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MARTIN CHEMNITZ PRESS

A MIGHTY FORTRESS LUTHERAN CHURCH

http://www.httpcity.com/amightyfortress/index.html

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.

6421 W. Poinsettia Drive
Glendale, Arizona 85304-2419

623-334-8014; chemnitz@uswest.net

 

 

 

 

KJV Matthew 25:1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

 

STAYING AWAKE

 

This Gospel warns us to be awake, prepared, and alert for the coming of Christ, because no one knows the hour of His arrival.

 

This is an interesting parable because the circumstances are easy to imagine. Although our wedding customs are different now, the details have their counterparts today. No one wants to be left out of a wedding today. Everyone knows that the ceremony will start at a specific time, dependent upon bride and groom. In the Bible the Church is the bride and Jesus is always the groom.

 

KJV Matthew 9:15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

 

KJV John 3:29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

KJV Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

 

KJV Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

 

KJV Revelation 21:9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.

 

KJV Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

 

We can see from these passages how basic is the relationship between Christ and the Church as the bridegroom and the bride. We can all understand marriage, because almost everyone in the world lives in a married state. (Sociologists call it pair-bonding and it is almost always male/female, in spite of counter claims by activists.) So Christ’s love for us is portrayed as the love of the bridegroom for the bride. And yet, it is Christ Who cleanses us and presents us as holy and without blemish before God the Father.

 

In this parable the emphasis is upon the bridegroom, Jesus. The 10 virgins are the young girls who want to be in the wedding party but approach the wedding in two different ways. They are all invited and equal in that respect. We see that today in Christianity. The invitation of the Gospel is extended to everyone, but the invitation is treated in different ways.

 

We know that girls really care about weddings. I know of many who have kept scrapbooks of every wedding they have attended, keeping track of details to plan the perfect wedding for themselves. The proper way to attend a wedding is to be there on time and prepared. Will the wedding start anyway if one of the attendants has a flat tire or forgot their wedding clothes in Detroit? Of course. In our wedding one friend came without the proper shoes, so he had to get by with some that were quite small. No one sympathized. He wasn’t prepared and he knew what it meant to be prepared.

 

If the wedding is especially formal, the late arriving guests will be on their own and forced to watch from the back instead of being formally seated as honored guests. If they are late and have to watch from the cry room in the church, no one cares. They knew beforehand to be on time.

 

So we can see how perfectly this wedding parable teaches us about being prepared. The young girls are invited, but some are not prepared. The foolish virgins do not bring extra oil. The wise virgins do. All of them fall asleep waiting for the groom. When they awake with the warning that the groom is approaching, two responses are obvious. The foolish virgins no longer have enough oil for their lamps and cannot be part of the procession. The wise virgins have enough but cannot make up for their silly friends who brought none.

 

Then when the foolish virgins go off to buy the oil they needed at the beginning, the groom appears, the wedding appears, and they are shut out entirely.

 

The parable concludes: 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

 

The Scriptures teach us very clearly about the importance of watching, a term which literally means “to stay awake.” (The Greek is gregoreo, the basis for the name Gregory.)

 

Watch (stay awake) used three times

KJV Mark 13:33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. 34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

 

Watch (stay awake) used three times again

KJV Mark 14:34 And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. 35 And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. 37 And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? 38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.

 

Paul used exactly the same terminology in his farewell speech to the Ephesian elders:

 

KJV Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch [stay awake], and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

 

The same warning is given to the Corinthians:

KJV 1 Corinthians 16:13 Watch ye [Stay awake!], stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

 

How is this parable applied today?

 

First of all, we know the Gospel invitation has gone out to the entire world.

 

KJV Mark 13:10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.

 

Today the world can be fairly represented by the 10 maidens. The Gospel invitation has been sent to everyone. Many nations are still largely pagan today. But why? The Chinese slaughtered the Christian missionaries during the Communist revolution, imprisoned others for years, and drove the rest out of the country. Later the government invented a new “Three Self” religion to supplant the Christian church. Many liberal, ecumenical Christian leaders have praised the Chinese and helped them eliminate Christianity in China. The Lutheran Laymen’s League of the LCMS cooperates with the Chinese Communists in this Satanic ministry – but no one seems to care.

 

If a country is non-Christian, it is the fault of man, not God. Obviously God sent the missionaries over many centuries to preach the Gospel in China, India, and many other places. In India today a man may not go to the country as a missionary alone. He has to have the skills needed by the country.

