Jesus, our Good Shepherd

“I am the Good Shepherd, and I know those that are Mine, and I am known by those who are Mine.” John 10:14 (Read John 10)

Though hirelings flee before the wolves and thieves seek to steal and destroy God’s flock, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep. He suffered and died for the sins of the world, rose again, and now seeks to gather His sheep into His fold – His Church – protect them from the assaults of the devil and his followers, and nourish and keep them unto life everlasting.

As Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (v. 27; cf v. 3-5). Jesus’ sheep hear His Word, trust in Him and follow Him. They do not follow strangers or accept strange doctrines, because they do not know the voice of strangers and recognize that strangers are not speaking the words of Jesus.

True believers follow Jesus and accept His words, His doctrine, the Bible. They recognize that the Bible is the voice of Jesus calling His sheep, leading them, guiding them and warning them of danger. They will not follow the teaching of those who pervert God’s Word, add to it or take from it.

Jesus knows those who are His. He calls them by name and brings them into His flock and fold. And His sheep know Jesus. They know that He is God Himself in human flesh, come into this world to redeem lost mankind. They know and believe that God forgives all their sins and accepts them for the sake of Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross. They trust in Jesus to give them eternal life.

And Jesus gives life to His sheep – both now and forever in His eternal kingdom. It is, as Jesus said: “I give to them eternal life, and they shall never ever perish, and not anyone shall pluck them out of My hand. My Father who gave them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one!” (v. 28-30).

Though thieves and robbers seek to enter the sheepfold by another way to prey upon God’s flock and attack and destroy God’s sheep, Jesus, our Good Shepherd, gave His life for the sheep to save us. He suffered and died on the cross and rose again from the dead to grant us life everlasting.

O Lord Jesus, Shepherd of the sheep, grant that we hear and follow only Your voice and turn from the voice of strangers. Grant us faith to trust in You and follow You unto life everlasting. Amen.

Scripture quotations from Green’s Modern King James Version (MKJV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.

Words of Encouragement for April 26

Meditations from 1 John

And this is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.  1 John 1:5-10 (MKJV)

What is it to walk in the light or to walk in darkness?

John answers this question for us when he says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

If we claim to be without sin or seek to hide and cover up our sin, we are walking in darkness. We are attempting to keep our sinfulness from being exposed by the light of God’s Word, and we deceive only ourselves but not God.

John wrote in his Gospel: “And this is the condemnation, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices truth comes to the Light so that his deeds may be made known, that they have been worked in God.”

This is why people would rather not read the Bible or attend church services where God’s Word is preached and proclaimed in its truth and purity. They would rather stay in the darkness than have the wickedness of their hearts and actions exposed for what they are.

Though God is light and is sinless and holy, to walk in the light does not mean that we, of ourselves are without sin. To walk in the light is to face the truth – to hear what God says of us and our sins and to look to Him for mercy and forgiveness for the sake of the atoning sacrifice of Messiah Jesus, God the Son and Son of man.

When John writes, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” he is saying, literally, that when we confess and say of our sins what God says of our sins (ομολογωμεν), that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Consider David’s words in the opening verses of Psalm 32 (v. 1-5): “Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not charge iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones became old through my roaring all the day long. For by day and by night Your hand was heavy on me; my sap is turned into the droughts of summer. Selah. I confessed my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, I will confess my transgression to the LORD; and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

When David kept silent about His sins, he felt God’s wrath upon him; but when He acknowledged and confessed his sin, God forgave him. When David walked in darkness and hid from the light, he bore the guilt and weight of his sinful deeds. When He came into the light and confessed his sins, God forgave him, lifted the burden of guilt and cleansed him.

John wrote the words of this epistle so that we might not hide and cover up our sins – that we might not deceive ourselves and walk in darkness. Rather, John calls upon you and me to walk in the light and have our sinfulness exposed that the light of God’s mercy and grace may also shine upon us and we hear and take comfort in God’s forgiveness which was won for us for the sake of Jesus and His blood shed upon the cross for the sins of the world.

And how can God be faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness? It is because “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He is the propitiation concerning our sins, and not concerning ours only, but also concerning the sins of all the world” (1John 2:1,2).

O Holy Spirit, shine upon our hearts with the light of Your Word. Reveal our sinfulness in thoughts, desires, words and deeds and move us to acknowledge and confess our sins to the Father, seeking and imploring His grace and forgiveness for the sake of the Son, who shed His blood on the cross to redeem us and is risen again and intercedes for us. In Christ Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

(Editor’s note: If you haven’t already seen this on our church website, I would encourage you to read it and join me in praying for the lost in this world.)

