The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream

Ash Wednesday Service, March 1 - 7 PM Central
NT Greek Lessons - Thursdays, 7 PM, 2017

Saved worship files 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

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sexagesima Sunday, 2017. The Parable of the Sower. False Teachers. Thorn in the Flesh

 Norma Boeckler - The Sower


Sexagesima Sunday, 2017

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn #190               Christ the Lord                       
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 # 339               All Hail the Power              

The Sower and the Seed

The Hymn # 308                    Invited Lord                          
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 #46              On What Has Now Been Sown               


2 Corinthians 11:19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.
20 For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.  21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.  22 Are they Hebrews? soam I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.  23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool ) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.  24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.  25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;  26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen,in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;  27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.  28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.  29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?  30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.  31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.  32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:  33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands. 12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.  2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.  3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)  4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.  5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.  6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.  7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

By Norma Boeckler

KJV Luke 8:4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: 

5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 

6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 

7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 

8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? 

10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.




The Sower and the Seed

KJV Luke 8:4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: 

The parables were mostly mysterious to the casual audience. Jesus taught the disciples their meaning privately, as shown here. Only toward the end did Jesus offer messages that His opponents recognized and hated for their truth. That made them even angrier.

If this parable is so clear, why do so few understand it today?

The Fulleroids say, "We have to study the soil before we sow any seed," and the false teachers of WELS-LCMS still echo their foolishness and stupidity. This is the Parable of the Sower and the Seed, not the Parable of Fuller and the Soil Samples.

The parable says nothing about entertaining people - or making the seed (Word) real, relevant, and relational.

Farmers and gardeners grow alarmed when they have a steady decline in growth, but these modern "growth" yahoos keep making the same mistakes and leveraging them to make them worse - constant losses in membership. Therefore, the Parable is all the more significant for what it says today, since it comes verbatim from Jesus and remains so mysterious to the ignorant, the unbelieving, and the apostate.

5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 

There are two main parts here - the sower and the seed. The sower is anyone who broadcasts the seed. Before radio, before TV, before the social media, people planted some seed by pulling it from the bag and scattering it. We planted an entire church lawn that way - hundreds of pounds of grass seed. And it rained for days afterward.

I used to sow lettuce seed the same way. If the ground was bare, I scattered lettuce seeds and had lettuce growing everywhere. Now I am more likely to sow borage the same way, since the rabbits are already over-fed. Jesus explained the parable to His disciples - and the purpose - 

10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

To this day we can see how so many open the Scriptures and know the basic content but remain blind to its meaning. I had a seminary professor who wrote an entire book on the Parables of Jesus and did not know what was in them or their intent.

This is about scattering the Word of God without worrying about where it falls. Why? This scattering is parallel to some forms of gardening, where the seed is so eager to germinate and take root (and so tiny at first) that the sower trusts simply in the power of the seed.

Experienced ministers will always say, "No one can tell what will happen, no matter what we think we know. The least likely person becomes a real leader, and the apparent leaders fade away." So there is no more temptation to make things happen. God's Word has His agenda, and not ours, as Isaiah 55 reminds us.

The seed is perfect as a metaphor for the Word of God, because both are imbued with a living power. Both are alive. Both are ready to take root. Both will take root when scattered around. Opposition and difficulties remain but the final result is an abundance of growth, as we can see everywhere the broadcast continues.

For instance, a lawyer asked to study New Testament Greek. Those I did not know asked to join the class where we study the Word of God as it was written down 20 centuries ago. 

Various companies give me bonus seeds or irresistible offers from time to time. If they remain into the season, I may toss the contents of a packet into an area. Some seed is almost like dust, it is so small. Later, someone says, "What's that?" Oh, I threw some seed there because it was leftover and I was out of regular space.

We can look at the miracles of Jesus that way. They always happened with faith. One person had such profound faith in the Savior that Jesus commended him or her for it. Were those not the first beginnings of the Christian Church, tended by the apostles after the Ascension of Jesus?  From such tiny, small, insignificant starts came the largest religion in the world, by outward measures.

As Jesus shows in His explanation - When seed falls on hardened paths, it cannot take root easily. Satan takes it away. One example of this is someone being in a heavily churched area and joining a large church with the hope of having a lot of clients who trust in him and suggest him to other members. He is thinking, "How smart I am to join the big church with more income potential." There may be nothing wrong with that congregation, but his heart is laying up treasures on earth and not in heaven.