 

It is amusing to see church bodies bragging about their foreign missions. WELS considers Germany a foreign mission. (Apparently the Reformation began in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.) The Church of the Lutheran Confession names Canada as a foreign mission field because they took a LCMS pastor from Canada and made him a CLC pastor.

 

America certainly has the Gospel in abundance, although there is almost no tolerance for Gospel ministers. More and more of the Scriptural prophecies are being fulfilled. It should wake people up, but just the opposite seems to be happening.

 

How do we understand the difference between the prepared maidens and the foolish ones?

 

One important detail to notice is that the wise maidens cannot make up the difference for the foolish ones. People must realize this, because osmosis does not work in the Christian faith. If the pastor is well prepared and orthodox in his teaching, the members may ignore what God’s Word says and persecute it. A minister who is a false teacher may say that he SIGNED his subscription to the Lutheran Confessions, but that does not mean anything if he denies those same doctrines of the Bible in his work. Members may take pride in belong to the right synod, but belonging is not directly related to believing today. In other words, it does not matter what is on the outside but what is on the inside.

 

Let me first describe how people fit the profile of the foolish maidens today. They take their responsibilities lightly. They want the benefits of the Christian faith without any of the burdens (as they see them). For instance, if they have to choose between their friends and the Gospel, they choose their friends. If they believe anything about the Word of God threatens their comfort, they are only too glad to let go of the Scriptures. They fool themselves into thinking that they are not rejecting the Scriptures outright. Oh no. That would be too obvious. Instead, they refuse to fight for the truth of the Scriptures under attack at that moment.

 

If I had a dollar for everyone who postured about errors from another age or another church body, I would be able to buy General Electric and have enough left over to lease the Vatican. Lutheran pastors and Lutheran congregations do not want to deal with error in their own midst (which is easier to confront). No, they shake their heads about something from 50 years ago or an obvious error from another church body.

 

When I was examined by the Wisconsin Synod, I was asked about the Masonic Lodge and scouts, soul sleep and the millennium, open communion, women’s suffrage, unionism. The district president, Robert Mueller, was on the national board with ELCA leaders (Lutheran World Relief). The WELS leaders were all trained at Fuller Seminary. Women were in authority over men in many situations (all left alone). Open communion was practiced in the district. The circuit pastor in the area where I was called had this going on in his congregation - Masonic members, a scout troop, women’s suffrage, semi-open communion, and the Church Growth Movement being taught to the adult class by a known clergy sex offender. The same district president defended the start of two different “Community Churches” which avoided any association with WELS or the Lutheran Church.

 

Being unprepared begins with an attitude of works righteousness. It is supported with years of spiritual neglect. The Gospel does not continue unless people concern themselves with sound doctrine and keep themselves informed about all aspects of the Christian faith. Reading and discussion doctrine go together. If someone really wants to know about Christian teaching, he will search for good books. If he reads good books, he will be anxious to discuss them and see many opportunities to speak about the Gospel.

 

We find that Jewish believers often want to know about the Christian faith and ask very pointed questions. A wonderful, kindly physician asked us how we can have any comfort about the loss of our daughters. He said he was bereft after the loss of his son. On two occasions Jewish people told us that Christians understand death better than they do. When we went to Tucson to see a friend from 40 years back, she asked about the Christian faith. That is what I believe Jesus meant by telling us not to worry about what we would say, that the Holy Spirit will give us the words to say. If we are prepared, it is never a problem.

 

The Holy Spirit does not require a script. It is interesting that most canned evangelism programs assume a script – so little do they trust in the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word! When telemarketers phone me, I throw them off by saying, “I know you have a script. Drop the script a moment and talk to me.” If we are prepared, we do not need to borrow oil from James D. Kennedy, Robert Schuller, or (shudder) Oral Roberts.

 

Another aspect of being prepared involves the Means of Grace. Many nominal Christians show that they despise the Means of Grace because they neglect worship and study, wondering only how little they can do while remaining names on a list. But it means more than showing up and going through the motions. Listening is one of the hardest things to do, because there are so many outward and inner distractions. I found that when I was listening in the pew for a period of 3 years (when in St. Louis), it took all my concentration to listen for 15-20 minutes. It is much harder to listen for 20 minutes than to talk for 20 minutes. Therefore, people should not go with the attitude of warming a pew and going through the motions.

