The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream


NT Greek Lessons - Thursdays, 7 PM.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Not Another Wendland!
Haven't They Suffered Enough?



WELS Call Report

Rev Robert WendlandMalawi MissionWisconsin Lutheran Seminary
Mequon WI
Professor; Historical Theology & Homiletics



Sorum also traveled to Liberia with Rev. Robert Wendland, a missionary in Malawi, to see what the opportunities were for ongoing training and for working with the Confessional Lutheran Church of Liberia. Connections had been made through PSI Bible Institute graduate Isaac David and Rev. Matthew Vogt of Las Vegas, Nev., and WELS pastors had already traveled to Liberia to start training congregational leaders.


Rain, Food, and Creation

 "How will we feed our programs?
$200 million is hardly enough."

We have had several promises of rain, which were fulfilled by dark clouds sailing past. The rain-barrels are dry. I revived the irrigation system, comprised of switching valves for the soaker hoses in the front and back. The birds like this, because water makes their bug and worm hunting easier and more productive. The backyard has:

  1. The birdbath hose with the patio cleaner attachment
  2. The Wright fence soaker hose
  3. The Gardener fence soaker hose
  4. The Wild Garden sprinkler.
The front yard set-up includes:
  • The Butterfly Garden soaker hose
  • The upper rose garden soaker hose
  • The area sprinkler hose.
The backyard birdbaths are a lot of fun. I clean them with the patio attachment, a brass connection that creates a jet for long-distance spraying and short-distance cleaning. The birdbath water is always dirty and almost gone, so I clean and fill three children's pools, one small concrete bath (on sale at Walmart one year, $7), and a few lids and pots. 
A short time later, the starlings and grackles are bathing, splashing, and jumping from one pool to the other.

 Clethra is just starting to bloom.


The bird-baths are in the bird feeding area, which is informally fenced by some favorite bushes - Clethra, Chaste Tree, Beautyberry, Gooseberry, and a Helianthus (perennial sunflower) plant. The floor of the area is all mulch, mostly leaves from last year, plus some shredded wood for flooring. As someone wrote, the largest and best bird-feeder is a mulched garden, because the area teems with bugs and worms. 

 Chaste Tree has flowers loved by bees.
The woody shrub loves sun and pruning,
but not watering.


Starlings dramatically prowl and flip mulch cover to find food. Grackles ae more inclined to use their beaks to drive into the soil and get grubs.  Bath and food time is in the morning, when a collection of birds are in and out to feed and bathe. Squirrels look for cracked corn on the ground. I see Robins, Cardinals, Sparrows, and Finches. 

The saying is true - "Plant it and they will come." Even more so, in drought, "Bathe them and they will bring all their friends." A splashy, sprinkly yard generates the noise that birds and other animals love. They need our water more than our food, but they enjoy both together. If I had to neglect one, it would be the food, since God provides for that. Birds are just as habitual as we are. If they find fresh water reliably, they stick around and nest nearby. I may be watering the neighbors' birds, but they are removing the pests for me. At most a bird will eat 15% of its diet from feeders. They need bugs and certainly feed them to their young. Long ago, birds discovered that cereal did not make a good breakfast for kids. Tender, juicy bug steak is far better, as revealed by the rapid growth of baby birds.

What better way to wean babies!
They will be searching for Thrivent grants in no time.


The birds feed heaviest when a big storm is coming, calories to keep them warm. I enjoy seeing the shy birds make a show of looking for food in the empty feeders. Cardinals, no longer hiding, will parade around, mimes feeding where no cracked corn is left. I fill the feeders to the sounds of various species clucking and gossiping while they wait. Some soar over to the feeders before I am back inside. 

Our exotic, foreign travels are to the front and backyards. Flowers and weeds are bursting into bloom all the time. I was ready to yank out two large weeds in the Wild Garden when they displayed their flowers - saving their lives, reminding me I planted the two gifts from Almost Eden.

Sassy resents food given to birds. I tossed two corn cobs into the bird feeding area. She went outside, her nose sniffing for food, and found one. I said, "Leave it for the birds." She looked guilty, picked it up, and looked for a safe place to enjoy it. 

Even a small gathering of believers will show that God has given people unique gifts that all work together, just we see in the Creation Garden. But false teachers in their denominations are jealous and peevish. They want to be the whole show and cannot bear than anyone else outshines their limited abilities. They force themselves on everyone:
  1. Fake scholars who never study;
  2. Translators, who copy and paste the New NIV and change a few words to make it their own new Lutheran Bible;
  3. Preachers who plagiarize and share their stolen sermons on the Net - until exposed by the same technology;
  4. Leaders who glory in all the wealth they have absorbed from a few rich people, Thrivent, and the boards where they serve (themselves);
  5. Dogmaticians whose only faith is in repeating the errors of Holy Mother Sect.
I have often wondered what would happen if the Lutherans gave up their security blankets, their Woobies (Mr. Mom), their Thrivent loot. The LCMS gets about $50 to 60 million a year. Members could easily replace that, and the so-called conservative leaders would no longer whine that they had to work with ELCA to get the money. Tis funny how a sprinkling of money will quiet the conscience of everyone. The Lutheran Forum worried about insurance influence until they got a grant. Christian News complained publicly about insurance money until AAL gave them cash sedative.

But, as Dr. Cruz has observed, they argue from their theories that they cannot get along by trusting in God's Word. No, they need the wisdom of CPAs and Church Growth salesmen. 




Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Extra Nos - Why I Am Sceptical of Science and Scientists

 Dr. Lito Cruz used this as his profile photo
and fooled me. Kurt Godel.
"I do not believe in empirical science,
I only believe in a priori truth."


Extra Nos:



"Why I am sceptical of science and scientists

You might think this strange because if you know me I work in academia most of the time and since I dabble in mathematics you would think that I should not be negative towards science, for after all isn't mathematics a part of science?

In large science faculties, it is true that mathematics is part of the science faculty but I do not think mathematics is part of science. Science deals with observations of phenomena in our world. From, particulars it abstracts to the general. Science deals then with induction.

Mathematics does not deal with induction, it does not look at particulars and then infer to the general. No, mathematics deal with deduction, from the general we go down to particulars. In this regard, I think really that mathematics should be part of philosophy.

We do not sample every triangle we could find, measure their internal angles to be a total of 180 degrees and assert that all triangles have an internal angle of 180 degrees. We use logical proofs starting from axioms.

Today science enjoys a celebrity status. If you want to gain the trust of people just tack on the word "science" into what you are doing. So we have library science, meat science, dairy science and game science and what not. The field I work in my consulting is "Data Science". Funny but I went to a conference last month and a leading practitioner in the field, a professor himself, complained that there is no "science" in data science.

