In the Name – Dr Scott Murray – Memorial Moments

July 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Psalm 8

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (ESV)

In the Name

Friday of Pentecost 5

18 July 2014

Some years ago, a missionary working in villages of Africa where Islam was making some incursions happened upon a community of people who were anxious to hear his proclamation of Christ. He preached and taught the people for some time. Since they received his preaching with joy, he suggested that they should be baptized into the triune name. Upon his mention of baptism, their joyous reception of his preaching came to a screeching halt. He asked them why they were reluctant to receive baptism into the Christ he had taught them. They patiently explained to him that they would have none of this baptism business until he fully explained what they were being baptized into. They told him that Muslim missionaries had been among them some years before and that they too offered a ritual washing to initiate them into Islam, to which they assented. But after being washed, only then did the Muslim missionaries reveal the full meaning of the religion into which they had been initiated. No, these people took baptism seriously and they understood that being baptized set them into the full religious universe of that into which they were baptized. They weren’t going to be tricked by a religious “bait and switch” again. Of course, the Christian missionary rejoiced to hear this and catechized these people into the full faith of our confession. The people were duly baptized into the triune name after being instructed and confessing the faith that they had been taught.

Baptism as a rite of religious cleansing is not new with Christianity. We know that the Jewish monastic community called Essenes performed multiple ritual cleansings, perhaps daily bathing as a sign of cleansing from sin. Jewish missionaries used a baptism to initiate whole families into the Jewish community when Gentiles were converted. This we call “Jewish proselyte baptism.” This baptism was the background of the command of Jesus to His disciples to “go and baptize” (Mt 28:19). Heretical Christian communities retained baptism, although they mean something quite different from the church when they name God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Even those religious communities that have specifically and intentionally rejected the holy Trinity still often “baptize” in some three-fold formula: “in the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, etc.;” including even some Unitarians.

Unfortunately, old line Protestant churches in America are increasingly not only adopting baptismal formulas only heretics could endorse, but worse yet are teaching a doctrine of God that simply contradicts God’s self-revelation in Christ. It is quite jarring to hear a so-called Lutheran address prayer to “our mother,” and know full well that this prayer is not addressed to the mother of God, Mary, but to the deity who seems to be having “gender issues.” Does the baptismal formula then become “in the name of the father/mother, son/daughter, and spirit, and um, what have you”? Could we start calling God “LeBron”? Oh, wait, some people already are! If names don’t matter, then what’s the difference? We are so desperate to affirm every mania that we forget about God’s self-revelation in His eternal Son, Christ our Lord.

What would a trinitarian baptism mean in a church where the holy Trinity is not taught according to the divine self-revelation, but is rejected outright? If God could be addressed as “our mother,” as validly as our Father what does it mean if there is a baptism “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” within such a context? Is that baptism valid? Do the words Father and Son morph into something else when used this way? God has graciously made Himself known by offering into our hands His name. In our wickedness and unbelief we have begun to call Him names that He has not given to us. God has graciously set His name into our hands in the rite of baptism. In the giving of His name He gives Himself and all His blessings. What right do we have to change it? If we do, will we lose Him and His blessings?

Athanasius of Alexandria

“If the consecration of baptism is given to us into the name of the Father and the Son, and the Arians do not confess a true Father, because they deny what is from Him and like His essence, and deny also the true Son, and name another of their own framing as created out of nothing like any other creature, is not the rite administered by them altogether empty and unprofitable, making a show, and in reality being no help towards religion? For the Arians do not baptize into Father and Son, but into Creator and creature, and into Maker and work. And as a creature is other than the Son, so the baptism, which is supposed to be given by them, is other than the truth, though they pretend to name the name of the Father and the Son, because of the words of Scripture. For not he who simply says, ‘O Lord,’ gives Baptism; but he who with the name also has the right faith. On this account therefore our Savior also did not simply command to baptize, but says, ‘Teach;’ then thus: ‘Baptize into the name of Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit’ (Mt 28:19-20); that the right faith might follow upon learning, and together with faith might come the consecration of baptism.