6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 

The seeds that tolerate rocky soil are few, and most of them are weeds. I had one exception - peas. They liked the gravelly soil around the garage in Midland. The gravel made the soil sweet and the peas were shallow rooted.

Most seeds are like the sunflower seeds that fell on the flat roof of the parsonage in New Ulm. Enough dust and leaves accumulated to hold water and give bird seed a start. However, as soon as the sunflower began to grow, it could not gather enough soil and moisture to survive and withered away. But the rocky (roofy) background actually promoted germination with the heat provided. And then the same rockiness killed the plants.

These illustrations are all around us. Jesus explained

13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

A temptation does not mean simply slow horses and fast women, but also persecution, riches, indifference, anything that takes our heart away from the Gospel.

The false teachers have dumbed down the Word of God so that people have no defense against the dogmas of demons being foisted upon them. Notice that they worked their way into the top by criticizing hymnals, hymns, traditional worship, and the old fuddy-duddies who were leaders. But now that they are in power, no one is allowed to even suggest something contrary to their agenda. If anyone persists, he is kicked out. 

This part is especially ironic. The synod will tolerate 

  • a congregation running riot with false doctrine, 
  • a District President abusing members of his own congregation,
  • an alcoholic, because so many synod leaders are addicted,
  • another parish disintegrating from a leader's abuse,
  • an adulterous or sodomite pastor, 
  • an embezzler of the worst sort, 
  • even a man who abandoned his wife and children for his mistress. 

But if the congregation keeps a pastor - kicked out of the synod for the sake of the Word - the synod will expel the congregation faster than Flash on energy drinks. And the synod will rejoice in their evil and boast about it. The friends of the pastor and congregation will disappear faster than a July frost. For additional details, see the Jon Buchholz resume.

But this disruptions and contradictions are also good in that they can awaken the living Word and encourage people to study the Scriptures and Confessions. We all have a basic knowledge that covers the main topics. However, we have no idea how valuable this parable is until the parable is taught against. We see the Book of Concord as a nice old book until we ask "What did they teach about Justification by Faith, Holy Communion, and the Sacraments?"

I grew up with the KJV and learned more and more about the value of precise translations when bad ones were sold to the public by false teachers. Isn't it fun that WELS used a Babtist professor to sell the NIV to their unthinking disciples? Why didn't someone say, "Why is Moo the Babtist teaching Lutherans about the Scriptures?"

This part of the parable is also a warning to those who would harm the "little ones," not just the children, but those with beginning faith. When ministers work so hard to create scandals based on their conduct or fascination with false doctrine, they are guilty murdering the souls of those with shallow roots. And yet these destroyers rejoice in their ability to get away with their destructive behavior.

7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 

14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 

Those of us who garden have had plenty of experiences with this. Sometimes the roots are choked so that the plant grows without fruiting at all. Weeds are opportunistic, so they are happy to germinate and grow where a rose is planted and watered. Bermuda Grass is ideal for poor soil but really likes to dominate where roses are grown. Berry plants like to grow straight up into the sun or climb along vines. If they are shaded, the plants grow but seldom bring "their fruit to perfection."

Thus many are so absorbed in work, earning money, and hedonism that these concerns choke the Word. Nothing is lacking in the Word, but people allow these matters to diminish the importance of the Word, which we can see in so many church activities that focus on gaining approval rather than spiritual wisdom.

The congregation that thrives on clubs and attraction gimmicks will leave nothing behind, which has been shown in this generation - time after time.

8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? 



15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

Jesus' explanation means - There will be those who hear the Word and guard it. They value the Gospel for itself and identify God's will with God's Word, as I have taught.

This part of the sermon should be given pages and pages on what the congregation will do in broadcasting the Word, but that is seldom the case. As I told one reader, once I reached Luther's age, 63, when he died, I began to count every year as bonus time to do more in teaching the Word of God.

  1. Facebook, Blogger, and other social media are used to spread the Word more effectively.
  2. Printed and e-books are distributed free.
  3. Luther's sermons are published each week and soon will be printed as well.
  4. We have Internet Means of Grace services, Bible and Book of Concord classes, and Greek New Testament classes.
  5. In Springdale I give away books and roses, since the roses confirm the books about Creation.
  6. While others are celebrating their opposition to marriage, I blog and post to emphasize traditional, Christian marriage.
Most of this broadcasting is done at no extra cost. There is labor involved, but like the rose garden, the benefits far outweigh the work involved - and the work is so fulfillinjg.