The world has evolved to the point that science is operating like a religion. What is awful is that it is operating like a cult as well. In the age of the Internet, things have evolved and it is easy to be arrogant and know it all. Because the Internet gives one a capacity to be semi-anonymous, people are happy to be rude and insulting to those who disagree with them. It is easy now to express without hesitation one's disdain for a fellow who might be slow in catching one's level of knowledge.

Here are my reasons ordered by importance

1. It does not always work. The reason is that when scientists observe, they are only observing a sample of a phenomenon and when one produces generalisations from these, it by default left out some parts of the phenomenon. Today the approach taken by computer scientist in doing Artificial Intelligence (AI) is to abandon the idea of deterministic certainty, but embrace and live with uncertainty and work on probabilities. Ask yourself, does the science you believe in behave in an arrogant certainty?  AI computer scientists have chucked the idea that something can be determined with certainty from the world. So the models they create for a phenomenon using AI are probabilistic.

2. Most scientists today have no training in philosophy. I worked for a while in computer science and the computer scientists I have encountered have no appreciation of the role philosophy plays in their craft.If they are not scared of it, they either consider it as useless or indifferent towards it. The same is true in physical science. Steven Hawking said philosophy is dead. No offence but I think Hawking and I will be long gone and philosophy will be around. This is bad science and bad scholarship. The reason why we have this situation of science acting like religion is that philosophers have allowed them to roam, be arrogant and unchecked.

For example, the issue of causality vs correlation. When I went back to statistics, my colleagues and textbooks reminded me that correlation does not imply causation.

This is illustrated in a Chinese saying:
Do the flowers blooming bring about spring? Or does spring bring about the blooming of the flowers? You might think it is the latter for sure - but think and pause for a moment. It is an epistemological question - meaning - how to we know something is true or real..

Also this - is there only one way of explaining a physical phenomenon? Should we entrust our lives and our view of the world into the what scientists say?

 Dr. Lito Cruz and his wife Lynn.


Here is one quote from a philosopher of science about science...

Even though some scientists and many pseudo-scientists voice their allegiance to that (scientific) method, no modern philosopher of science would be unaware of at least some of its shortcomings. Modern developments in the philosophy of science have pinpointed and stressed deep-seated difficulties associated with the idea that science rests on a sure foundation acquired through observation and experiment and with the idea that there is some kind of inference procedure that enables us to derive scientific theories from such base in a reliable way. There is just no method that enables scientific theories to be proven true or even probably true.

                                                      ---- A. F Chalmers (What is This Thing Called Science)

Maybe I am influenced too much by the mathematician I admire and respect who said...

I do not believe in empirical science, I only believe in a priori truth.
                                                            - Kurt Godel

Later I will add more, like my thesis that scientists are not altruistic people who are also influenced by personal agenda using science to advance their goal.
Please remind me."



'via Blog this'

***

GJ - These are important issues. I am glad that Dr. Cruz, who is also a Lutheran minister, raised them. I will write more about this myself.

Three Presidents of Failing ELCA Seminaries

 Robin Steinke moved from the failing Gettysburg Seminary
to become the president of Luther Seminary - a merged school.
 Louise Johnson, modeling the Mark Jeske twisted smile,
moved from the failing Philadelphia ELCA Seminary to become the
president of Wartburg Seminary in Iowa.

Greetings from Wartburg Seminary!

THANK YOU! It is clear God is calling Wartburg Seminary to be BOLD for the sake of the church and we are deeply grateful for partners like you who are willing to step out into the future with us.

In 2012, we launched the 5 year $22 million Engage God's People campaign which comes to a close in just 4 days. There's still time to be a part of this campaign's success! Give today in celebration of how God is leading us into a bold new future of innovation and creativity in theological education.
With thanks,
Rev. Louise N. Johnson, President

 Theresa Latini, a Presbyterian, was called to be the new president
of the failing, merged Gettysburg and Philadelphia Seminaries:
United Lutheran Seminary.

Elizabeth Eaton, the new ELCA presiding bishop,
is three for three in creating leadership jobs in her sect.

The quota system must have been replaced
with another set of goals - 100%?

Build Up Gardening Self-Esteem with These Seeds and Plants



Adults and children can have fun with these easy growing seeds and plants. I picked the most productive, fast-growing, and reliable ones.

Sunflowers - They are great companions for any rose garden or food plot. They are enormous bases for many insects and food for many critters. They like rich soil and plenty of mulch. They may not grow fast at first, but they explode in development later.

I buy plants where I can, because the rabbits and squirrels
harvest seed and seedlings for themselves in our yard.
Shasta Daisy only needs the flowers pruned now and again.


Radishes - I have little desire to eat radishes, but the seeds are fun and convenient. They sprout so fast that they are used to mark rows of plants and break up hard soil in the process. They mature in a month but can be left to go to seed. Those seed pods are edible and milder than the roots. Later season buys for radishes will offer a lot of seed for relatively little. The same is true of many other seeds and plants.

 Borage, like many herbs, grows easily.
I like the mints as much as the pollinators do,
but I only plant the clumping mints.


Borage can come in tiny packets or 500 at a time. Shop and compare. They can be sown rather than planted. They love bright sunlight and improve the beneficial insect rating in the yard. The tiny flowers can be eaten directly or added to salads - pink and blue. They flower and seed so fast that new borage will start growing the same summer. Bees love the flower so much they are called Bee Bread.

 How can anyone dislike dill?


Dill seeds smell like dill pickles, for good reason. I like large numbers of Giant Dill to sow in the garden. A member of the carrot family, it attracts good insects without poisoning the gardener - an important factor in buying and using a member of that naughty clan.

Peas and Spinach are great for cold weather planting. Bored of shoveling snow? Plant peas and spinach as early as possible and listen to the neighbors marvel at your density. Both crops love the cold - just like lettuce -  and hate the heat. I joined the lunatic fringe in planting spinach late in Minnesota, covering the tiny plants with autumn leaves, and uncovering them as soon as the ice began to melt in the Spring. They were lacking any insect damage, crunchy, simply perfect. That was one of the coldest winters ever in New Ulm. Peas can be planted in the very early Spring, as soon as the seeds can be pushed into the ground. They are shallow-rooted, so it is easy to push them into the ground. I read of one fanatic who drilled the holes in the frozen soil, and that worked too.

Vines are a lot of fun, but they normally take time - years to produce. Zucchini vine plants are easy to obtain at Walmart or a gardening center. Plant a few near a chain-link fence - instant vines with produce. Warty gourds are just as fun.

 The squirrel used the bird swing to reach the
sunflower seeds. The birdbaths below are used each day
and cleaned. The Butterfly Bushes, Poke, Chaste Tree,
Gooseberry, Clethra, and Helianthus have grown up since then
.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Floral Fireworks for the Fourth of July - Crepe Myrtle Loves Attention


We arrived in Springdale with a scraggly bush growing near the mailbox. Crepe Myrtle grows anywhere, but thrives in the sun. The plant is drought tolerant, but like cactus, thrives with more moisture.