“There are many other heresies too, which use the words only, but not in a right sense, as I have said, nor with sound faith (2Ti 4:3; Tit 1:9), and in consequence the water which they administer is unprofitable, as deficient in piety, so that he who is sprinkled by them is polluted by irreligion rather than redeemed. So Gentiles also, though the name of God is on their lips, incur the charge of atheism, because they know not the real and true God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Athanasius of Alexandria, Four Discourses Against the Arians, 2.42-43

The Glory of His Name – Dr Scott Murray – Memorial Moments

July 14, 2014 Leave a comment

Psalm 20

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions! Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. O LORD, save the king! May he answer us when we call. (ESV)

The Glory of His Name

Monday of Pentecost 5

14 July 2014

We miss the lively sense of the power in the name of God, who is Christ our Lord. In Scripture, sometimes the term “the name of God” refers to the divine speech on the lips of the prophets and apostles, such as in 1 Timothy 6:1, in which Paul requires us to honor authorities “so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.” Yet, even here there is more than a hint that the name of God is none other than God Himself. To attack God’s teaching is to attack God. This is why the second commandment forbids us to misuse the name of the Lord our God. To misuse the name of God is to abuse God Himself because He is His name. The worst misuse of the divine name is when it is used to cover false teaching with the pious sounding, “God has said…”

The divine name par excellence is none other than the second person of the holy Trinity. Christ is the divine name that does the work of God in the world. The Psalmist says, “We trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Ps 20:7). To trust in the name is to trust in Christ Himself. The Psalmist also says, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving” (Ps 69:30). First, to praise the name, if it is not God, would be blasphemy. Second, the parallel of the Hebrew poetry makes Him equivalent to His name. The apostles baptized in the name (Acts 19:5), cast out demons in the name (Acts 16:18), preached in the name (Acts 9:28), suffered in the name (Act 5:41), called the Gentiles into the kingdom of God in the name (Acts 15:17), and were willing to be put to death for the name (Acts 21:13). Of this name the apostle Peter says, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). This name does what Christ Himself does, because He is His name.

This name is the eternal Word of the Father, who spoke light out of darkness (Gn 1:3). This is the same name who for a season bore all human woe by being born of the Virgin. He condescended to our desperate need. He had no need of our human nature, but He assumed it for our good. He does not arrive at His divinity by some labor or work, but is the living name of God who was humbled at His incarnation by taking the form of a servant. Because He is God of God, He could not be exalted any higher than to be God, so He chose to be humbled for us men and our salvation. Here is the true word of the Name in the world. He needs not to make a name for himself like our faux celebrities and too-clever politicians. He has the name that is above every name. No other could be named like it. He hides the glory of His name, so that the glory of His name might become ours through faith in Him.

Athanasius of Alexandria

“It will be well to cite the divine oracles that the unalterableness of the Son and His unchangeable nature, which is the Father’s, may be still more fully proved. The Apostle then, writing to the Philippians, says, ‘Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’ (Phil 2:5-11). Can anything be plainer and clearer than this? He was not from a lower state promoted. Rather, existing as God, He took the form of a servant, and in taking it, was not promoted but humbled Himself. Where then is there here any reward of virtue, or what advancement and promotion in humiliation? For if, being God, He became man, and descending from on high He is still said to be exalted, where is He exalted, being God? For it is plain that, since God is highest of all, His Word must necessarily be highest also. Where then could He be exalted higher, who is in the Father and like the Father in all things? Therefore He is beyond the need of any addition. For though the Word has descended in order to be exalted, and so it is written, yet what need was there that He should humble Himself, as if to seek that which He had already? And what grace did He receive who is the Giver of grace? Or how did He receive that Name for worship, who is always worshipped by His Name? Certainly, before He became man, the sacred writers invoke Him, ‘O God, save me, by your name’ (Ps 54:1); and again, ‘Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God’ (Ps 20:7). And while He was worshiped by the patriarchs, concerning the angels it is written, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him’ (Heb 1:6).”