Luther's Sexagesima Sermon on False Teacher's and Paul's Thorn in the Flesh


SECOND SUNDAY BEFORE LENT

TEXT:

2 CORINTHIANS 11:19-33; 2 CORINTHIANS 12:1-9. 19 For ye bear with the foolish gladly, being wise yourselves. For ye bear with a man, if he bringeth you into bondage, if he devoureth you, if he taketh you captive, if he exalteth himself, if he smiteth you on the face. 21 I speak by way of disparagement, as though we had been weak. Yet whereinsoever any is bold (I speak in foolishness), I am bold also. 22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself) I more; in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; 26 in journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from my countrymen, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Besides those things that are without, there is that which presseth upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is caused to stumble, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed for evermore knoweth that I lie not. 32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king guarded the city of the Damascenes in order to take me: 33 and through a window was I let down in a basket by the wall, and escaped his hands. 1 I must needs glory, though it is not expedient; but I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not; or whether out of the body, I know not; God knoweth), such a one caught up even to the third heaven. 3 And I know such a man (whether in the body, or apart from the body, I know not; God knoweth), 4 how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 On behalf of such a one will I glory: but on mine own behalf I will not glory, save in my weakness. 6 For if I should desire to glory, I shall not be foolish; for I shall speak the truth: but I forbear, lest any man should account of me above that which he seeth me to be, or heareth from me. 7 And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, That I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch. 8 Concerning, this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

PAUL’S GLORY IN HIS LABOR AND SUFFERING.

1. They who praise themselves are fools according to the views and speech of the world. The saying is, “Self-praise is unsavory.” It is forbidden by Solomon in Proverbs 27:2: “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth.” And Christ says ( John 8:54), “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing.” Paul acknowledges that he had to become a fool, something for which he had no desire, by reason of the necessity laid upon him to praise himself. The false apostles, as false spirits habitually do, delivered great, fine, splendid speeches to the multitude, in their vainglorious attempt to raise themselves above Paul, thereby to make contemptible and insignificant that apostle and his doctrine.

2. Paul was little concerned that he personally should be lightly esteemed and the false apostles highly honored, but he could not bear to have the Gospel perish in that way and his Corinthian converts seduced. Therefore he exerts himself to the utmost, at the risk of becoming a fool by his boasting. But he, in his strong spiritual wisdom, glories in a masterly manner, and skilfully puts to shame the boasts of the false apostles.

First, he shows them he can glory in the very things wherein they glory, and in even more. At the same time he declares himself a fool for glorying.

He might have said: “Foolish, indeed, are they, and boorish creatures, who glory in themselves. They should feel shame to the very depth of their heart. No true, sane man boasts of what he is. The wicked and the frivolous do that.” But the apostle’s attack is not quite so severe and harsh.

He addresses them civilly and delicately in that he makes himself appear a fool, as if to say: “Look! how becoming self-praise is in myself, although I have grounds for my glorying. But how much more disgraceful for you to boast when perhaps none of your claims are true.” So Paul wears the foolscap, that those coarse fools might have a mirror in which to behold their real selves. This is wisely making foolishness minister to the good of the neighbor and to the honor of the Gospel. To the just, even folly is wisdom, just as all things are pure and holy unto him.

 $140,000 a year for being on the Thrivent board
and working hoof and claw with ELCA.

 Jeske fulfills Paul's warnings.

Joint ministry with ELCA - organized by Jeske.


3. Second, Paul deals the false apostles a stout blow when he shows them to be ignorant of the grounds in which a true Christian seeks his glory. For, as he teaches them, a Christian glories in the things whereof other men are ashamed — in the cross and in his sufferings. This is the true art of glorying. To this he refers when he says ( Galatians 6:14), “Far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” But the false apostles are careful to avoid glorying thus; for they flee with alacrity from reproach and affliction, rather seeking a life of ease and honor. They ever would have prominence over their fellows, be superior to and unlike others — certain indication that they lack the right spirit and are not of God.

Christ testifies ( John 5:44), “How can ye believe, who receive glory one of another, and the glory that cometh from the only God ye seek not?”

4. The main point of this lesson is that in a preacher or a teacher no vice is more injurious and venomous than vainglory. It is true, however, that avarice also is an evil characteristic of false teachers, being found hand in hand with vainglory. For the sake of profit, for the purpose of gain, the false teachers aspire to prominence, to honor and position. With them, nothing but current coin will pass, and what does not pay dividend is unprofitable. Any other vice is more endurable in a preacher than these two, though none is compatible with goodness, blamelessness and perfection being required in the ministry according to Paul, Titus 1:7.