 I put prunings on the base to fed the soil, plus wood mulch,
mushroom compost, and clumps of grass. The base is much larger now and packed with companion plants.
I put a pyramid of leaves under
the Crepe Myrtle for the fall and winter.
They are composted into the soil by late spring.


I addressed the top, the middle, and the foundation.

  1. The top needed severe pruning to activate the roots and promote blooming, which arrives a bit late but lasts most of the summer. CM can re-bloom with a second complete pruning. I half-pruned last summer to spare the Cardinals nesting there, and we had a spectacular second bloom on the pruned portion.
  2. The middle needed all branches trimmed back to the stems, so the plant could show off its legs. LI laughed at the first version but said "Wow!" when the bloom arrived in full force. As rosarians know, pruning concentrates energy on the parts we want to flourish.
  3. The foundation is the soil, always the most important. Blessed with red wigglers, the plant received many bags of wood mulch, mushroom compost, and piles of leaves and grass. The base seemed to devour all the organic matter left around the base. This year I have Lily-of-the-Valley, Caladium, and Buckwheat growing around the base. I treat the plant as a rose, not as a cactus, and it already glows and dominates the block and larger neighborhood.
People insist that gardening is a lot of work, especially when growing roses. That may be their reason not to try, but I find it a weak excuse. They have been pummeled by the experts who repeat the advice of other experts, all designed to promote the industry rather than the soil. 

One Forbes article opened my eyes about gurus when they wrote about wine experts who are thralls of their industry. Rave reviews are sales pitches, paid ads with the pay under the table. Our favorite drink is Walmart private label water - 12 cents a bottle.

The Crepe Myrtle is still opening its enormous flowers. Because of pruning, the branches arch upwards, like the best July 4th fireworks, but lasting far longer. Bees are already working to turn the flowers into large seeds enjoyed by Cardinals and other birds. Imagine how they must feel when nesting there - "Are we going out for lunch or staying in and having Crepe Myrtle seeds?"

 Norma Boeckler's Butterflies.


Pruned Roses Are Doubled Roses
My favorite part of each day is pruning roses for someone. We have one neighbor with serious health problems, another neighbor who regularly takes roses to the graves of his mother and step-father. Others go to medical staffs and others we see in the region.

Pruning roses and other flowers is a natural way to get even more flowers. I prune the Spirea, the Shasta Daisies, and a few other flowers. The German saying is literally "a divided joy is a joy doubled," based on the word for cut. So, when I cut roses, I make them healthier and more eager to bloom. I remove deadwood and crossing canes. The end result is a vase of perfect roses, usually long-stemmed. 

Everyone wants to enjoy the fragrance of roses, so I include the best ones in each arrangement, tastefully popped into plastic cups, which are often returned to me. 

One Easy Does It stem, on the altar yesterday, had 10 flowers and buds on it. That is now next door, cheering up Mr. and Mrs. Gardener. 

I pointed out the rare, healthy John Paul II. The white rose is a magnet for aphid attacks early in the season. Those plants are fore-ordained to be the food base for beneficial insects that live from aphids and other pests. To keep the pest-eaters happy and living local, I let the rose pests munch away, which alone is enough to call up the troops. 

The John Paul II are sickly and sapped, literally, at the moment, but they will be great displays the rest of the summer, when the spiders, Ichneumons, Flower Flies, Pirate Bugs, and Tachinids have established their families. Many times I have cut a perfect rose with a solid spider web at the base of the long cane. No insect got past Shelob's lair on the way up, and if pests landed on the bud, beneficial insects took care of the villains.

Because the creatures and plants respond according to the rules established by the Creating Word, John 15:1-10, there is relatively little work involved in a flourishing garden.

Recent study showed me that while organic matter was crucial for good soil, most of the increase came from living roots. I had been emphasizing organic matter added on top of the soil - no mixing is needed. That is still an ongoing effort. 

But now I see how the tremendous energy of the roots is even more important for 
  1. The fungus-root network, 
  2. The softening of the soil,
  3. The infiltration of rain and snow-melt,
  4. The feeding of all the soil microbes and creatures. 
The gloomy browns of early spring - no front-yard grass - have given way to the almost unlimited bloomy colors of roses, companion plants, and cover crops. The roses bloom in red, orange, yellow, and white. Companion plants are the Spirea pink bushes, the purple Cat Mints, the white Mountain Mints, and a few others. Cover crops in the rose garden are Buckwheat with white blooms, Wild Strawberries with tiny white rose blooms (same family), Borage (pink and blue), and a few others. 

Some experimental plants are Hidden Lily and Joe Pye Weed. Hidden Lily (aka Wild Ginger) is neither a lily nor a ginger. The tuber grows like a weed, blooms like Cana, and is winter hardy. Joe Pye is a weed if someone insists, but it is more of a tall herb that butterflies love. 


Clethra are just starting to bloom.

WELS Scandal - Their Brug "Translation" - Evidence of Plagiarism

 Warning - Plagiarism Ahead.
Mequon's copy and paste training bites them in the Book.

Some WELS members already realize this - their precious Evangelical Heritage Version is marred by obvious plagiarism.

Examples will be posted later. Doubtless Herman Otten will rave about how good this is, though nothing compared to his own Beck Bible - now on sale at Christian News.

I was discussing this issue with a member last night. I grew up with the KJV and have no problems with it. I enjoy some of the antique language and seldom have problems. He appreciates the KJV21's devotion to precision translation, so that edition has improved the word order of the old KJV and replaced some words we never use anymore.

If everyone in the same room used his favorite edition of the King James family of Bibles - and they are legion - the variations would be slight and the Greek text foundation would be the same. The King James Bibles are derived from William Tyndale and Martin Luther. The modern translations all rely on the magical Nestle-Aland Tischendorf fantasy, so they change the text on a whim, based on their invented rules.

Old Nick realizes he can accomplish more with a bad translation than with a good Church Growth program, so the rot continues. Tim Glende should be proud of his Uncle John Brug for exemplifying the family tradition, illustrated below.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Second Sunday after Trinity, 2017.







The Second Sunday after Trinity, 2017 

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

The melodies are linked in the hymn name. 
The lyrics are linked in the hymn number.
The Hymn #466                                Christ Thou Art
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #371                          Jesus Thy Blood                       

The Fruit of Faith in Christ

The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #660                            I'm But a Stranger Here           

KJV 1 John 3:13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

KJV Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Second Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we give thanks unto Thee, that through Thy holy word Thou hast called us to Thy great supper, and we beseech Thee: Quicken our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not hear Thy word without fruit, but that we may prepare ourselves rightly for Thy kingdom, and not suffer ourselves to be hindered by any worldly care, through Thy beloved Son. Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.