Athanasius of Alexandria, Four Discourses Against the Arians, 1.40

Categories: Right Worship, Sermons

How to Write Better Sermons – Pr David Petersen – Gottesdienst Online

June 25, 2014 Leave a comment

Excerpts:

The Rational

Seminary education in North America has to assume a number of competencies based upon an earned Bachelor’s degree. One of those assumptions is that men entering the seminary are competent in composition. They almost never are. Thus they muddle their way through seminary, vicarage, and then their weekly duties without ever writing decent outlines or crafting thesis statements. To be sure, it is possible, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, to deliver wandering, nearly incoherent sermons that edify and nurture the flock. The Lord works through His ministers and His Word despite the weaknesses of His ministers. The Truth gets out.

Nonetheless, sermon writing is writing. It is not completely unique or distinct from other forms of writing, even if it is closest to speech writing. Preachers, then, can learn from other writers. They can improve their technique. Improving the writing process improves the sermons themselves. Better written sermons are more focused. They are more easily digested and followed by the hearers. There are, however, other benefits. Getting better at the process also makes the preacher more efficient and makes the task more pleasant, less of a chore for him. My suspicion is that our homiletics classes, for one reason or another, have focused more on how to do the exegetical work and how to deliver a sermon than they have on how to write.

The Process

Though the vocabulary varies among textbooks, the writing process, academically considered, is normally broken into four stages: prewriting, writing, revising, and proofing. The first thing to know is that these four stages are meant to describe a creative process. The process is not a list of steps to be mechanically followed. It is a fluid process.

A writer always starts with some sort of prewriting, but he might move very quickly at times into writing and revising; yet, at the same time, he will usually continue to gather ideas and to conduct research right up to the end. The point is that it is a process. All of it needs to be done. When writers try to take shortcuts they normally do more work, in a slower fashion, and produce a weaker product. Some preachers, no doubt, follow the process unaware. When the process is understood, however, and when it is utilized in a deliberate fashion, it will not only make the job easier and the sermons stronger, but it will also free the creative process.

Read the rest.

Categories: Sermons

Problems of Preaching – Pr Larry Peters

June 5, 2014 Leave a comment

Excerpts:

Added to this is the lack of organizational skills to our communication. When you speak on the phone or write on Facebook, you do not think about what you say. You speak. You hit the keys on the keyboard. The words flow but not in an organized way and without benefit of knowing where you hope to end. Like phone conversations, sermons today tend to be all over the place. The hearer may be accustomed to this splatter of words but familiarity does not necessarily lead to informed listening. In addition, our conversations have no directed purpose or goal and therefore sermons tend to mirror mediated communication forms, leaving the people without something clear and understandable to take home from the sermon. – See more at: http://pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/#sthash.yMB67RjL.dpuf

Categories: Sermons

The Neglect of Sin in Christian Worship – Dr Cornelius Plantinga – Issues Etc

May 4, 2014 Leave a comment

Dr. Cornelius Plantinga, Calvin Institute for Christian Worship, discusses the neglect of sin in Christian worship with Pr. Todd Wilken (mp3, 57:19, 23.1 MB, 2014-Apr-23)

Also, this clip of Dr. Plantinga is the winner of the Issues, Etc., Soundbite of the Week, May 2, 2014 (mp3, 0:59, 1.8 MB):

Categories: Sermons

Preaching what you do not believe? – Pr Larry Peters – Pastoral Meanderings

May 1, 2014 Leave a comment

It is not the first time I have encountered this.  Preachers who complain that they preach on Sunday what they cannot in their hearts believe and refuse to accept. . . preachers who make up their sermons because they cannot speak from the vantage point of faith.  One more time I read a post by a clergyman, no longer a preacher, relieved at not having to live the deception any longer.