 

Many people delight in running down sermons today. I wonder how many men they have driven from the ministry with their unkind remarks. Congregations despise the Means of Grace by expecting everything except thorough study and preparation for the sermon. As I have said before, a year’s worth of sermons is easily equal to writing a book per year. To produce that much material means taking the time to read and to compose, having the tools (scholarly books, computer programs) to do this.

 

If the pastor’s duties assume that he will manage all groups, whip up attendance at all functions (committees, youth, ladies, men’s – all of which are expendable), and do plenty of janitorial work, the Means of Grace portion of his work will be squeezed into a tiny space of time. If (and I think this very likely) the same congregation is easily disturbed by orthodox sermons, he will be better off winging a Law oriented self-help message than a true Law/Gospel sermon. Although the church mortgage will be paid down and the pastor will be on the executive committee of the synod, there will be no oil in the lamps – and that’s all that matters!

 

The Lutheran Church has collapsed (with all denominations) because the visible institution matters and the lamp oil (the Means of Grace) does not matter. The Lutheran Church was the last to fall because Lutheran doctrine rejected all the fads that were bringing down groups 100 years ago. The Social Gospel Movement (political activism in the church – not social functions) was alive and well in Methodism 100 years ago. The old Marxist Federal Council of Churches embraced the Social Gospel Movement. Lutherans rejected it until fairly recently. The same thing is true of modern Bible translations and pop music worship services. As long as the Lutheran Church resisted, people were nurtured and enlightened through the Means of Grace. Now they are in darkness.

 

Several people phoned me about the financial scandal in the LCMS with their foundation. The current fear of the church bodies is that the next generation will not support them financially, so they are trying to get as much treasure as possible laid up for themselves through the current retirement generation, using endowments, charitable annuities, and charitable remainder trusts. The LCMS leaders squandered $100 million in speculation and lost a huge amount, cheating lots of elderly people out of their retirement funds and various LCMS institutions out of money saved up. The scandal is so bad it made the Wall Street Journal’s front page! No doubt it will be discussed often in the LCMS, but no one mentions the 200-500 Pentecostal ministers who openly defy Lutheran teaching in the LCMS, because they have a powerful union – Renewal in Missouri.

 

How do individuals prepare themselves? Let me outline some basic steps:

  1. They define the Christian faith through the Means of Grace and efficacious Word, not through the supposed health or success of a visible institution. The Word will remain forever. Nothing else will.
  2. They do not seek to build up the Word through political means, making deals and voting for memorials.
  3. They obtain a good edition of the King James Version (or a version in the KJ family) and study it with the help of reliable commentaries, chiefly Luther and Lenski.
  4. They assemble a Lutheran library, small in size but powerful in content, and get to know the best authors – chiefly the Book of Concord, Luther, Chemnitz, Gerhard, and the orthodox fathers of Europe (Repristination Press).
  5. They take advantage of the Means of Grace and value the truth so much that they will not compromise in order to maintain friendships, family relationships, or their ministerial pension plans.
  6. They realize that the sermon is the most important event in the Christian’s week – hearing the Gospel proclaimed, so the members support the pastor in giving the sermon and the pastor helps the congregation in understanding the sermon. Together they say, “This is God’s Word. It belongs to Him alone.” It is never their word but His Word.
  7. They understand that the liturgy and the Sacraments both present the Gospel so well that they would never accept an adulteration of liturgy or Sacrament for the sake of popularity in a non-Lutheran community.
  8. They pray to God each day and at various times to help them, guide them, watch over them. They pray for the needs of others.

 

What makes me sad, and I know it saddens many others, is this – the Lutheran Church preserved sound doctrine for centuries, in spite of many adversities. But now the enemies of the Lutheran Church are welcomed as spiritual advisors of the synods (including His Excellency, the Antichrist) and Lutheran books are despised and neglected.

 

But just as Marxist persecution in Russia produced a hunger for the Gospel, so does this crisis of end-time apostasy generate a longing. A few—not man—but a few people know they should be prepared. They want the source of the lamp-oil, the Means of Grace, and they want reliable guides.

 

And why does this all matter? Because only through Jesus can we obtain the forgiveness of our sins. Only through Him can we receive eternal life. We can only be in the Kingdom of God (the wedding feast) or outside of it. We cannot be partially in and partially out, like that wonderfully descriptive term – the inactive member. (Yes, pastor, she’s a member, but we haven’t seen her for 5 years. Got mad at a ladies lunch, the way I hear it. But we dasn’t take her name off, ‘cause she’s a charter member. You will hear about it if you do. No, don’t visit her. It will only make her mad.)