Like sheep without a shepherd

There’s a passage in the Gospel of Matthew which so well describes the people of this world: “And seeing the crowds, He was moved with pity for them, because they were tired and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (9:36 LITV).

How true these words remain! Like sheep without a shepherd and wandering aimlessly here and there looking for fulfillment in life but not finding it, trying this and trying that but without any lasting happiness or purpose: how well this depicts so many around us!

And, how sad! I wonder sometimes how people can live like that, not really knowing their Maker and why they are here in this world. Though they may be knowledgeable and wise, they are not wise in the things which really matter. Though they experience many temporary joys, they know no lasting peace and happiness!

Jesus was filled with pity — moved with compassion — for the people of His day whom He encountered during His earthly ministry. Though they may have been religious, most didn’t even know the God they claimed to worship. Though He was their Maker and came into the world to suffer and die to redeem them, they didn’t recognize Him. Instead of being concerned about their spiritual and eternal well being, their concern was only for earthly things. Instead of desiring the Bread of Life to nourish and give life to their souls, they desired only earthly bread to temporarily nourish their bodies. Though they thought they could see, they were blind to the truth taught throughout the Scriptures.

And nothing has changed. Many people are still religious, but few know their Maker and Redeemer. They seek the Lord, but not for forgiveness and life everlasting; they seek Him only when they desire help to meet their earthly needs. They think they see and know the truth, but they are spiritually blind, dead and in rebellion against their God and Maker.

It’s especially disheartening to see one’s own children or family members wandering about in life without knowing and following the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep and who seeks to gather them into His fold and lead them to nourishing pastures and springs of life-giving waters. Instead of seeking out their Shepherd and hearing Him call them through His Word, they wander off in other directions and pay no heed to the Word.

Jesus urged His disciples to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into the harvest; for, He said, the harvest truly is great but the workers are few. That is true today as well. There are so many wandering through life, clueless as to what it’s all about and not knowing the One who suffered, died and rose again and who now offers them pardon, forgiveness and life in fellowship with their Maker, both now and in eternity. But the workers are few — most are clueless themselves and are blind leaders of the blind. While many hold up Jesus as an example of a loving and caring life, few proclaim what Jesus did for all when He, in love, went to the cross and laid down His life for us wandering sheep to win for us forgiveness and life everlasting.

It is my prayer — and I hope it is yours too — that Jesus, the Lord of the Harvest, would raise up workers who, like Him, have pity on all the lost sheep of this world, and that they would go out and proclaim God’s Word — nothing more and nothing less — and call those wandering sheep back from their wandering ways to Jesus, the true Shepherd of their souls.

Jesus is the giver of life and only in Him can lost souls have life!

 

From the Lutheran Confessions

The Smalcald Articles

THE THIRD PART OF THE ARTICLES

Part III, Article X. Of Ordination and the Call.

1] If the bishops would be true bishops [would rightly discharge their office], and would devote themselves to the Church and the Gospel, it might be granted to them for the sake of love and unity, but not from necessity, to ordain and confirm us and our preachers; omitting, however, all comedies and spectacular display [deceptions, absurdities, and appearances] of unchristian [heathenish] parade and pomp. 2] But because they neither are, nor wish to be, true bishops, but worldly lords and princes, who will neither preach, nor teach, nor baptize, nor administer the Lord’s Supper, nor perform any work or office of the Church, and, moreover, persecute and condemn those who discharge these functions, having been called to do so, the Church ought not on their account to remain without ministers [to be forsaken by or deprived of ministers].

3] Therefore, as the ancient examples of the Church and the Fathers teach us, we ourselves will and ought to ordain suitable persons to this office; and, even according to their own laws, they have not the right to forbid or prevent us. For their laws say that those ordained even by heretics should be declared [truly] ordained and stay ordained [and that such ordination must not be changed], as St. Jerome writes of the Church at Alexandria, that at first it was governed in common by priests and preachers, without bishops.

Part III, Article XI. Of the Marriage of Priests.