It is not the first time I have encountered this.  Preachers who complain that they preach on Sunday what they cannot in their hearts believe and refuse to accept. . . preachers who make up their sermons because they cannot speak from the vantage point of faith.  One more time I read a post by a clergyman, no longer a preacher, relieved at not having to live the deception any longer. – See more at: http://pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/#sthash.K1fss0MM.dpuf
It is not the first time I have encountered this.  Preachers who complain that they preach on Sunday what they cannot in their hearts believe and refuse to accept. . . preachers who make up their sermons because they cannot speak from the vantage point of faith.  One more time I read a post by a clergyman, no longer a preacher, relieved at not having to live the deception any longer. – See more at: http://pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/#sthash.K1fss0MM.dpuf
It is not the first time I have encountered this.  Preachers who complain that they preach on Sunday what they cannot in their hearts believe and refuse to accept. . . preachers who make up their sermons because they cannot speak from the vantage point of faith.  One more time I read a post by a clergyman, no longer a preacher, relieved at not having to live the deception any longer. – See more at: http://pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/#sthash.K1fss0MM.dpuf

It is not the first time I have encountered this. Preachers who complain that they preach on Sunday what they cannot in their hearts believe and refuse to accept . . . preachers who make up their sermons because they cannot speak from the vantage point of faith. One more time I read a post by a clergyman, no longer a preacher, relieved at not having to live the deception any longer.

One person put it this way:  I remember when I was a preacher that there were days I felt a profound polarity between what I believed and what I was expected to say. The pressure to bend to expectations was more than I could sometimes bear. I know many preachers under this pressure.

This is something I do not understand nor do I have much patience with — those who stand in the pulpit may not be rock star preachers but I think it is fair to say that their hearers expect them to believe what they preach.  I am not saying that the preacher is not himself struggling with this belief.  Indeed, I preach to myself every Sunday and often times the texts expose the great weakness or temptation or doubt that I face personally.  But I do not preach my doubts or my weakness.  I preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I stand under the cross with the rest of the hearers for the Word that I speak is not mine but the Word of Christ spoken not only through me but also to me.  If the words are mine only, then there is little cause for the hearers to listen to me rather than any other point of view.  The words of the preacher have authority only because they are the Word of the Lord, in a different but no less profound way than the lessons which we read and end by saying “The Word of the Lord.”  I say this not to elevate the preacher but to elevate the Word preached.

I would expect folks in the pew to be shocked and disappointed upon finding out that what they heard on Sunday morning is different from what the preacher actually believes.  If anything we expect some measure of integrity from the clergy, namely that they will not deceive the hearer by preaching something they do not themselves believe.  I know that this is predominantly a problem when the preacher is more liberal than the people in the pews and feels compelled by job security to keep his doubts and skepticism to himself.  But it can also happen when the preacher’s confession changes in the opposite way.  I have known preachers who have struggled with knowing when it is time to give up the call because they have come to believe that the Lutheran Confessions are true and faithful but they are not in a Lutheran congregation.  They key here is to preach faithfully until that point when you cannot.  At that point you owe it to your hearers to be honest.

There have been situations in which the pastor could not in good conscience confess the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed.  In the same way, when your conviction is no longer consistent with your ordination and call, then it is time to call it quits (if not forever, at least for now, until you can return to the office with the integrity of your convictions in tact).  These are not small matters.  Two friends have left churches when they found out the pastors did not believe what the Scriptures said.  In one case the pastor believed the resurrection to be purely spiritual and that someday the bones of Jesus would be found in a cave in Palestine.  In another the pastor flat out denied the efficacy of baptism and insisted, contrary to the church’s catechism and confession, it was nothing but a mere symbol.  In both cases, the folks in the pew felt they could not stay there but the right move would have been for the pastors to remove themselves or be removed.  There is no cause for or reason to justify a polarity between what is preached and the faith confessed.

