Words of Encouragement for April 7, 2010

Meditations in the Parables of Jesus

THE PATCH, WINE SKINS AND OLD WINE

Read Luke 5:36-39

“And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.”

This parable of the Lord Jesus makes use of three illustrations to point out the foolishness and error of the scribes and Pharisees who asked why Jesus’ disciples did not fast like those of John the Baptist. No one with any sense would cut up and ruin a new garment in order to patch an old one. Not only would the new garment be ruined; the patch would not match the old garment; and if the patch is of new, unshrunk cloth, it would make a worse tear in the old garment when it shrunk and pulled away. One also would not put new wine into old wine skins; for the pressure of the fermenting new wine would burst the dry and rigid old wine skins, causing the loss of both the wine and the skins.

Jesus’ point with these two illustrations is the incompatibility of the Pharisees’ dependence upon their own works of the Law for salvation and the Gospel of forgiveness and full salvation through faith alone in Christ and His redemptive work. The old garment of works righteousness, or salvation by the works of the Law, cannot be mended with pieces of the new garment of salvation by God’s grace alone for Jesus’ sake. Rather than trying to patch up the tears and sins in the life of one who hopes to be saved by his own works, he should take off and discard the filthy and spotted garment of the flesh and be clothed with the garment of forgiveness of sins and imputed righteousness in Jesus Christ. If one tries to pour the Gospel, which tells of and offers forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation by God’s grace alone for Christ’s sake, and which can be received only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, into the old skins of works righteousness, both will be lost; for the Gospel excludes salvation by human works. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Finally, Jesus illustrated man’s reluctance to believe the Gospel and trust in Christ alone for salvation. In the same way that one who has drunk old wine assumes that the old is better and does not desire the new, so also those who have imbibed the old religious belief that man must merit his own salvation by his works and life do not desire the new wine of salvation as a gracious gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Those who trust in their own works for salvation must be shown the inadequacy and bitter end of such drink before they will desire the sweet Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thy righteousness, O Christ, alone can cover me; no righteousness avails save that which is of Thee. To whom save Thee, who canst alone for sin atone, Lord, shall I flee? Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn #380, Verse 5)

Pastor Randy Moll

Devotions from Isaiah 53

“Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12

Because Jesus Christ suffered and died upon the cross, shedding His holy and precious blood for our sins and rising again in victory, He spoils the dominion of darkness and executes judgment upon this earth.

The Apostle Paul writes of Jesus’ victory in this way: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:14-15).

Jesus paid in full the just punishment for our sins and the sins of the whole world when He was numbered with the transgressors and nailed to the cross to suffer and die in our stead. He there poured out His soul unto death that He might redeem us and bring us back to God.

In the Garden of Eden, Satan used the commandment of God to bring sin and eternal damnation upon all mankind (Genesis 3). “The handwriting of ordinances…was against us,” for mankind through Adam broke God’s holy commandment. On the cross, Jesus Christ the righteous made atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole world and satisfied God’s just wrath against us (1 John 2:1, 2). Thus Satan’s work and power over us was defeated and cast off, and a door was opened unto us to receive pardon, forgiveness and everlasting life (cf. Hebrews 2:14-17).

As a result of Jesus’ work when He suffered and died upon the cross and then rose again from the dead to intercede for us before the Father with His shed blood, those who by God’s grace and mercy are brought to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus are delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the eternal kingdom of Jesus, the Son of His love (cf. Colossians 1:12-14). Thus, Christ Jesus spoils Satan’s kingdom and delivers those who place their trust in Him and His shed blood.

But those who spurn God’s gift of salvation and continue on in disobedience and rebellion shall be judged and condemned on the Last Day when the crucified and risen Christ returns to judge this world in righteousness and equity (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff.; Hebrews 2:3). Why? Because they have not believed on the name of Christ Jesus, God’s only begotten Son and their Savior (cf. John 3:18)!

O crucified and risen Savior, grant that I not continue on in my disobedience and rebellion but truly repent of my evil ways and trust in You and Your redeeming work for my salvation. Amen.

Pastor Randy Moll

Letters to My Children

[Editor's Note: The letter below is the first in a series of letters written to my children urging them to continue in the true faith. The letters may also prove helpful to others who wish to read and consider their message.]

My Dear Children,

The first and most important thing I can encourage you to do is to read your Bibles. I know that there are so many other things to keep you busy that finding time to read and study the Scriptures is difficult; but this is so essential to your well-being, both here in this world, and hereafter in eternity! In fact, if you do this one thing and continue in it, you will learn the rest of what I intend to say to you without my letters and instruction.

St. Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:14-17): “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

You see, the Bible tells us that, when we study its pages, we will learn of the salvation which is ours through faith in Christ Jesus. We also learn that the Scriptures are useful and beneficial to us—indeed necessary—to teach us, reprove us, correct us, and instruct us in righteous living. When we diligently read and study our Bibles, we will learn of our salvation in Christ Jesus and be thoroughly equipped to follow Christ and live for Him. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Now, the Bible is no ordinary book. While we are flooded every day with books and articles to read, coming from all sorts of different human authors and groups, the Bible is different. It is the Word of God to man! It is the revealed word and message of the Almighty God, the Creator of heaven, earth and all things; and it is written and recorded for you and for me.

Why do I say this? Because the Bible itself tells us that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16)! Peter also writes: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

The Bible is God’s Word because God moved men to write and guided and directed them in their choice of words. St. Paul wrote: “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13). And, so we see that all of the Bible, and each and every word of the Bible, is inspired by God, or God-breathed!

David, the human author of many of the psalms, also spoke of this when he said: “Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:1,2).

Since the Bible is not man’s writing but God’s Word, it is not surprising that the Bible, which is made up of 66 books and was recorded over a period of about 1600 years by over 30 human authors, says and teaches the same things throughout. Nor is it surprising that even the minutest points in the Bible are accurate and true. In fact, since God cannot lie and is always faithful (cf. Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 6:18; 2 Timothy 2:13), we could simply conclude that everything in the Bible is true and accurate and without mistake. But the Scriptures themselves also clearly teach that they are in all points true and without error. Jesus said, in His high priestly prayer, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). In another place, Jesus stated, “the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Therefore, we hold not only to the inspiration of the Scriptures, but also to the truthfulness and accuracy of every word of Scripture; for it is not man’s word, but God’s!

Furthermore, the Scriptures say: “Every word of God is pure” (Proverbs 30:5); and, “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160).

Now there are many who say that the Word of God has been lost and corrupted down through the centuries and that what we have in our Bibles may not actually be the very Word of God. This too is false, for there are more copies, translations and quotations supporting the authenticity of our Bible than for any other ancient historical book or writing.

But we also have the word and promise of God to faithfully preserve His Word as a witness to all the nations down to the end of time. Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14); and, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). The Scriptures also say: “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89); “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8); and, “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:25).

It is true that we only have copies of the original Hebrew and Greek writings, but these copies were made with the greatest of care and precision to ensure that nothing be changed or lost. The vast numbers of manuscripts which still remain and their remarkable unity and agreement testify to this care and to God’s hand in preserving the Scriptures for us today. The Old Testament books were copied and preserved through the work of Hebrew scribes. Their work was preserved through the work of the Masoretes. Thus, the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures have been preserved for us in what is known as the Masoretic Text. Thousands of manuscripts of the Greek New Testament remain, along with ancient translations, lectionaries and citations. The vast majority of these manuscripts agree throughout. They have come to be known as the Majority or Received Text.

Since all of the Bible and each and every word of the Bible has been given to us by inspiration of God, and since God has faithfully preserved His Word for us down through the centuries, it is both beneficial and important for us to use great care in choosing a Bible translation which accurately translates both the thoughts and words of the original languages. In fact, God Himself warns against adding to or taking away from the Word of God in any way. The Bible says: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2). Jesus Himself said: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot [smallest Hebrew letter] or one tittle [smallest part of a Hebrew letter] shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:18-19). The Bible closes with the warning: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19).

This is why I continue to use, teach from and recommend the King James Version of the Bible (or the New King James Version for those who need a more modern translation), for this English translation is not only beautiful to read and easy to memorize; it very accurately and faithfully translates the Word of God from the Hebrew Masoretic and Greek Received Texts – in my opinion, it is far more accurate than any other. In contrast, many of the other modern English translations are poorer translations, rely upon only a few less reliable texts, or both.

I hope this helps you to see the importance of reading and studying your Bibles. Remember, the Bible is the Word of God, your Maker, your Redeemer and your Judge. He has given it to you to teach you of Him and to show you the way of life through faith in Him. Please, I plead with you, take the time to read and study its pages! Read a few verses or a chapter a day. Pray about it, apply it to yourself and meditate upon it.

I close this letter for now, praying that our God will give you the desire and willingness to read and study His life-giving Word. God bless and keep you all!

Until next time, with all my love,

Dad

Pastor Randy Moll

The Brief Statement

of the

Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod as adopted in 1932

(Editor’s Note: This remains the official position of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod yet today, though in practice, many have departed from it.)