This is not surprising, for the two vices under consideration are essentially and directly opposed to the nature of the ministry. The ministry is ordained to have as its aim the glory of God and its promotion. Psalm 19:1 affirms, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” And ministers must, for God’s glory, suffer reproach and shame. Jeremiah complains ( Jeremiah 20:8), “The word of Jehovah is made a reproach unto me, and a derision, all the day.” The world will not endure the Word. For him who in preaching seeks his own honor, it is impossible to remain in the right path and preach the pure Gospel. Consequently he avoids striving for God’s honor; he must preach what pleases the people, what brings honor to himself and magnifies his skill and wisdom.

5. Avarice, too, is, according to its very nature, opposed to the interests of the ministry. Just as the ministry is to be devoted to God’s honor at the expense of our own, so is it to be devoted to the interests of our neighbor and not to our own. Otherwise it is an injury rather than a benefit. With the false teacher seeking only his own good, it is impossible for him to preach the truth. He is compelled to speak what is pleasing to men in order to gratify his appetites. Therefore Paul ( Romans 16:18) says of such preachers that they serve their own bellies. And in many places the Scriptures reprove avarice. Let him, then, who would be a preacher guard vigilantly against vainglory and avarice. But, should he feel himself in the clutch of these sins, let him avoid the ministry. For under such conditions he will accomplish no good; he will only dishonor God, seduce souls and be a thief and robber in the acquisition of property. With this explanation, the lesson is now easily understood, but we will consider a few points.” “For ye bear with the foolish gladly, being wise yourselves.”

6. Paul commends the Corinthians for their patience and wisdom in six points: as wise men, they cheerfully endure the foolish; they bear with those who bring them into bondage and oppress them; with those who devour them; with those who take from them [or take them captive]; with those who exalt themselves; with those who smite them in the face. But his commendation is meant to pave the way for his folly — to prepare them to suffer him the more readily. He would say, “Since you suffer so much from them who injure you — and you are wise in that — I trust you will bear with me who have wrought you only good, when I act the fool for a little; particularly when my object in it is your good — to preserve the Gospel among you in opposition to the false apostles.” Note how tenderly and patiently he deals with the Corinthians when he might have severely reproved them for tolerating the false apostles. He commends them as does a father a timid child, and yet, while commending them he censures both them and their false teachers. He handles them as tenderly as if he held a raw egg in his hand, in order not to distract or terrify them.

7. Paul delivers a masterly stroke when with the same words he praises the Corinthians and rebukes them and their false apostles. His commendation of their patience is in reality reproof, blows and wounds for the false teachers. He would say: “I have preached the Gospel to you at my own expense and jeopardy. By my labor have ye attained to its blessing. Ye have done nothing for me in return, and I have been no tax upon you. Now, upon my departure, others come and exploit you, and seek honor and profit from my labor. They would be your masters and I am to be ignored. They boast as if the accomplishment were all theirs. Of these ye must be disciples and pupils.

Their preaching ye must accept, while my Gospel must become odious. My case is that of the bee who labors to make honey and then the idle drones and the earthworms come and consume the sweet not of their making. In me is illustrated Christ’s proverb ( John 4:37), ‘one soweth, and another reapeth.’ Continually one enters into the fruits of another’s labor. One must toil and incur danger, while another reaps the benefit in security.

8. “Ye can suffer these false apostles, though they be fools and teach only foolishness. In this ye display wisdom and patience. But ye do not so suffer me, who taught you true wisdom. Nor do ye permit me much enjoyment of my labor. Further, ye can permit them to make servants of you, to be your lords and to order you to do their bidding. And ye obey. But I who have made myself your servant, I who have served you without profit to myself, that ye might be lords with Christ, must now be ignored and all my labors be lost. They rule you at their pleasure, and their pleasure is all they consult. You suffer yourselves to be devoured. That is, your property is consumed; for ye bestow it upon them abundantly, as Psalm 14:4 has it, ‘Who eat up my people.’ Upon such as these ye can shower goods and gifts, and can permit them to devour you as they please. But I have never enjoyed aught of your property. All my service has been without recompense, that ye might become rich in Christ. “Again, ye suffer the false teachers to take from you beyond your consent; to exalt themselves above you, to esteem themselves better than you and me, and to exercise their arrogance upon you.