The Fruit of Faith in Christ

KJV 1 John 3:13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 

Someone asked me if Justification by Faith was making any progress among the Lutherans. Without question, many are now aware of the great falling away (apostasy) from the Chief Article of the Christian Religion, the Master and Prince, the doctrine that judges all other articles of faith.

At the same time, now that the difference between the Biblical doctrine of Justification by Faith and the rationalistic dogma of Justification without Faith (UOJ) is clear, the "conservative" Lutherans are piping up with smart alec responses to the challenge or grieved criticisms about what I have written. 

I have thought about this often, because of the way clergy and laity are treated by their own leaders. If someone has a legitimate question, that individual is trashed in every way possible. If a pastor is an addicted, abusive, false teacher, then the leaders do everything possible to protect the villain and attack anyone who thinks pastors should be sober teachers of Biblical doctrine.

Incompetent and abusive pastors are handy tools for a synod to shut down a congregation and grab the equity built up in the property, sometimes by decades of offerings. The pastor who wrecks the congregation is given a call and a stooge is put in that place to watch it crumble around him and to take the blame. His family suffers with him, but he is expendable. 

Luther wrote about the treatment of pastors in his own time - a perfect description of the synodical leaders today. 






Many suffer from the results of this lack of faith today. I have been reading about the LCMS clergy, shaking in their rabbit warrens, afraid to speak out about anything, lest SP Matt Harrison kick them out of the ministerium and therefore out of their calls. Their own synod convention voted for this papal ruling, but Missouri is no different from the others, whose leaders are just as wrathful if anyone questions them.

WELS was so terrified of the Intrepid Lutherans, which SP Mark Schroeder wanted as his own lobbying group, that they told everyone to quit and of course they did, starting with the founder, Schroeder's friend Steve Spencer. The trouble was, the group became sentient and no longer agreed robotically with the sect. Thus they had to be silenced.

The mini-bishop of the ELDONA micro-sect is so afraid of ideas that he had his hangman get rid of non-kosher books and murmur a few threats as a bonus.

So the Apostle John wrote, "Do not marvel if the unbelieving world hate you."

Unbelief is always going to bristle at faith. That is the nature of unbelief. They acknowledge faith to a certain extent - they believe but their hides bristle. But this is a reaction of fear and hatred, not of trust in Christ and His Word.

Luther saw and experienced the practices of his time - grand spectacles of holiness, but no foundation of faith. Someone can wear the most expensive robes and burn the best incense, carefully observing the gestures and practices of the ancients, but have no faith - even teach against faith.

We are seeing the Reformation era reborn before our eyes - the worst part of it. The more Rome grew away from the Gospel, the more elaborate the ceremonies became.

Thus the supposed answer of the conservative Lutherans to Church Growth Fullerism is to stage elaborate worship services - while teaching against faith. Thus they imagine that their high church entertainments will counter the Fuller low church praise bands. But what is being taught? For example, the LCMS leaders of their Jungendbund - Higher Things - stage elaborate worship services while teaching against Justification by Faith. When I challenged them on this, they kicked me off their FB page and hid their hideous dogma that was previously so brazenly promoted on their Higher Things websty.

14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 

These days we have a new definition of love. One definition is Antinomianism, no law, actually anti-law. Our society claims that to say that anything is a sin means one is unloving. That word unloving is said with great gloom, doom, and condemnation, but no one seems to spot the irony. To identify false doctrine as such - that is really unloving.

The Apostle John was known for living in Ephesus, for taking care of Mary, and for emphasizing love. His motto was "Love one another." 

Therefore, people have corrupted the teaching of the Apostle, ignoring the foundation of his letter - faith in Christ.

1 John 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

So the corrupters say, "We have to be more loving and not talk about doctrine all the time." They have programs to make people smile more - have greeters! - and hide away anything that might offend. I heard a WELS favorite say to a group of pastors, "The best sermon will do no good if the ushers are not friendly." Thus the Word of God is not effective, but the smiles of the ushers are! Oh blessed new-evangelism, that we can smile people into the Kingdom of God.

No wonder the lazy Lutheran Church Growthers copy their sermons from Babtists and Methodists. It does not matter what they preach if the ushers smile.

This is very important - what do these poseurs mean when they say "doctrine"? They do not want Biblical doctrine to offend and annoy the unbelievers or idle by-standers. But their precious doctrine is nothing more than synodical opinions, ever-changing dogma wrapped up in the sanctity of the sect. 

The Gospel of John and the First Epistle both emphasize that the reaction of unbelief to the Gospel is hatred. As Luther wrote, the Apostles lived in poverty and hurt no one, but they were killed for teaching the Gospel. 

15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

Lenski:
The one not loving (thus) remains in the death; his not-loving being the plain evidence. John once more writes the verb "remains," which appears throughout this letter. The fact that love always shows itself, just as does the absence of love, John will add presently. 
15) It startles us when John adds: Everyone hating his brother is a man-murderer. So the world hates us and thereby attests its Cainlike nature. Whether blood is actually shed or not makes no difference (Matt. 5:22). is the very word that Jesus used with reference to the devil in John 8:44; it applies to all the devil's children (v. 10b); included among these are the antichristians who have gone out from us (2:19). John has called the latter liars (1:6, 10; 2:22) and combines liar and man-murderer as Jesus does in John 8:44. Let the deniers of the deity and of the expiation of Jesus (1:7; 2:2) read this double verdict on them!

There are many examples of this across Protestantism, not to mention the Church of Rome. But let's stick with the Protestants. They have done such things as:

  • Sued a church to take its property away, only to lock it up or sell it cheap to another group. Crime - being traditional. Episcopal.
  • Stolen a church property and its endowment, using the endowment funds to defend the theft. WELS.
  • Left a synod because it was evil, then joined again to have a call and take the property away. ELDONA.
  • Closed hundreds of small parishes because of a lack of interest in them, depriving people of their church. United Methodist.
  • Moved clergy to new areas to whitewash what they did, whether a DUI arrest, murder, adultery and abandonment, etc. Various "conservative" Lutheran groups.
Hatred of the Word of God translates to hatred of the brothers. The leaders live in luxury, dress in fine clothes, dine on steaks daily, and blame honest pastors for being swindled, defrauded, and slandered. Most people would never believe the evil plans executed at their church headquarters, but lack of general knowledge does not count in God's eyes.



So this verse should comfort many who were and are faithful to the Word. Being hated, shunned, and silenced may be awkward in human society, but Jesus said - "Blessed are you..." The cross is a blessing because it is God's unique sign that opposition is showing what is true and noble.