1] To prohibit marriage, and to burden the divine order of priests with perpetual celibacy, they have had neither authority nor right [they have done out of malice, without any honest reason], but have acted like antichristian, tyrannical, desperate scoundrels [have performed the work of antichrist, of tyrants and the worst knaves], and have thereby caused all kinds of horrible, abominable, innumerable sins of unchastity [depraved lusts], in which they still wallow. 2] Now, as little as we or they have been given the power to make a woman out of a man or a man out of a woman, or to nullify either sex, so little have they had the power to [sunder and] separate such creatures of God, or to forbid them from living [and cohabiting] honestly in marriage with one another. 3] Therefore we are unwilling to assent to their abominable celibacy, nor will we [even] tolerate it, but we wish to have marriage free as God has instituted [and ordained] it, and we wish neither to rescind nor hinder His work; for Paul says, 1 Tim. 4:1ff , that this [prohibition of marriage] is a doctrine of devils.

 

Bible Study in Preparation for Sunday

Scripture Readings for Sunday are: Psalm 23; Acts 4:1-12; 1 John 3:16-24; and John 10:11-18. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship on Sunday.

The Sunday Adult Bible Class will continue its study of the book of Hebrews, in chapter 10, verse 19ff.

 

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 and for believers who are alone and have no congregation. Continue to pray for Lutheran congregations and believers around the world who are persecuted or suffering for their faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Events and Announcements

A pot-luck picnic is being planned for after church on Sunday, May 6. Watch the bulletin and newsletter for more information.

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.

 

Scripture quotations from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV) or Modern King James Version (MKJV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.

Purifying and conforming ourselves to His image

“And everyone who has this hope on him purifies himself, even as that One is pure. ” 1 John 3:3 (Read 3:1-10)

Because Jesus Christ suffered and died upon the cross for the sins of the world and rose again on the third day, our hope as believers is in heaven. We look forward to that Day when our Lord and Savior returns and changes us to be like Him that we might live with Him forever in His heavenly kingdom!

And, since our hope is in heaven, we purify ourselves, even as our Lord and Savior is pure. We remember that Christ Jesus came into the world to redeem us from sin and undo the works of the devil. Therefore, since we have been redeemed through the precious blood of Jesus, we now seek to live for Him rather than continuing on in the wicked works of the devil.

In fact, the Word of God says: “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who does righteousness is righteous, even as that One is righteous. He who practices sin is of the Devil, for the Devil sins from the beginning” (v. 7-8); and, “Everyone who has been born of God does not commit sin, because His seed remains in him, and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God are revealed, and the children of the Devil: everyone not practicing righteousness is not of God, also he who does not love his brother” (v.9,10).

To put it simply, the one who continues on in sin and disobedience is not of God but of the devil; but the one who purifies himself and practices righteousness shows evidence that he has been born anew of God and trusts in Christ Jesus and his Savior.

It is true that one cannot become a Christian by works. But it is also true that one cannot be a Christian without works, for the fruit of faith in Jesus is amending one’s life and seeking to live in accord with God’s perfect will which is revealed to us in the Scriptures. A man is not justified by works, but a justified man works (cf. Eph. 2:8-10).

Therefore, since Christ died for our sins and is risen again, since God is gracious and merciful to us and forgives our sins and gives us a place in His heavenly kingdom, the Scriptures call upon each of us who trust in Christ Jesus to purify ourselves just as He is pure, to begin conforming ourselves into the image to which we were called, to live for Him who died for us and is risen again (cf. 2 Cor. 5:15; Rom. 8:29).

O Lord Jesus Christ, with Your shed blood, cleanse me from all my sins. By Your Spirit, purify me as You are pure and grant that I seek to conform myself to Your image. Amen.

Devotion by Randy Moll. Scripture quotations from Green’s Modern King James Version (MKJV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, Ind.

Like sheep without a shepherd

There’s a passage in the Gospel of Matthew which so well describes the people of this world: “And seeing the crowds, He was moved with pity for them, because they were tired and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (9:36).

How true these words remain! Like sheep without a shepherd and wandering aimlessly here and there looking for fulfillment in life but not finding it, trying this and trying that but without any lasting happiness or purpose: how well this depicts so many around us!

And, how sad! I wonder sometimes how people can live like that, not really knowing their Maker and why they are here in this world. Though they may be knowledgeable and wise, they are not wise in the things which really matter. Though they experience many temporary joys, they know no lasting peace and happiness!

Jesus was filled with pity — moved with compassion — for the people of His day whom He encountered during His earthly ministry. Though they may have been religious, most didn’t even know the God they claimed to worship. Though He was their Maker and came into the world to suffer and die to redeem them, they didn’t recognize Him. Instead of being concerned about their spiritual and eternal well being, their concern was only for earthly things. Instead of desiring the Bread of Life to nourish and give life to their souls, they desired only earthly bread to temporarily nourish their bodies. Though they thought they could see, they were blind to the truth taught throughout the Scriptures.