But ye deal not so with me, who have sacrificed my own substance, and have taken from others, that I might bring the Gospel to you; who have not exalted myself above any, but have yielded to all and served them. The false apostles permit you to serve them; in fact, trample you beneath their feet. They even smite you in the face; that is, they reproach you publicly, put you to shame, and abuse you with rude and insolent words. They act as if ye were beasts of burden and they your real masters. All this ye suffer. But my patience with you, my parental tenderness, past and present, is remembered no more. Paul is now represented as having wrought no good at Corinth.”

PAUL’S DESCRIPTION OF FALSE TEACHERS.



9. Note the master hand wherewith Paul portrays the character of false teachers, showing how they betray their avarice and ambition. First, they permit true teachers to lay the foundation and perform the labor; then they come and desire to do the work over, to reap the honors and the benefits.

They bring about that the name and the work of the true teachers receive no regard and credit; what they themselves have brought — that is the thing. They make the poor, simple-minded people to stare open-mouthed while they win them with flowery words and seduce them with fair speeches, as mentioned in Romans 16:18. These are the idle drones that consume the honey they will not and cannot make. That this was the condition of affairs at Corinth is very clear from this epistle — indeed, from both epistles. Paul continually refers to others having followed him and built upon the foundation he has laid. Messengers of the devil, he terms them.



10. And such false teachers have the good fortune that all their folly is tolerated, even though the people realize how these act the fool, and rather rudely at that. They have success with it all, and people bear with them.

But no patience is to be exercised toward true teachers! Their words and their works are watched with the intent of entrapping them, as complained of in Psalm 17:9 and elsewhere. When only apparently a mote is found, it is exaggerated to a very great beam. No toleration is granted. There is only judgment, condemnation and scorn. Hence the office of preaching is a grievous one. He who has not for his sole motive the benefit of his neighbor and the glory of God, cannot continue therein. The true teacher must labor, and permit others to have the honor and profit of his efforts, while he receives injury and derision for his reward. Here the saying holds true: “To love without guerdon, nor wearying of the burden.” Only the Spirit of God can inspire such love. To flesh and blood it is impossible.

Paul here scores the false prophets when he says, “Ye suffer fools gladly”; in other words, “I know the false preachers often act as fools, nor can they help it, because their teaching is false; yet ye excuse them.”



11. In the second place such teachers are disposed to bring the people into downright bondage and to bind their conscience by forcing laws upon them and teaching work-righteousness. The effect is that fear impels them to do what has been pounded into them, as if they were bond-slaves, while their teachers command fear and attention. But the true teachers, they who give us freedom of conscience and create us lords, we soon forget, even despise. The dominion of false teachers is willingly tolerated and patiently endured; indeed, it is given high repute. All those conditions are punishments sent by God upon them who do not receive the Gospel with love and gratitude. Christ says ( John 5:43): “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye shall receive.” The Pope, with his spiritual office, became our lord, and we became his captives, through his doctrine of human works. And our present-day schismatics pursue the same object with their fanciful doctrine concerning their works.

12. In the third place, false teachers flay their disciples to the bone, and cut them out of house and home, but even this is taken and endured. Such, I opine, has been our experience under the Papacy. But true preachers are even denied their bread. Yet this all perfectly squares with justice! For, since men fail to give unto those from whom they receive the Word of God, and permit the latter to serve them at their own expense, it is but fair they should give the more unto preachers of lies, whose instruction redounds to their injury. What is withheld from Christ must be given in tenfold proportion to the devil. They who refuse to give the servant of the truth a single thread, must be oppressed by liars.



13. Fourth, false apostles forcibly take more than is given them. They seize whatever and whenever they can, thus enhancing their insatiable avarice.

This, too, is excused in them. Thus, the great establishments of the Pope did not suffice for him; with various artifices, bulls, laws and indulgences, he has brought under his power land and people and all they possess, exhausting the world by usury. And so it should be, for this state of affairs was richly deserved by men for despising the Gospel and its preachers.

14. Fifth, these deceitful teachers, not satisfied with having acquired our property, must exalt themselves above us and lord it over us. Not only do they possess all property, but they must for that very reason become our superiors; must have precedence and receive honor. We bow our knees before them, worship them and kiss their feet. And we suffer it all, yes, with fearful reverence regard it just and right. And it is just and right, for why did we not honor the Gospel by accepting and preserving it?