Luther simply assumed he would be arrested and killed. He lived under that sentence many years. If we count 1517 as the start of the Reformation, then his marriage in 1525 was under that sentence. Thirteen years into the Reformation, Luther could not attend the Diet of Augsburg because of the certainty of arrest and death. He stayed in a castle and wrote back and forth.

Many today cannot last 13 months under a much lighter sentence, so far we have failed to appreciate what others faced for generations in the future.

16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Once again, the Gospel is proclaimed. This is the treasure, as labeled by Jesus and by Luther (not the precious gems of wisdom from Fuller Seminary, the pebbles from Willow Creek,  and the musings of Jewish atheists like Frankl).

Jesus laid down His life for us - that is the Gospel which plants and sustains faith in our hearts. Laying down our lives seems far too strong, but in fact, many have done that in faith. They have let themselves be murdered - even today - rather than give up the Faith.

Our love for others can only be founded upon His love for us. The energy of the Gospel bears fruit in love. 

A sad fact of modern Protestantism is that some say - 
  • We have to be happy to make people want what we have.
  • We have to be loving to make them love the Gospel of Jesus.
  • We have to be doing all these things to prove our love.
Those are vain efforts to accomplish something by starting with the fruit of the Gospel (all about us) rather than the Gospel itself, which is clearly - even sternly - proclaimed in the Gospel of John and throughout the Bible. There is no substitute for starting with His love, His righteousness.

Anything apart from faith in Him will be some form of righteousness through works, which comes out very quickly when false teachers are agitated. 

17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

This, by the way, is the same message as James offers, but that eludes those who want to find fault with Luther and Justification by Faith. When people pit one part of the Bible against another, they are looking for trouble, and the blind are leading the blind.

Luther urged people to look at themselves and see if they had contrition for sin, compassion for others, because thankfulness for the Gospel naturally leads to love for our neighbor.

18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

This could be written by James, so we can see how much the Bible is in harmony. The people who offer a quick summary, based on repeat-after-me learning, will have a quip or two. However, they fail to see the Scriptures as a unified Truth, the Book of the Holy Spirit.



"We preach no other doctrine than faith in Christ, which our children pray and they themselves confess in words."
Luther's Epistle Sermon for the Second Sunday after Trinity, 1 John 3:13-18

Norma Boeckler


TEXT:


1 JOHN 3:13-18. 13 Marvel not, brethren, if the world hateth you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath the world’s goods, and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth.

EXHORTATION TO BROTHERLY LOVE.

1. The Epistles and Gospels selected for the Pentecost cycle of Sundays have love as their general theme. They deal not only with the love we owe to Christ and God, which is only to be thankful for the unspeakable blessing of forgiveness of sins and salvation through Christ’s blood and death, but also of the love we owe our neighbor; not a love in return for favors, but one that unceasingly gives, forgives and works all good even when unrequited.

2. John here admonishes the Christian to exercise the virtue of love.

Considering the evident rarity of love among men, this admonition is necessary. He particularly warns Christians not to wonder at the world’s hatred and desire for their death. Such was the hate of Cain for his brother, of which the apostle has just spoken. The world’s hate, it must be admitted, repels love and powerfully obstructs its exercise.

3. Is it not surpassing strange that one can hate those who love him and from whom he has received only kindness? Such wickedness is almost inconceivable, we say. What incentive is there for any to render the world service when in ingratitude it rewards love with hatred? But let us examine ourselves, who are baptized and have received the Gospel, and confess how we requite the supreme love of God in giving us his Son. What a beautiful example of glad gratitude we display! For the shame of it we ought to despise ourselves before God and his angels.

And what shall we say of those who will not endure the preaching of the glorious message of God’s grace and blessing, but condemn it as heresy? to whom they who seek to serve, to benefit and save the world by declaring the good news, must be, as Paul says, “as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things,” 1 Corinthians 4:13. Indeed, no criminal receives more wretched and ignominous treatment and execution, of which the Pope and his followers are a case in point.

THE WORLD’S HATRED.

4. While experience has proven this otherwise incredible fact, John vouchsafes the admonition notwithstanding: “Marvel not, brethren, if the world hateth you.” If we are not to wonder at this, is there anything in the world to incite wonder? I should truly think the hearing of a single sermon on the grace of Christ would suffice to bring the world to receive the Gospel with intense joy and never to forget the divine mercy and blessing.

It would be no wonder should the earth suddenly open and engulf mankind because of its ingratitude to God who has given his Son to become man for the purpose of redeeming us condemned mortals from sin and death and restoring us to life and salvation. Is it not a horrible thing that any man should shun and oppose such a Savior and his doctrine even more than he does the devil himself?

5. But what is God’s attitude toward such conduct? Well does he say to the Jews through the prophet: “O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me. For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of bondage; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. O my people, remember now what Balak, king of Moab, devised; and what Balaam, the son of Beor, answered him; remember from Shittim unto Gilgal, that ye may know the righteous acts of Jehovah.” Micah 6:3-5. And well does Christ say to his ungrateful people: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her ! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Matthew 23:37. As if he would say, “I surely did not come to effect your death and condemnation by my message. I am about to suffer death and God’s wrath for your sins. I bring you God’s endless grace and blessing for time and eternity. Then why this bitter hatred against me and my message?”

6. “Since the world hates even God for his kindness,” argues John, “marvel not, my beloved, that you suffer the same fate. What does it signify that I show my love by hazarding life and limb to sustain this doctrine of the Gospel and help my neighbor? Mine is but a poor, mean, uncouth, offensive love in comparison with the love that led Christ to die for me and to redeem me from eternal death. If God’s supreme, unfathomable love fails to awaken the gratitude of the world, what wonder if the world hates you for all your kindness? Why will you bring down your fist and stamp your foot in anger at such ingratitude? You are yourselves of that race for whom the Son of God had to die. And even were you to die for the Gospel, your sacrifice would be as nothing in comparison to the fact that God, for the sake of the world, spared not his own Son but permitted the world to put him to death.”

7. But whence arises the world’s hatred? John tells us in verse twelve when he mentions the incident of Cain, who, he says, “was of the evil one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” An excellent reason, indeed, for hating—the hater and murderer is evil and the benefactor good! In civil and domestic affairs it is the evil-doers and disobedient who incur displeasure and receive punishment; and such reward is just. But whenever God has dealings with the world, it shows what a rotten fruit it is by hating, persecuting, and putting to death as evil-doers and impostors its very benefactors. This trait it inherits, John tells us, from its ancestor Cain, the great fratricide saint.

He is a true picture of the world of all times, and ever its spirit and fashion is patterned after him.