And nothing has changed. Many people are still religious, but few know their Maker and Redeemer. They seek the Lord, but not for forgiveness and life everlasting; they seek Him only when they desire help to meet their earthly needs. They think they see and know the truth, but they are spiritually blind, dead and in rebellion against their God and Maker.

It’s especially disheartening to see one’s own children or family members wandering about in life without knowing and following the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep and who seeks to gather them into His fold and lead them to nourishing pastures and springs of life-giving waters. Instead of seeking out their Shepherd and hearing Him call them through His Word, they wander off in other directions and pay no heed to the Word.

Jesus urged His disciples to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into the harvest; for, He said, the harvest truly is great but the workers are few. That is true today as well. There are so many wandering through life, clueless as to what it’s all about and not knowing the One who suffered, died and rose again and who now offers them pardon, forgiveness and life in fellowship with their Maker, both now and in eternity. But the workers are few — most are clueless themselves and are blind leaders of the blind. While many hold up Jesus as an example of a loving and caring life, few proclaim what Jesus did for all when He, in love, went to the cross and laid down His life for us wandering sheep to win for us forgiveness and life everlasting.

It is my prayer — and I hope it is yours too — that Jesus, the Lord of the Harvest, would raise up workers who, like Him, have pity on all the lost sheep of this world, and that they would go out and proclaim God’s Word — nothing more and nothing less — and call those wandering sheep back from their wandering ways to Jesus, the true Shepherd of their souls.

Jesus is the giver of life and only in Him can lost souls have life!

 

 [Green's Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr. All rights reserved.]

Worldly blessing or heavenly inheritance?

“…from men of the world whose portion is in this life, and their belly You fill with Your treasure; they are satisfied with sons, and will leave their riches to their babes. As for me, in righteousness I will look upon Your face; when I awaken, I shall be satisfied by Your image.” Psalm 17:14,15

When praying to the LORD God for deliverance from the evil schemes of men and for God’s judgment upon the unbelieving and rebellious, David speaks of an important truth for all of us to consider.

Have you ever noticed how the ungodly prosper in this world? How they are greatly blessed in this life with wealth and earthly success while the believer often has nothing in comparison?

It is as the psalm says of “men of the world whose portion is in this life”: “Their belly You fill with Your treasure; they are satisfied with sons, and will leave their riches to their babes.” People of this world are often blessed of God with wealth and prosperity. They have, it would seem, all their heart could desire. They leave a rich inheritance for their children.

Believers, on the other hand, often have little or nothing in this world. They struggle to get by. Instead of a nice home, they may live in a small rented apartment. Instead of driving a luxury car, they may drive a used car and still have difficulty making their payments. Instead of leaving a rich inheritance for their children, they can’t even afford to help them get a good education.

But believers do have untold wealth! Though they may be poor in the goods of this world, they have their inheritance in heaven.

As the psalm says: “As for me, in righteousness I will look upon Your face; when I awaken, I shall be satisfied by Your image.”

Believers in Jesus, the promised Messiah and Savior of the world, have a better inheritance. They have the blessings of forgiveness of sins and life everlasting for the sake of Jesus Christ and His blood shed upon the cross for the sins of the world. They have the certainty of the resurrection – of being raised up righteous and without sin to forever be with the Lord Jesus. They have the rich inheritance of being raised up to look upon the face of the LORD God and being fully satisfied forever because His image will be restored in them. Believers will, as the catechism says in the explanation to the second article of the Apostles’ Creed, “live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.”

So, though those who have turned from their sinful and rebellious ways to the LORD God for mercy and forgiveness in the Son may have little or nothing in this world, they truly have everything, for they shall be raised up on the Last Day in righteousness. They shall behold the face of their Lord and Savior. And they shall be in His image and share in the glories of His heavenly kingdom forevermore!

O LORD God, grant that I not become discouraged when I see the wicked prosper in this world. Keep my eyes upon You and the inheritance awaiting me in heaven for the sake of Christ Jesus and His glorious redemption. In His name I pray. Amen.

Scripture quotations from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.

 

 

Words of Encouragement for April 18

1 John 1:1-4

1 We announce to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld, and what our hands touched, as regards the Word of Life. 2 And the Life was revealed, and we have seen, and we bear witness, and we announce to you the everlasting Life which was with the Father, and was revealed to us. 3 We announce to you what we have seen, and what we have heard, that you also may have fellowship with us. And truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. 4 And we write these things to you, that your joy may be full.