15. Sixth, our false apostles justly reward us by smiting us in the face. That is, they consider us inferior to dogs; they abuse us, and treat us as footrags.

I venture to say we became sensible of such treatment when, under the Papacy, we were readily put in the van, cursed, condemned and delivered to the devil. We endured it all, suffered most patiently, and yielded up property, honor, body and soul. Fault in a sincere teacher, however, could by no means be tolerated. Very well, then; God is just, and it is his judgment that we must honor the messengers of Satan a thousand times more than his own, and do and suffer everything. “I speak by way of disparagement [speak as concerning reproach], as thought we had been weak.”



16. There are two ways of interpreting this sentence: First, as meaning: “I speak as one of the weak whose folly you must endure; for which I deserve reproach, since I ought to bear with you.” From such meaning I to this day have seen no cause to swerve. The other interpretation is: “I speak as one reproached — after the manner of the weak.” Or, more fully expressed: “I can speak in two ways of myself and my class: First, with honor, because of our strength in the sight of God and the spiritually-minded, worthy of honor, noble; not weak but strong, able. But I will not at present employ, this way, for we are now despised; we are not known as honorable. And all because of the false prophets. I will, then, present myself in the other light, as I am regarded — despised, held in reproach and disrespect, weak and incapable. But even this condition shall be an occasion of glory for me; my reproach and weakness is more honorable than their honor, power and strength. What would my glory be should my actual strength inspire my speech! “Weakness,” according to Paul’s own later interpretation, implies being regarded worthless, unfit, a failure. The apostle’s meaning, then, is: “I, too, will be one of the boasting fools. You will excuse it in me for I speak from the standpoint of my critics, that of a man contemptible, foolish, incompetent. Before God, however, I feel that I am a quite different being.”

17. And recollect, Paul says, “Because ye are wise, ye suffer fools gladly,” implying that one fool cannot tolerate another. The saying is, “Two fools in one house will not do.” Reason and wisdom are required, to bear with another’s infirmities and to excuse them. “Yet whereinsoever any is bold.”

18. That is, in whatever the false apostles can boast, I can likewise glory.

Here we are shown what is the ground of the false apostles’ boasting: their outward respectability — being of Abraham’s seed, children of Israel, Christ’s preachers. Therein they think to far excel the Corinthians, claiming their doctrine and works to be of greater weight because they have Moses and the prophets for their teachers. But they failed to perceive that their boast is of mere externals, that render no one righteous or better before God. The majority of the Hebrews, of the Israelites, of the seed of Abraham, and of the preachers of Christ are lost. Names are of no consequence; they only make a fine show and serve to seduce the simpleminded.

Paul boasts of his origin and yet derides his boasting, calling it fool’s work. His object is to destroy the boasting of the false prophets, that the people might not be deceived.

19. Note how, even in Paul’s time, great men erred concerning the true sense of the Gospel, and many noble preachers would have estimated Christian life by a merely external appearance and name. The true spiritual preachers must have been few. Should it be strange, then, that in our time sincere preachers are not numerous, and that the majority of ministers riot in what they themselves seem and do? It cannot and shall not be otherwise.

The thievish drones, which are prone to riot, let them riot! We will resist to the utmost of our power, commending the matter to God, who doubtless will grant us sufficient honor and profit, both temporally and eternally, though we must labor gratuitously, accepting injury and derision as our reward. Our adversaries will not long continue their persecutions, for, as Paul says just preceding our lesson, they will eventually receive their deserts.

20. Again, Paul boasts of certain temporal afflictions wherein he excels the false apostles, who suffer nothing, for the sake of either the word or of souls, but only boast of name and person. Among the afflictions he mentions, he names having been a night and a day in the deep. Some refer this allusion to the voyage of which Luke writes ( Acts 27:20-21), when for fourteen days Paul and his companions ate nothing and saw never a star, being day and night continually covered by the surges and waves of the sea. Others think Paul was, like Jonah, personally sunk into the deep sea, though but for a day and a night. Such is the clear meaning of the text.

Yet others interpret it as having reference to a prison or dungeon, because the Greek text makes no mention of the sea — simply “the deep.” “Who is weak, and I am not weak?”