8. When mother Eve, the dear, godly woman, bore her first son, she declared in her joy and her hope of God’s promise of the future seed that should bruise the serpent’s head: “I have gotten a man with the help of Jehovah” ( Genesis 4:1); and she named him Cain, which means “obtained,” as if she would say, “I have obtained the true treasure.” For she had not before seen a human being born; this was the first, precious fruit of man. Over Cain she rejoiced, pronouncing herself blessed. This son was trained in the hope that he should be a savior of the future race, a comfort to his brothers and sisters with all their offspring. Nor was he unaware of these proud hopes. Proudly he lorded it over his brother, who in contrast had to bear the ignominious name of Abel, meaning “nothing,” or “vanity,” as if voicing the thought of the parents’ hearts: “Alas! this one has no future. Cain is the rightful heir to the blessing God has promised man; he is lord and master of his brethren.”

9. It is likely that the godly father and mother for many years drew their solace from the hope placed in their first-born son, as they looked forward with intensest longing to the redemption from their deplorable fall.

Doubtless they trained both sons very carefully and instructed them concerning their own sin and fall and the promise God had given them, until they were fully grown and had entered into the priestly office. Cain the first-born was particularly zealous in that respect, desiring to be first inasmuch as he offered his first fruits of the earth, given by God and obtained by his own labor, as he no doubt had seen his father offer. Abel, however, the inferior, the poor shepherd, offered the firstlings of his sheep, given him of God and obtained without effort and toil of his own. Now, God in a wonderful way manifested his preference concerning the gifts upon the altar. Fire descended from heaven and consumed Abel’s offering, but Cain’s remained. The fire was the sign of God’s favor. The text says: “And Jehovah had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.” Genesis 4:4-5.

10. Thereupon Adam and Eve saw that the hope and solace centering in their first-born son, were a delusion. They began to learn the wonderful judgments of God, who gave precedence to Abel, the male counterpart of Cinderella —which is all he was in his own sight when he compared himself with his brother. Now Cain, with full confidence in his position, spoiled by the delusion of his parents that as the first-born he was God’s preference, felt himself outraged. His hypocrisy, hitherto masked, comes to the surface. He burns with secret hate against God, with hate and anger against his brother, which he takes no trouble whatever to disguise. The parents rebuke him, but effect nothing. The flame of his resentment rises higher, and meeting him alone upon the field, he fells him to the ground.

Far from contemplating amendment of life or seeking grace from God, he has no mercy upon the only brother he has on earth, who has done him no harm whatever. He cannot forgive him and leave him in unenvied possession of the grace of God.



11. Such was the solace and joy poor Adam and Eve lived to experience in their first children! From this time on their earthly life was fraught with gloom and sorrow, particularly since they could not but see the source of these in their own fall and they would have pined to death had not God comforted them with another son. For when it became evident that the hope they had placed in Cain was a delusion, and that they were deprived of the son who, beyond a doubt, possessed the grace of God, they, without another son, would not have known where to look for the solace of the promised seed.

CAIN THE WORLD, ABEL THE CHURCH.

12. Note, in this man Cain is pictured the world in its true, characteristic colors; in him its true spirit stands reflected. Certainly his equal has never been. In him are unquestionably prefigured the very flower, the very quintessence, of holiness on earth—the most pious servants of God. On the other hand, that poor, wretched, abject male counterpart of Cinderella, Abel, well represents the obscure little brotherhood, the Church of Christ.

She must yield to Cain the lord the distinction of being everything before God, of being the recipient of every gift of God, of being entitled to all honor and every privilege. He feels important in his imagined dignity, permits this spirit to pervade his sacrifices and his worships, and thinks that God cannot but favor and accept his offering rather than that of his brother.

Meanwhile, the pious Abel goes his way, meekly suffering his brother’s contempt. He willingly yields Cain the honor, esteems himself vastly inferior and beholds no consolation for himself aside from the pure mercy and goodness of God. He believes in God and hopes for the promised future seed. In such faith he performs his sacrifice as a confession, a sign, of his gratitude.

13. This illustration is intended by God as solace for his little throng; for the incident is not written for Abel’s sake but for the sake of the humble children of God, whose condition is like that of Abel. God has not forgotten them, though they are haughtily ignored by proud Cain, who regards them as nothing in his presence. God graciously looks upon them and rejects proud Cain with his birthright and offering.

14. Innocent Abel becomes the object of anger and hatred when the Word of God lays hold of Cain revealing God’s displeasure where he had fancied himself worthy, and God’s unwillingness to regard his offering and devotion as superior to this of his brother and more meritorious. Cain begins bitterly to hate and persecute his brother. He finds no rest until Abel is laid low and cut off from the earth. Now you have the cause of the world’s hatred and anger against Christians; simply this, as John says of Cain: “Because his works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.”

15. What offense had godly Abel committed against his brother to be so hated? He had even regarded that brother as the first-born, as vastly superior to himself, and had done him all honor and loved him as became a brother. He was easily satisfied, desiring simply the grace of God. He prayed for the future seed, that is, for the salvation and happiness of his parents, his brother and the entire human race. How could Cain be unmerciful and inhuman enough in his frenzy to murder his own flesh and blood?

The answer is found in the fact that the devil had filled Cain’s heart with pride and vanity over his birthright. He considered himself a man of distinction, with every claim upon God’s favor and sinless, whilst his brother was nothing whatever. Cain’s heart is devoid of true brotherly love; he has only contempt for Abel. He cannot endure God’s manifest favor toward his brother, and will not be moved by the injunction to humble himself and seek God’s grace. Anger and envy possess him to the extent that he cannot tolerate his brother alive. In violation of God’s commandment and his own conscience, he becomes a murderer, and then goes his way as if he had done right.

16. This is what John means when he says that Cain had no other cause for his crime than that his own works were evil and his brother’s righteous.

Similarly, that obedient daughter of Saint Cain, the world, hates the Christians; and for no other reason than the latter’s love and goodness of heart. Witness the examples of the holy patriarchs, the prophets and, most of all, of Christ himself.

17. What sin against the world did the beloved apostles commit? They desired the injury of none, but went about in extreme poverty and toil, teaching mankind how, through faith in Christ, to be saved from the devil’s kingdom and from eternal death. This the world will not hear and suffer; hence the hue and cry: “Kill, kill these people ! Away with them from off the earth ! Show them no mercy !” Why this hostility? Because the apostles sought to relieve the world of its idolatry and damnable doings. Such good works the world could not tolerate. What it desires is nothing but praise and commendation for its own evil doings, expecting from God the impossible endorsement, “Your deeds are good and well-pleasing to me.

Pious children of mine are you. Just keep on cheerfully killing all who believe and preach my Word.”

18. In the same way does the world conduct itself today with reference to our Gospel. For no other reason are we hated and persecuted than because we have, through God’s grace, proclaimed his Word that recovered us from the blindness and idolatry in which we were sunken as deeply as the world, and because we desire to rescue others. That is the unpardonable sin by which we have incurred the world’s irreconcilable anger and its inextinguishable hatred. It cannot permit us to live.