– See more at: http://pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/2014/05/preaching-what-you-do-not-believe.html

It is not the first time I have encountered this.  Preachers who complain that they preach on Sunday what they cannot in their hearts believe and refuse to accept. . . preachers who make up their sermons because they cannot speak from the vantage point of faith.  One more time I read a post by a clergyman, no longer a preacher, relieved at not having to live the deception any longer.One person put it this way:  I remember when I was a preacher that there were days I felt a profound polarity between what I believed and what I was expected to say. The pressure to bend to expectations was more than I could sometimes bear. I know many preachers under this pressure.This is something I do not understand nor do I have much patience with — those who stand in the pulpit may not be rock star preachers but I think it is fair to say that their hearers expect them to believe what they preach.  I am not saying that the preacher is not himself struggling with this belief.  Indeed, I preach to myself every Sunday and often times the texts expose the great weakness or temptation or doubt that I face personally.  But I do not preach my doubts or my weakness.  I preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I stand under the cross with the rest of the hearers for the Word that I speak is not mine but the Word of Christ spoken not only through me but also to me.  If the words are mine only, then there is little cause for the hearers to listen to me rather than any other point of view.  The words of the preacher have authority only because they are the Word of the Lord, in a different but no less profound way than the lessons which we read and end by saying “The Word of the Lord.”  I say this not to elevate the preacher but to elevate the Word preached.I would expect folks in the pew to be shocked and disappointed upon finding out that what they heard on Sunday morning is different from what the preacher actually believes.  If anything we expect some measure of integrity from the clergy, namely that they will not deceive the hearer by preaching something they do not themselves believe.  I know that this is predominantly a problem when the preacher is more liberal than the people in the pews and feels compelled by job security to keep his doubts and skepticism to himself.  But it can also happen when the preacher’s confession changes in the opposite way.  I have known preachers who have struggled with knowing when it is time to give up the call because they have come to believe that the Lutheran Confessions are true and faithful but they are not in a Lutheran congregation.  They key here is to preach faithfully until that point when you cannot.  At that point you owe it to your hearers to be honest.There have been situations in which the pastor could not in good conscience confess the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed.  In the same way, when your conviction is no longer consistent with your ordination and call, then it is time to call it quits (if not forever, at least for now, until you can return to the office with the integrity of your convictions in tact).  These are not small matters.  Two friends have left churches when they found out the pastors did not believe what the Scriptures said.  In one case the pastor believed the resurrection to be purely spiritual and that someday the bones of Jesus would be found in a cave in Palestine.  In another the pastor flat out denied the efficacy of baptism and insisted, contrary to the church’s catechism and confession, it was nothing but a mere symbol.  In both cases, the folks in the pew felt they could not stay there but the right move would have been for the pastors to remove themselves or be removed.  There is no cause for or reason to justify a polarity between what is preached and the faith confessed.   – See more at: http://pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/#sthash.K1fss0MM.dpuf