21. Of external afflictions affecting not his own person, but distressing others, Paul mentions two: he is weak if another is weak, and burns if another is offended. Thereby he plainly portrays the ardor of his heart — how full of love he is; the defects and sorrows of others pain him as his own. By “weakness,” I imagine, he means, not bodily infirmity, but weakness of faith. He refers to those who, young in the faith, have a tender and frail conscience, thereby betokening immaturity and feebleness of faith.

He says ( Romans 14:2), “He that is weak eateth herbs”; and in Corinthians 8:12, that we sin against Christ if we wound a weak conscience. These weak ones Paul does not reject. He receives them and conducts himself as if he, too, were weak. He asserts ( 1 Corinthians 9:22), “To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak.”

22. This interpretation of the sentence is borne out in his allusion to “that which presseth upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches.” Paul would say: “I exert myself, I have a continual care, I urge and admonish constantly, that offenses and false doctrine may not invade and destroy my planting; may not violate and ruin the weak consciences. As seen in his epistle to the Corinthians, directed against the false apostles, and in that to the Thessalonians, such is his vigilant anxiety to guard them from the tempter that he sends them a special messenger, and he exultingly declares it is life to him to learn of their steadfastness.

23. Likewise, by the assertion that he burns, we are to understand that he is exceedingly grieved and pained if one is offended; that is, if through misleading doctrines or examples one in any wise falls from the faith. Of the offense to faith, he says much in Romans 14. Not desiring to be offended with the offended, as he became weak with the weak, he says: “I burn and sorrow for them.” “I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago.”

24. Of the translation of Paul into the third heaven many have written, perplexing themselves over what constituted the first, second and third heavens, and the paradise. Paul himself, who had the experience, does not tell, and declares no man can tell, for none may utter the words he heard.

Therefore, we must humbly acknowledge we do not know the nature of these things. And it matters not. Paul does not boast of his experience for the purpose of imparting knowledge to us or of enabling us to duplicate it.

The purpose of his boasting is simply to stop the mouths of the fanatics and to show how paltry was their glory in comparison with his own. Certain it is, however, that Paul was ravished from this life into a life ineffable; otherwise his expression would be meaningless.

PAUL’S THORN IN THE FLESH AND HUMILITY.

“There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan.”

25. And must this mighty apostle, O merciful God, be subject to trials lest he exalt himself because of his great revelations? Then how should others, how should such infirm beings as we, be free from self-exaltation? Many teachers have explained Paul’s thorn to be the temptations of the flesh. The Latin text is responsible for this interpretation; it reads, “stimulus carnis,” a spear, or thorn for the flesh. Yet that rendering does not do justice to the words. Paul is not in the habit of terming temptations of the flesh “thorns.”

The thorn stands rather for something painful and afflicting. In “a thorn of the flesh” the thought is not of an instrumentality whereby the flesh stings, but of something that stings the flesh. The Greek text impels us to the thought of a thorn for the flesh, or a thorn upon or in the flesh. The idea is much like that in the German proverb, “The clog is bound to the dog’s neck.” We may imagine Paul expressing himself: “As a clog to a dog’s neck, as a ring in a bear’s nose, a bit in a horse’s mouth or a gag in the mouth of a swine, in order to restrain them from running, biting and general mischief, — so is my thorn a clog to my body lest I exalt myself.”

26. But Paul himself explains the nature of the clog, or thorn. He calls it “a messenger of Satan,” a devil, to “buffet” him, or to flay and jog him. Hence a spiritual trial cannot be meant. The explanation appeals to me that the persecutions and sufferings the apostle recounts above constitute the devil’s flaying. Thus his meaning would be: “I have received great revelations, for which reason the clog is bound to the dog; that is, the many dangers and misfortunes with which the angel of the devil buffets and humiliates my body will make me forget to exalt myself. They are the thorn in my flesh, or upon my body; for God will not permit it to come upon my soul.”

27. Yet the text seems to imply some peculiar work of the devil upon Paul’s body, for it says the thorn, or clog, is the messenger Satan employs to beat his body; and also that the apostle diligently but unavailingly thrice besought the Lord to remove it. I do not imagine him praying for the cessation of persecutions in a spirit of unwillingness to suffer them. But since he does not specify the affiction, we must let it remain a secret one, a distress known only to himself. It is enough for us to know that while God had given him great revelations, revelations beyond human ken, he also bound the clog to him — gave him a thorn for his body — to prevent his exaltation of himself; and that the knowledge of the buffetings and flaying caused by this clog, or devil, are likewise beyond human ken. “My power is made perfect in weakness.”