We preach no other doctrine than faith in Christ, which our children pray and they themselves confess in words. We differ only in our claim that Christ having been crucified for us and having shed his blood to redeem us from sin and death, our salvation is not effected by our own works, or holiness or devotion. The fact that we do not regard their faithless worship equal to Christ himself, but teach men to trust in the grace of God and not their own worthiness, and to render him gratitude for his grace—this fact is intolerable to the world. It would be well for our adversaries if they would receive such teaching, since it would render them more than ever what they profess to be: our superiors in wisdom, knowledge and reputation—a claim we are willing to concede. But Cain’s works are evil and Abel’s righteous.

The world simply cannot tolerate the Gospel, and no unity or harmony is ever to be hoped for. The world will not forsake its idolatry nor receive the faith. It would force us to renounce the Word of God and praise its Cainlike worship, or take death at their hands.

19. Therefore, John says, “Marvel not, brethren, if the world hateth you,” for it is compelled to act according to the nature inherited from its father Cain. It would have all merits and concede to Abel none. The world comprises the exalted, the wise, the learned, the mighty. The Scriptures represent these as under necessity to hate and persecute the poor throng of the Church of Christ by reason of the good works done by them. They can under no consideration tolerate the idea of being taught by this despised and humble throng the doctrine of salvation through the grace and mercy of God alone, not through man’s own merits. They cannot endure the teaching that their offering—the mass, regarded by the Papists as a work of superlative merit and holiness—avails nothing before God.

20. In the text the nature of the world is portrayed for our recognition. So to understand the world as to know what may be expected from it is essential and valuable knowledge for the Christian. Thus armed he will not be dismayed and become impatient of suffering, nor permit its malice and ingratitude to mislead him to hate and desire for revenge. He will keep his faith and love, suffering the world to go its way if it refuse to hear his message. The Christian should expect nothing better from the world than its bitter persecution in return for his good works and love. The Church of Christ on earth, let him remember, is never to have an easier lot. He is not to judge according to show and appearance, thinking: “They are the great throng, the wisest and cleverest people on earth; how is it possible that they should all be in error and under condemnation?”

21. It is necessarily true that discipline and peace are impossible without the most excellent, exalted, erudite, clever people—royal, princely, noble in achievement and honor. Cain is never plain and lowly. He is always eminently clever, wise, holy and in every way vastly Abel’s superior. In fact, he must in himself represent all desirable things, as his name indicates.

And the same characteristic is manifest in his children, who are ingenious in the invention of every variety of art. Deplorable the fact that a man of Cain’s qualifications, born of godly parents and signally honored of God, should display such hatred and inhumanity toward poor Abel merely because of God’s Word and Abel’s faith.

22. Such knowledge is comforting to the godly little company of Christians, who are confident they have God’s favor and know it to be the occasion of their persecution; they have no protection and succor but are exposed to the same fate as Abel. If they fare better, they may thank God for it. But they are ever to abide in love toward God, whose love they have received and felt, and likewise toward men, their enemies not excepted.

This was Abel’s way; could he have lived again, he would have kept his brotherly love for his murderer, forgiving him and even imploring God’s forgiveness for him. “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren.”

LOVE MOVES CHRISTIANS.

23. To abide in love should be the motive for us Christians. John contrasts it with the motive of the world in hating us—its wickedness. The world’s hatred of you, as John words imply, is not strange. The contrast between you and the world is exceedingly great. Through its own evil works, unbelief, pride, contempt for the Word and grace of God, and the persecution of the godly, the world has become by this time the victim of Satan and eternal death. It spurns all counsel and aid directed toward its rescue. Stiff-necked and hardened, under evident condemnation by its own conscience, it has chosen to persist in its doom. But we believers in Christ, God be praised! are different people. We have come forth from death; we have passed through death and entered into life through the knowledge and faith of the Son of God, who has loved us and given himself for us.

24. Such grace and goodness of God, says the apostle, should prompt you not to be offended and vanquished by the world’s ingratitude, hate and malice, and thus to cease from holy endeavor and become likewise, evil, which course will result in the loss of your treasure. It is yours, not by your own effort, but by grace alone; for at one time you as well as they 1anguished in the kingdom and power of death, in evil works, far from faith and love.

Remember to comfort yourselves, therefore, with the thought of this great blessing, an advantage you enjoy above the others. What if the world, abiding in death, does hate and persecute you who abide in life? Whom can its hatred injure? It cannot take from you the life which it lacks while you possess it, nor deliver you to death, from which you have passed, through Christ. When it does its worst it may perhaps falsely slander you, or deprive you of your property, or destroy your corrupt body—the final home of maggots and in any event doomed to corruption—and thus through the death of the body help you gain true life. Thus vengeance will be yours rather than its own. Yours will be the joy of being transplanted from death into life, whereas the world must abide in death. While they of the world think to deny you both the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of earth, they themselves lose body and soul What more terrible retribution could their hatred and envy receive? For the sake of denying gratification to the devil and the world, and much more for your own welfare, you must not allow your persecutions to rob you of your peace and salvation, nor to lead you to lose your faith through impatience and desire for revenge.

Rather, pity their wretchedness and doom. You lose nothing by their oppression; yours is the gain, theirs the loss. For the slight grief inflicted upon you with reference to body and time, it shall dearly pay both here and hereafter.

25. How do we know we have passed from death unto life? John says, because we love the brethren. Just what does he mean? Is it not our doctrine that Christ first loved us, as John elsewhere says? that before we ever loved him he died and rose again for us? When we fully believe in our Savior’s love, then our own hearts respond with perfect love to God and our neighbor. Why, then, does John say, “We have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren” ?

26. The explanation is found in the words “We know.” John says plainly, “From the fact that we love the brethren, we know we have passed out of death into life.” Love of the brethren is the test whereby we may ascertain who are the true believers. The apostle directed this epistle especially against false Christians; many there are who extol Christ, as did unbelieving Cain, and yet fail to bear the fruit of faith. John’s reference is not to the means whereby we pass from sin and death to life, but to the proof whereby we may know the fact—not to the cause, but to the effect.

27. It is not sufficient to boast of having passed from death into life; there must be evidence of the fact. Faith is not an inactive and lifeless thing.

When there is faith in the heart, its power will be manifest. Where power is not in evidence, all boasting is false and vain. When the human heart, in its confidence in divine mercy and love, is thrilled with spiritual comfort, and also warmed into kindness, friendliness, humility and patience towards the neighbor, envying and despising none but cheerfully serving all and ministering unto necessity even to hazarding body and life —when this is the case, then the fruits of faith are manifest.

Such fruits are proof that the believer has truly passed from death into life.