The Gospel matters because the only real power in our lives is the power of the Gospel. The Law has the power to bring us to contrition, but the Law cannot motivate us to love the Word, to love the Commandments, to love doing good works for others.

 

The modern asks, “How can I love others if I do not love myself first? I have to love and take care of myself or I cannot love others and take care of them.” The Christian says, “God’s love for me is so great that I can only express thanksgiving to Him in what I do for others. God’s love for me makes it easy to love others.”

 

Everything on this planet  needs light. All our food depends upon light. Sunlight is energy that turns into food energy and warmth. It is fun to go outside on a “chilly” day in Phoenix and see the sun blazing in a clear sky. The air is cold but the sunlight will soon warm the earth and the soil will warm the air. If the sun would be blacked out for a few days, all life on earth would cease, from cold and lack of food.

 

The Christian life is energized in the same way, but through the warmth of the Gospel instead. A peaceful heart is one in which there is sorrow for sin and faith in the Gospel of forgiveness. In this forgiveness we have joy each and every day. When we are forgiven, we love others without question and show that love in dozens of ways.

 

The Christian life means being in Christ and Christ being in us. That gives us kindness, gentleness, self-control, and all the fruits of the Spirit. Take away the energy of the Gospel and the fruits wither. Put the energy of Gospel in our lives and the fruits of the Spirit must grow.

 

During the summer the heat was so bad that no one in Phoenix had decent roses. I learned from one member that a champion rose grower did not even submit his roses to a competition. But then we had three sets of rain storms, each one far more rain than we normally have. Many areas flooded. But something else happened as well. The roses bushes all came back. They began blooming and producing new growth. Shriveled leaves turned deep green again. Buds came forth and burst into perfect blooms again. My neighbor said over the fence, “Four of my roses came back to life!”

 

It was inevitable. Sunlight drives the storm systems, which transfer heat around our planet. Rain brings growth. Rain brings the fruit of the plant.

 

KJV Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 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.

 

**

Lutheran Quotations

 

"The whole Gospel is nothing but a proclamation of the forgiveness of sins, or a publication of the same Word to all men on earth, which God Himself confirms in heaven."

G. H. Gerberding, The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church, Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1887, p. 127.

 

"Only note and hold fast what He has preached; and if someone were to say anything that does not agree with the voice of Christ, and I find the opposite to be true, then I should say: Shame on you, you panderer, do you want to turn me into a harlot? Come now, he may say, is that I say not sacred? Reason itself considers it to be good. But you should say: I have the voice of the Bridegroom."

What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 268. John 3:29.

 

"Therefore the Christians, who are the right and dear guests at this wedding, at all times have this comfort that the others who do not belong thereto, that is both persecutors and false brethren, shall not enjoy the same."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 250. Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, Matthew 22:1-14

 

"Today's Gospel also teaches by this parable that our free will amounts to nothing, since the good seed is sowed only by Christ, and Satan sows nothing but evil seed; as we also see that the field of itself yields nothing but tares, which the cattle eat, although the field receives them and they make the field green as if they were wheat. In the same way the false Christians among the true Christians are of no use but to feed the world and be food for Satan, and they are so beautifully green and hypocritical, as if they alone were the saints, and hold the place in Christendom as if they were lords there, and the government and highest places belonged to them; and for no other reason than that they glory that they are Christians and are among Christians in the church of Christ, although they see and confess that they live unchristian lives."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John N. Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983 II, p. 103. Matthew 13:24-30;

 

"A church body in which human judgments are accorded an equal status with the governing principle of the Word is essentially unionistic and an unfaithful bride of the Lord." [August Pieper]

Francis Pieper, The Difference between Orthodox and Heterodox Churches, and Supplement, Coos Bay, Oregon: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 1981, p. 58.

 

"It is God alone who may speak the word of pardon, who can produce faith, but it is God who is speaking in the Gospel and the Sacraments (Luke 24:47: 'in His name') and creating faith through them (Acts 16:14--Lydia; James 1:18; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). The word of the Gospel is therefore not a dead letter, nor are the Sacraments empty symbols, but they are the power of God. The power of God is inseparably connected with, is inherent in, the means of grace." Edwin E. Pieplow, "The Means of Grace,"

The Abiding Word, ed., Theodore Laetsch, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946, II, p. 335. Luke 24:47; Acts 16:14; James 1:18; 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

 

"'The hearers of the Word of God who understand the doctrine of the means of grace will be diligent hearers of it. While God has commanded the pastor to preach the Gospel, He has commanded the congregation to hear it. The Gospel is the means not only of converting the sinner, but also of strengthening the faith of those who already are converted. Christians having this knowledge will be faithful and diligent in the use of the means of grace.'"