It is not the first time I have encountered this.  Preachers who complain that they preach on Sunday what they cannot in their hearts believe and refuse to accept. . . preachers who make up their sermons because they cannot speak from the vantage point of faith.  One more time I read a post by a clergyman, no longer a preacher, relieved at not having to live the deception any longer.One person put it this way:  I remember when I was a preacher that there were days I felt a profound polarity between what I believed and what I was expected to say. The pressure to bend to expectations was more than I could sometimes bear. I know many preachers under this pressure.This is something I do not understand nor do I have much patience with — those who stand in the pulpit may not be rock star preachers but I think it is fair to say that their hearers expect them to believe what they preach.  I am not saying that the preacher is not himself struggling with this belief.  Indeed, I preach to myself every Sunday and often times the texts expose the great weakness or temptation or doubt that I face personally.  But I do not preach my doubts or my weakness.  I preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I stand under the cross with the rest of the hearers for the Word that I speak is not mine but the Word of Christ spoken not only through me but also to me.  If the words are mine only, then there is little cause for the hearers to listen to me rather than any other point of view.  The words of the preacher have authority only because they are the Word of the Lord, in a different but no less profound way than the lessons which we read and end by saying “The Word of the Lord.”  I say this not to elevate the preacher but to elevate the Word preached.I would expect folks in the pew to be shocked and disappointed upon finding out that what they heard on Sunday morning is different from what the preacher actually believes.  If anything we expect some measure of integrity from the clergy, namely that they will not deceive the hearer by preaching something they do not themselves believe.  I know that this is predominantly a problem when the preacher is more liberal than the people in the pews and feels compelled by job security to keep his doubts and skepticism to himself.  But it can also happen when the preacher’s confession changes in the opposite way.  I have known preachers who have struggled with knowing when it is time to give up the call because they have come to believe that the Lutheran Confessions are true and faithful but they are not in a Lutheran congregation.  They key here is to preach faithfully until that point when you cannot.  At that point you owe it to your hearers to be honest.There have been situations in which the pastor could not in good conscience confess the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed.  In the same way, when your conviction is no longer consistent with your ordination and call, then it is time to call it quits (if not forever, at least for now, until you can return to the office with the integrity of your convictions in tact).  These are not small matters.  Two friends have left churches when they found out the pastors did not believe what the Scriptures said.  In one case the pastor believed the resurrection to be purely spiritual and that someday the bones of Jesus would be found in a cave in Palestine.  In another the pastor flat out denied the efficacy of baptism and insisted, contrary to the church’s catechism and confession, it was nothing but a mere symbol.  In both cases, the folks in the pew felt they could not stay there but the right move would have been for the pastors to remove themselves or be removed.  There is no cause for or reason to justify a polarity between what is preached and the faith confessed.   – See more at: http://pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/#sthash.K1fss0MM.dpuf

It is not the first time I have encountered this.  Preachers who complain that they preach on Sunday what they cannot in their hearts believe and refuse to accept. . . preachers who make up their sermons because they cannot speak from the vantage point of faith.  One more time I read a post by a clergyman, no longer a preacher, relieved at not having to live the deception any longer.One person put it this way:  I remember when I was a preacher that there were days I felt a profound polarity between what I believed and what I was expected to say. The pressure to bend to expectations was more than I could sometimes bear. I know many preachers under this pressure.This is something I do not understand nor do I have much patience with — those who stand in the pulpit may not be rock star preachers but I think it is fair to say that their hearers expect them to believe what they preach.  I am not saying that the preacher is not himself struggling with this belief.  Indeed, I preach to myself every Sunday and often times the texts expose the great weakness or temptation or doubt that I face personally.  But I do not preach my doubts or my weakness.  I preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I stand under the cross with the rest of the hearers for the Word that I speak is not mine but the Word of Christ spoken not only through me but also to me.  If the words are mine only, then there is little cause for the hearers to listen to me rather than any other point of view.  The words of the preacher have authority only because they are the Word of the Lord, in a different but no less profound way than the lessons which we read and end by saying “The Word of the Lord.”  I say this not to elevate the preacher but to elevate the Word preached.I would expect folks in the pew to be shocked and disappointed upon finding out that what they heard on Sunday morning is different from what the preacher actually believes.  If anything we expect some measure of integrity from the clergy, namely that they will not deceive the hearer by preaching something they do not themselves believe.  I know that this is predominantly a problem when the preacher is more liberal than the people in the pews and feels compelled by job security to keep his doubts and skepticism to himself.  But it can also happen when the preacher’s confession changes in the opposite way.  I have known preachers who have struggled with knowing when it is time to give up the call because they have come to believe that the Lutheran Confessions are true and faithful but they are not in a Lutheran congregation.  They key here is to preach faithfully until that point when you cannot.  At that point you owe it to your hearers to be honest.There have been situations in which the pastor could not in good conscience confess the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed.  In the same way, when your conviction is no longer consistent with your ordination and call, then it is time to call it quits (if not forever, at least for now, until you can return to the office with the integrity of your convictions in tact).  These are not small matters.  Two friends have left churches when they found out the pastors did not believe what the Scriptures said.  In one case the pastor believed the resurrection to be purely spiritual and that someday the bones of Jesus would be found in a cave in Palestine.  In another the pastor flat out denied the efficacy of baptism and insisted, contrary to the church’s catechism and confession, it was nothing but a mere symbol.  In both cases, the folks in the pew felt they could not stay there but the right move would have been for the pastors to remove themselves or be removed.  There is no cause for or reason to justify a polarity between what is preached and the faith confessed.   – See more at: http://pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/#sthash.K1fss0MM.dpuf
Categories: Sermons, Unbelief