28. It is a strange sort of strength which is weak and by its weakness grows stronger. Who ever heard of weak strength? or more absurd still, that strength is increased by weakness? Paul would here make a distinction between human strength and divine. Human strength increases with enhancement and decreases with enfeeblement. But God’s power — his Word in us — rises in proportion to the pressure it receives. It is characteristic of God the Creator that he creates all things from naught, and again reduces to naught all created things. Human power cannot do this. The power of God is the true palm-wood which buoys itself in proportion as it is burdened and weighted.

29. Note here, “weakness” is not to be understood in a spiritual sense, as on a previous occasion, but externally; as not illness alone, but every sort of evil, misfortune, suffering and persecution calculated to buffet and humble the body. The power of Christ, in connection with which spiritual weakness cannot exist, is invoked against this weakness likewise. He says, “Most gladly will I glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” And his weaknesses he immediately explains as infirmities, injuries, necessities, persecutions and distresses. The thought, then, is:

Christ is not mighty within us, his word and his faith are not strong in us, unless our bodies suffer affliction. The false apostles, however, take excellent care to escape suffering.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

When a Reader Reviews Three Books in a Row, An Angel Is Promoted to Seraph, Three Sets of Wings



"Isaiah, Mighty Seer, in Days of Old"
by Martin Luther, 1483-1546
1. Isaiah, mighty seer, in days of old
The Lord of all in Spirit did behold
High on a lofty throne, in splendor bright,
With flowing train that filled the Temple quite.
Above the throne were stately seraphim,
Six wings had they, these messengers of Him.
With twain they veiled their faces, as was meet,
With twain in reverent awe they hid their feet,
And with the other twain aloft they soared,
One to the other called and praised the Lord:
"Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth!
Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth!
Holy is God, the Lord of Sabaoth!
Behold, His glory filleth all the earth!"
The beams and lintels trembled at the cry,
And clouds of smoke enwrapped the throne on high.

Hymn 249
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Is. 6: 1-4
Author: Martin Luther, 1526
Translated by: composite
Titled: "Jessia, dem Propheten, das gescha"
Tune: "Jessia, dem Propheten"
Composer: Martin Luther, 1526

 If you click on this link, a cherub will get his wings.

Third of Three Reviews - Liberalism: Its Cause and Cure.
WELS Church Growthers Hated It, But Northwestern Publishing House Printed It - Three Printings

 Liberalism: Its Cause and Cure.WELS Church Growthers
hated their own NPH book.
They organized an effort to get rid of me, using their stooges.


on February 17, 2017
Format: Paperback

Introduction to the Christian Faith - Jesus Priceless Treasure

 Jesus Priceless Treasure


on February 17, 2017
Format: Paperback

An Angel Was Promoted to Seraph with Three Reviews from One Reader

 My Lutheran Hymnal is especially convenient in the Kindle edition.


on February 17, 2017
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

Recipe for the Jackson EZ Bird Swing: Six-Foot Wide Model

 Queen's Lace Crepe Myrtle is growing near the new bird feeder and swing.

The kitchen window needed some cleaning, so I took out the screen and vacuum cleaner and started. Using a special cleaner I had the glass almost invisible, so I decided install a second Jackon EZ Bird Swing. The recipe is easy for most homes.


  1. Drill three holes. These make screw hooks very easy to install. Our house has three eave supports for the window. The central one is for the hanging bird feeder - closer to the window for more shelter from rain. The supports on each side are for hanging the chains.
  2. Insert the screw-hooks into the three holes. 
  3. At Lowe's I ordered two 30 inch chains from the incredulous clerk. "They are for the bird swing," I added, helpfully.
  4. I also bought their $7 hanging bird feeder.
  5. The last item, near the chains, was a six foot long rod. Naturally, the rod needs to rest inside the chain links - and it did. Tested - at the store.
The rest was easy. After putting the screw-hooks in place, I hung the chain on each side, the sunflower seed feeder in the middle.

The rod went across and rested between the chains. The extra length made the set-up stable without any electrician's tape.

Expecting no activity for a time, I checked out the arrangement from inside the house. A small bird was already on the swing.

Later a Crepe Myrtle (already planted) will grow up and serve as the reception room for the feeder. Birds love to rest nearby until they can take their turns. The swing makes it easier to see the birds at rest.

I started a discounted a White Profusion Butterfly Bush but it is so small that I figured it might be a few years to get some height out of that project. I can transplant the Butterfly Bush to a new location.