Edwin E. Pieplow, "The Means of Grace," The Abiding Word, ed., Theodore Laetsch, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946, II, p. 346.

 

"A Confession is not the private expression of a religious nature. Nor does it establish some favorite Bible passage. Nor is it the stressing of Bible passages which are significant only for a specific concrete situation. A Confession is not the religious or guidance of an individual. The truth of a Confession is based expressly on the great number of Bible passages which proclaim this truth; a Confession is the comprehensive exposition of the total Scripture. For a Confession teaches "what a Christian must know for his salvation"; it teaches the Gospel. In this way a Confession as doctrine of Scripture steps out of Scripture and now becomes an approach to Scripture in that the Confession serves as a guide to the discovery of Scripture's content and as an aid in its correct interpretation."

Edmund Schlink, Theology of the Lutheran Confessions, trans. Paul F. Koehneke and Herbert J. A. Bouman, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1961, p. 15.

 

"For few receive the Word and follow it; the greatest number despise the Word, and will not come to the wedding, Matthew 22:3ff. The cause for this contempt for the Word is not God's foreknowledge [or predestination], but the perverse will of man, which rejects or perverts the means and instrument of the Holy Ghost, which God offers him through the call, and resists the Holy Ghost, who wishes to be efficacious, and works through the Word, as Christ says, 'How often would I have gathered you together, and ye would not!' Matthew 23:37."

Formula of Concord, SD XI. #41. Election. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 1077. Tappert, p. 623. Heiser, p. 290. Matthew 22:3ff.; 23:37.

 

"Therefore not only those sin against this commandment who grossly misuse and desecrate the holy day, as those who on account of their greed or frivolity neglect to hear God's Word or lie in taverns and are dead drunk like swine; but also that other crowd, who listen to God's Word as to any other trifle, and only from custom come to preaching, and go away again, and at the end of the year know as little of it as at the beginning. For hitherto the opinion prevailed that you had properly hallowed Sunday when you had heard a mass or the Gospel read; but no one cared for God's Word, as also no one taught it. Now, while we have God's Word, we nevertheless do not correct the abuse; we suffer ourselves to be preached to and admonished, but we listen without seriousness and care."

The Large Catechism, The Third Commandment, #96-97. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 609. Tappert, p. 378. Heiser, p. 175. Exodus 20:8-11.

 

"Now, although both, the planting and watering of the preacher, and the running and willing of the hearer, would be in vain, and no conversion would follow it if the power and efficacy of the Holy Ghost were not added thereto, who enlightens and converts the hearts through the Word preached and heard, so that men believe this Word and assent thereto, still, neither preacher nor hearer is to doubt this grace and efficacy of the Holy Ghost, but should be certain that when the Word of God is preached purely and truly, according to the command and will of God, and men listen attentively and earnestly and meditate upon it, God is certainly present with His grace, and grants, as has been said, what otherwise man can neither accept nor give from his own powers."

Formula of Concord SD II. #55-56. Free Will. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 903. Tappert, p. 531f. Heiser, p. 246.

 

"This power {the Keys} is exercised only by teaching or preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments, according to their calling, either to many or to individuals. For thereby are granted, not bodily, but eternal things, as eternal righteousness, the Holy Ghost, eternal life. These things cannot come but by the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments, as Paul says, Romans 1:16: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Therefore, since the power of the Church grants eternal things, and is exercised only by the ministry of the Word, it does not interfere with civil government; no more than the art of singing interferes with civil government."

Augsburg Confession, XXVIII. #8. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 85. Tappert, p. 82. Heiser, p. 23. Romans 1:16

 

"We further believe that in this Christian Church we have forgiveness of sin, which is wrought through the holy Sacraments and Absolution, moreover, through all manner of consolatory promises of the entire Gospel. Therefore, whatever is to be preached, concerning the Sacraments belongs here, and in short, the whole Gospel and all the offices of Christianity, which also must be preached and taught without ceasing. For although the grace of God is secured through Christ, and sanctification is wrought by the Holy Ghost through the Word of God in the unity of the Christian Church, yet on account of our flesh which we bear about with us we are never without sin."

The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III. #54. Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 693. Tappert, p. 417. Heiser, p. 195.