Of Justification

17. Holy Scripture sums up all its teachings regarding the love of God to the world of sinners, regarding the salvation wrought by Christ, and regarding faith in Christ as the only way to obtain salvation, in the article of justification. Scripture teaches that God has already declared the whole world to be righteous in Christ, Rom. 5:19; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Rom. 4:25; that therefore not for the sake of their good works, but without the works of the Law, by grace, for Christ’s sake, He justifies, that is, accounts as righteous, all those who believe in Christ, that is, believe, accept, and rely on, the fact that for Christ’s sake their sins are forgiven. Thus the Holy Ghost testifies through St. Paul: “There is no difference; for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Rom. 3: 23,24. And again: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the Law,” Rom. 3:28.

18. Through this doctrine alone Christ is given the honor due Him, namely, that through His holy life and innocent suffering and death He is our Savior. And through this doctrine alone can poor sinners have the abiding comfort that God is assuredly gracious to them. We reject as apostasy from the Christian religion all doctrines whereby man’s own works and merit are mingled into the article of justification before God. For the Christian religion is the faith that we have forgiveness of sins and salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, Acts 10:43.

19. We reject as apostasy from the Christian religion not only the doctrine of the Unitarians, who promise the grace of God to men on the basis of their moral efforts; not only the gross work-doctrine of the papists, who expressly teach that good works are necessary to obtain justification; but also the doctrine of the synergists, who indeed use the terminology of the Christian Church and say that man is justified “by faith,” “by faith alone,” but again mix human works into the article of justification by ascribing to man a co-operation with God in the kindling of faith and thus stray into papistic territory.

Bible Study in Preparation for Sunday

The Adult Bible Class will continue its study of the resurrection accounts in the four Gospels and in 1 Corinthians 15:1ff. To prepare, read the resurrection accounts and consider the chronology and the significance of what took place. What does Jesus’ resurrection prove? What assurances can you draw from the fact that Jesus did rise on the third day?

The Catechism Class continues studying the Lord’s Prayer and the Sacraments and learning of Jesus and what He has done to redeem all mankind.

The Sunday Readings are Psalm 148; Acts 5:12-32; Revelation 1:4-18; and John 20:19-31. Please take the time to read them in their context in preparation for Sunday. Psalm 148 – Who and what are called upon to praise the LORD in this psalm? Why? Acts 5:12-32 – What were the apostles of Jesus doing in Jerusalem after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension? What was the reaction of the Jewish leaders? Why? What did they do? Who opened the prison doors for the apostles? What were they directed to do? What are we to be doing, regardless of the earthly consequences? Who are we to obey first and foremost? How might this have application in specific instances today for us? Revelation 1:4-18 – How does verse 5 describe Jesus? What has He done for us? What has He made us? How will He return? What will be the result? How does Jesus describe Himself? What does this mean? Why was John in exile? Where was he? How did Jesus appear to John? What does verse 18 mean? What implication does it have for you and for me? John 20:19-31 – Where were Jesus’ disciples on the night of Jesus’ resurrection? Who appeared to them? What did He say to them? What did Jesus mean in verses 21-23? How do these words have application to us today? Who was not present at this resurrection appearance of Jesus? Was he willing to believe based on the word of the other disciples? What did he say? What happened a week later? What did Jesus say? How did Thomas respond? What does this teach us about Jesus and His concern for every soul? What does John say of his gospel account? Why did John write the Gospel?

Remember to Pray

Remember to pray for our church and for all our members, that none be lost to Christ’s kingdom but that all continue in repentance and be strengthened and built up in the true and saving faith in Christ Jesus through the hearing and study of His Word. We continue to pray for all who have been sick or who are suffering among us, for those who have been absent from us, for our extended families, for Christians who are alone and have no congregation, and for our adopted soldiers. Pray for God’s help with our church’s financial needs. Continue to pray for the Lutheran Churches in the Philippines, for Christians in Nigeria, Haiti and Chile, and for believers around the world who are persecuted or suffering.

Events and Announcements

The Choir is practicing for upcoming services. More voices are always welcome.

A Special Informational Congregational Meeting has been set for 7 p.m., tonight, at the church to update members on a number of issues related to the church property and finances.

The April Church Council meeting is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 14.

Congregational Evening Bible studies will resume on the second Wednesday in May, at 7 p.m.

Information for bulletins or newsletters may be sent to Pastor Moll by calling him at 479-233-0081 or by e-mail at goodshepherdrogers@yahoo.com.

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21

[Scripture in this Newsletter is taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

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