in our wealthy society, but fear is not very rational. Fear is the human face of doubting God. Being afraid of losing those material things we need is another way of saying, “I am not sure God will provide.” Or we can become bitter that God allows us to be deprived of good things while evil people roll about in luxury. Then we forget that people in the grasp of Satan remain in a deluded state for a long time, then become terrified and without hope as they realize how foolish their lives were. One religious leader received every honor his denomination could bestow on him. He confessed to another person, “It is all a mirage. My entire life is worthless.” He surrendered his family to be a denominational hero and finally realized what a terrible price he paid.
The second temptation of Jesus concerned Satan urging Him to toss Himself from the Temple, to give God a chance to rescue Him in a dramatic way. This may seem beyond our level of weakness, but in reality people think along these lines all the time. For instance, someone will think, “God must answer my needs in this way and in this amount of time, or…” The Church Growth leaders order God to give them numerical growth in a specified number of years. They know from secular management training that they have to write down their goals and “own” their goals, or God will not provide! Luther heaped nothing but scorn upon such frauds, because they are no different from what we see in this temptation. OK, God. I want 10% attendance growth each year for the next 3 years. It is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed.
"PLANNING, long-range or short-range, should be
Paul Kelm, editor, The Evangelism Handbook, WELS Evangelism p. 3.
"Small churches need not be small thinkers, but small-thinking churches will always remain small. Churches and people seldom go/grow beyond their expectations."
Rev. Paul Kelm, "How to Make Sound Doctrine Sound Good to Mission Prospects," See Waldo Werning and Robert Schuller for the same thought. Did the Apostles know this? p. 6.
"3. Establish your goals. a. definition: goals are those things that are required for an organization to carry out its objectives ('How') 1) short-range targets 2) SMART, Specific...Measureable...Acceptable...Realistic...Timed...."
Prof. David J. Valleskey, Class Notes, The Theology and Practice of Evangelism, PT 358A p. 101.
WHAT LUTHER SAYS ABOUT GOALS
"Those, however, who set the time, place and measure, tempt God, and believe not that they are heard or that they have obtained what they asked; therefore, they also receive nothing."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 172. John 16:23-30.
"In like manner, St. Paul says that God's ability is thus proved, in that He does exceeding abundantly above and better than we ask or think. Ephesians 3:20. Therefore, we should know we are too finite to be able to name, picture or designate the time, place, way, measure and other circumstances for that which we ask of God. Let us leave that entirely to Him, and immovably and steadfastly believe that He will hear us."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 179f. Ephesians 3:20.
"And although we do at times depart from the Word, we should not therefore remain altogether away from it, but return again, for He makes good His Word. Even though man cannot believe it, God will nevertheless help him to believe it, and this He does without man's reason or free will and without man adding anything thereto."
Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 76. John 16:16-23
"If the world were willing to take advice from a simple, plain man--that is, our Lord God (who, after all, has some experience too and knows how to rule)--the best advice would be that in his office and sphere of jurisdiction everybody simply direct his thoughts and plans to carrying out honestly and doing in good faith what has been commanded him and that, whatever he does, he depend not on his own plans and thoughts but commit the care to God. Such a man would certainly find out in the end who does and accomplishes more, he who trusts God or he who would bring success to his cause through his own wisdom and thoughts or his own power and strength."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1151. Luke 5:1-11.
"Let us, then, prepare ourselves to be patient and learn to bear the furious attacks and the blows of Satan, who is trying to tear the church of Christ to pieces and to establish his own church. We are not any better than the fathers. At the cost of much sweat and labor they, too, scarcely succeeded in their effort to preserve the Word and to snatch a few souls from the jaws of Satan."
Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 280. Genesis 11:10ff.
The third temptation of Jesus concerns the desire for wealth and power. The new man in us says, “How could that tempt Jesus? He created the universe.” But if we think of the moment, Jesus was facing a difficult ministry in which people would not realize His divinity. He knew He would be crucified. No one desires the cross. Jesus Himself prayed, “Take this cup from Me.”
On our part, we can see this temptation as representing our urge to shirk the cross and make things easy for ourselves. Satan does not tempt us in such crass terms. Our problems seem to come from God’s lack of concern. After all, shouldn’t the orthodox get a few breaks from their Sponsor? Instead of blessing our difficulties, we listen to the whispering of that demonic Iago, always portraying the facts in such a way as to make us play Othello and murder what we love. We forget the experience of the Lutheran confessors, the apostles, and Jesus Himself. The Son of God, Who was without sin and never harmed a soul, was crucified for teaching the righteousness of faith in Him. How can sinful man expect a better experience in a world without faith in Jesus?
Rejecting the cross means rejecting the Word. The Word and the cross are never separated in this life. That is not my opinion. That is our confession from the Large Catechism.
The Large Catechism
"If we would be Christians, therefore, we must surely expect and reckon upon having the devil with all his angels and the world as our enemies, who will bring every possible misfortune and grief upon us. For where the Word of God is preached, accepted, or believed, and produces fruit, there the holy cross cannot be wanting. And let no one think that he shall have peace; but he must risk whatever he has upon earth--possessions, honor, house and estate, wife and children, body and life. Now, this hurts our flesh and the old Adam; for the test is to be steadfast and to suffer with patience in whatever way we are assailed, and to let go whatever is taken from us."
Large Catechism, The Lord's Prayer, Third Petition, #65, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 715. Tappert, p. 429.
We need to realize that despair is a terrible temptation today for the orthodox. We are looking at the worst kind of persecution, the persecution of massive indifference. Try having a spirited discussion with someone about the Christian faith. That is encouraging and uplifting, if we stick to the Word. But try having a discussion with someone who simply does not care. That is very discouraging and more disheartening than an angry response.
Despair comes from Satan. Comfort comes from God. The temptation to despair can only be met with God’s Word. (In many circumstances, people need medical help for the physical symptoms of depression. As one person recently admitted, simply being in the sun in Phoenix took away her depression.) So when our thoughts are troubled by spiritual conditions, or the fate of our congregation, or Lutheranism in general, we need to turn to those comforting passages which occur by the hundreds in the Bible.
Pastors especially need to turn away from the law-mongers of the denomination and the temptation to wonder about being successful. The Word alone IS successful. Consider these passages:
KJV Isaiah 40:28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
The Great Doxology in
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings
in heavenly places
4 According as he hath chosen us in him
before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace,
wherein he hath made us accepted
in the Beloved.
7 In whom we have
redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will,
according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times
he might gather together in one all things in Christ,
both which are in heaven, and which are on earth;
even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance,
being predestinated according to the purpose of him
who worketh all things
after the counsel of his own will:
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory,
who first trusted in Christ.
13 In whom ye also trusted,
after that ye heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation:
in whom also after that ye believed,
ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance
until the redemption of the purchased possession,
unto the praise of his glory.
Each comforting passage of the Bible is God’s weapon against Satan. The Word is the Sword of the Spirit and cannot be defeated by man or Satan.
KJV Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.