Had he not true faith, but doubted God’s grace and love, his heart would not prompt him, by reason of his love and gratitude to God, to manifest love for his neighbor. Where man has faith, and where he realizes God’s infinite mercy and goodness in raising him from death to life, love is enkindled in his heart, and he is prompted to do all manner of good, even to his enemies, as God has done to him.

28. Such is the right interpretation and understanding of John’s expression: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren.” It leaves in its integrity the foundation, justification, or deliverance from death, through faith alone. This is the first element of Christian doctrine. Granting that faith does justify, the next question is whether the faith is real or simulated, being merely a deceptive show and unsupported claim. The clear information imparted by the apostles is, that love, indeed, does not deliver from death, but that deliverance from death and the presence of life becomes a matter of sight and knowledge in that love has been wrought. With true faith we must have come to the point where we no longer, like Cain, in our pride and conceit, despise our neighbor; where we are not filled with envy, hatred and bitterness; where we desire, and to the extent of our power, promote the interests of our neighbor and work him all good.

29. John draws to a close by showing the opposite side of the picture, in that he addresses earnest words that reecho like peals of thunder to those who make the carnal boast of being Christians while destitute of love. He cites several facts as evidence that where love is lacking, necessarily faith and deliverance from death are absent, likewise. Thus no opportunity is given for self-deception or a frivolous excuse based upon wordy boasting of one’s faith. The reality of the inner life is known by the presence of love, which in turn attests the presence of faith in the heart.

I.

“HE THAT LOVETH NOT ABIDETH IN DEATH.”

30. Here, in clear, decisive words, the conclusion is expressed that no man may boast of life unless he has love. If it is true that faith must be active, it is conversely true that the absence of fruitage demonstrates one’s continuance in the old Cain-like manner of existence, torpid and dead, bereft of solace and the experience of God’s grace and life. Let no one presume to think he has passed into life so long as he is devoid of love and the fruits of faith. Let him become serious, and in alarm make ready to become a true believer, lest he remain in eternal death and under greater condemnation than those who have never heard the Gospel.

II.

“WHOSOEVER HATETH HIS BROTHER IS A MURDERER:

AND YE KNOW THAT NO MURDERER HATH ETERNAL LIFE ABIDING IN HIM.”

31. Still clearer and stronger becomes the argument that lack of love means continuance in death. The stern and frightful judgment is here expressed that the unloving person is no better than Cain the fratricide. His heart is under the influence of deadly hate and murderous malice against the brother who refuses to be subservient to his desires. Kindling rage will prove its existence by appropriate works unless restrained by the fear of disgrace and punishment. He wishes his brother nothing good, but rejoices in his misfortune.

All this, however, is impossible for one who believes that he has been delivered from death. One who knows the wretchedness and misery of death from experience, but has entered upon life with its solace and joy, blessings he seeks to maintain—such a person will desire for others the same blessing; he cannot rejoice in another’s death. Therefore it is true conversely: “We know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”

HATRED NATURAL TO HUMAN REASON.

32. Thus we see the nature of the human heart without faith and the knowledge of Christ; at bottom it is but the heart of a Cain, murderous toward its neighbor. Nor can anything better be expected from him who is not a Christian. The Scriptures repeatedly denounce such faithless hypocrites as bloodthirsty and deceitful. “Jehovah abhorreth the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.” Psalm 5:6. “For their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.” Proverbs. 1:16. See also verse 11. All mankind are by nature the children of the murderer Cain. They are, of course, no better than their father. While Cain was a man most magnificent, intelligent and wise, being the first fruit born of those holy parents Adam and Eve, and in his superior endowment with natural virtues infinitely superior to all who come after him, he was nevertheless an unbeliever before God. Hence he became the murderer of his brother.

III.

“Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath the world’s goods, and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how doth the love of God abide in him?”

33. These words delineate true Christian love and hold up the sublime example, or pattern, of God’s love manifest in Christ. Christ’s blood and death is God’s own blood and death. Paul in Acts 20:28, speaks of God having purchased the Church “with his own blood.” The heart of man by faith receives and apprehends this sacrifice. Under its transforming influence he is disposed to work good to his neighbor as he has himself received good. He even jeopardizes his life to that end, being conscious of his redemption from eternal death, and knowing physical death powerless to affect his eternal life. But the heart that fails to appropriate Christ’s sacrifice is without faith and insensible to God’s love and eternal life.

34. John uses an illustration plain enough for anyone to understand, and from which we may judge that the soul found wanting in small duties will be deficient in great ones. According to the apostle, if one possesses this world’s goods and sees his neighbor want, he being able to render assistance without injury to himself, and yet closes his heart against that neighbor, not assisting him with even the slightest work of love, how can the love of God dwell in him since he appreciates it so little that he will not spare his needy brother a penny? How can he be expected, then, to render a greater service—to even lay down his life for his brother? What right has such a soul to boast—how can he know—that Christ has laid down his life for him and delivered him from death?

35. How frequently are such people to be found! Having this world’s goods and being able to help the needy, they close their hearts against the unfortunate, as did the rich glutton toward poor Lazarus. Where shall we find in imperial courts, among kings, princes and lords, any who extend a helping hand to the needy Church, or give her so much as a crust of bread toward the maintenance of the poor, of the ministry and of schools, or for other of her necessities? How would they measure up in the greater duty of laying down their lives for the brethren, and especially for the Christian Church? Note the terrible judgment that they who are devoid of brotherly love are in God’s sight murderers and cannot have eternal life.

36. But the merely selfish may well escape our censure in comparison with those who not only close their purses to the poor but shamelessly and forcibly deprive and rob their needy neighbor of his own by overreaching, by fraud, oppression and extortion; who take from the Church the property rightfully hers and especially reserved for her, snatching the bread from her mouth, so to speak. Not only is the papistical rabble today guilty of such sin, but many who would be known as evangelical practice the same fraud with reference to the parochial estates and general property of the Church, and, in addition, tyrannically harass and torment the poor ministers. But oh, how heavy and terrible the impending judgment for those who have denied to Christ the Lord in his thirst even the cup of cold water!

IV.

“MY LITTLE CHILDREN, LET US NOT LOVE IN WORD, NEITHER WITH THE TONGUE; BUT IN DEED AND TRUTH.”

37. The world and the false Christians in word pretend great love; but in practice, when love should manifest itself in deeds, it is found to be insincere. So John admonishes that where our love is not ardent enough to lead us to lay down our lives for our brethren, however much we may profess Christ, that love is assuredly only a vain show, a false pretense, wherewith we deceive ourselves and remain in infidelity and death, and in a more deplorable condition than those who are wholly ignorant of the Gospel. Therefore, let him who would proceed safely and prove himself a Christian remember to prove himself such by his deeds and works. Then men will know that he does not, a murderer and liar, like others, follow the devil. They will know, on the contrary, that he truly and with the heart clings to the Word of God, having passed from death to life.