Kyrie, Eleison! – Dr Scott Murray

April 30, 2014 Leave a comment

Excerpts:

Our enemy will never give up. If old-fashioned subversion to perversion will not suffice, our enemy will attempt to convert the church and these days he appears to be succeeding. The church is being sucked into the culture’s ever deepening depravity and into the swirling decline of the West. Our enemy is piping us into the open sewer of self-centeredness, so that I think I am free to do whatever is right in my own eyes (Deut 12:8). Now, however, the church is offering to cover up this deterioration by calling such wickedness good. In the ultimate Nietzschian transvaluation of values, the church has called, in a monstrous perversion of language, “loving” and “monogamous” what God has forbidden and called “shameless acts” (Rm 1:24-27). But there is no possibility of a love that runs counter to the love that God has established in the faithful and holy unity of husband and wife in marriage, the Bible’s monogamy. Our enemy has gotten us to commit suicide, as Malcolm Muggeridge warned the people of the West in the previous century. Simply stated, we are calling evil good and good evil.

The so-called church is turning the theology of the cross on its head. The church should be calling evil evil, so that God Himself can turn evil on its head in Christ, who takes evil into Himself and dies for it. But there can be no forgiveness through the blood of the crucified unless there are still sinful acts. Why should we seek forgiveness when we can theorize away our sin? Every human heart has the tendency to define down deviancy. Our wickedness would prefer to be called good, rather than precipitate that dreaded repentance. However, what good is the power to forgive, power given to the church, if the church’s children see no need for it? What if the earthly good and our knowledge of it become our own knowledge God; our entire knowledge of God? What if our own interpretation of the natural revelation begins to trump the divine self-revelation in Scripture? The very warning sounded by Karl Barth against Nazi-dominated Germany in the 1930s ought to be sounded again over against the imposition of the politically correct sexual lunacy in the first decade of the 21st century. The transcendent must not be reduced to immanence. The creation is not god. A decisive “no” to human self-indulgence is worth expressing in every generation. We must be wrong, so that God might be our only righteousness. Lord, do not treat us as our sins deserve, but according to Your mercy.

Martin Luther said that the theologian of the cross only sees God’s back, that is, the incarnation of God in Christ born of Mary. When we see by our own power, no matter how reasonable things seem, we are in jeopardy of not seeing. When we are telling God, rather than letting him tell us what His creation means, and us in it, then we are telling the potter how to shape the clay (Is 29:11-19). The worst possible transvaluation of values results; God becomes us and we become God. Woe unto us, for we are a poor, even perverse god. The report of the death of church bodies, upon which the tower of homosexuality fell, should lead us to deep repentance, for we are not better. Without repentance, we too will all perish. God takes the hole that that grief-filled repentance creates in our hearts and stakes the life of Christ the crucified within it. Only in that suffering of true repentance will the theology of the cross become real. There can be no accommodation of sin, only repentance. Kyrie, Eleison!

Isaiah 29:11-19

And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.” And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” Ah, you who hide deep from the LORD your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest? In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.(ESV)

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Categories: Catechesis, Right Worship