What is it that John proclaimed to his readers? As he says, it was from the beginning, they saw it with their eyes and touched it with their hands. It is the Word of Life, that eternal Word of which he also wrote in John, chapter one: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men….” (John 1:1-4).

John proclaimed the eternal Word, who “became flesh and tabernacled among us. And we beheld His glory, glory as of an only begotten from the Father, full of grace and of truth” (John 1:14). He proclaimed the life-giving Son of God who was born into this world a true man and won for us all forgiveness of sins and everlasting life.

This everlasting life was with the Father. It was the Father’s eternal plan to send the Son into the world to suffer and die for the sins of all and rise again.

The Son of God and everlasting life in His name were revealed to John and his fellow apostles. They saw Jesus and heard His teaching. They witnessed His mighty miracles. They saw Him calm stormy seas, feed multitudes, cast out demonic spirits, heal the sick, raise the dead. They witnessed His glory on the mount of transfiguration. And, after His sufferings and death on the cross, they were eye witnesses of his resurrection, seeing Him, touching Him and talking with Him numerous times before His ascension to the right hand of the Father.

This they announced and proclaimed to their hearers that they too might come to know and trust in Messiah Jesus as the Son of God and their Savior – that they too might received everlasting life in Jesus’ name.

John proclaims Jesus, the eternal Son of God come into this world a true man to be our Savior, that we and all who hear might have fellowship with John, the apostles and all other true believers in Jesus. And note that this fellowship – this koinonia – is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

How different this is from the way so many in our day seek to have fellowship, joining together without regard for the true doctrine of Jesus Christ! True fellowship in Christ’s Church is a creation of the Holy Spirit which He brings about when He reveals to sinners the salvation God the Father has provided in His Son. Fellowship with the Church and all other true believers comes about when we enter into fellowship with God the Father through faith in the Son and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.

And from where does fullness of joy come? The only fulfilling joy and happiness, the only lasting joy, comes through knowing and partaking of the eternal salvation God has provided in His Son.

O gracious and merciful God, make known to us Your Son and the eternal salvation You have provided for us through His innocent sufferings and death and His glorious resurrection. Bring us into fellowship with You, the Son, and with all other true believers of all time. Grant us fullness of joy through the knowledge of forgiveness and life everlasting in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

From the Lutheran Confessions

The Smalcald Articles

THE THIRD PART OF THE ARTICLES

Part III, Article VII. Of the Keys.

1] The keys are an office and power given by Christ to the Church for binding and loosing sin, not only the gross and well-known sins, but also the subtle, hidden, which are known only to God, as it is written in Ps. 19:13: Who can understand his errors? And in Rom. 7:25 St. Paul himself complains that with the flesh he serves the law of sin. 2] For it is not in our power, but belongs to God alone, to judge which, how great, and how many the sins are, as it is written in Ps. 143:2: Enter not into judgment with Thy servant; for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified. 3] And Paul says, 1 Cor. 4:4: For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified.

Part III, Article VIII. Of Confession.

1] Since Absolution or the Power of the Keys is also an aid and consolation against sin and a bad conscience, ordained by Christ [Himself] in the Gospel, Confession or Absolution ought by no means to be abolished in the Church, especially on account of [tender and] timid consciences and on account of the untrained [and capricious] young people, in order that they may be examined, and instructed in the Christian doctrine.

2] But the enumeration of sins ought to be free to every one, as to what he wishes to enumerate or not to enumerate. For as long as we are in the flesh, we shall not lie when we say: “I am a poor man [I acknowledge that I am a miserable sinner], full of sin.” Rom. 7:23: I see another law in my members, etc. For since private absolution originates in the Office of the Keys, it should not be despised [neglected], but greatly and highly esteemed [of the greatest worth], as [also] all other offices of the Christian Church.

3] And in those things which concern the spoken, outward Word, we must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no one, except through or with the preceding outward Word, in order that we may [thus] be protected against the enthusiasts, i.e., spirits who boast that they have the Spirit without and before the Word, and accordingly judge Scripture or the spoken Word, and explain and stretch it at their pleasure, as Muenzer did, and many still do at the present day, who wish to be acute judges between the Spirit and the letter, and yet know not what they say or declare. 4] For [indeed] the Papacy also is nothing but sheer enthusiasm, by which the Pope boasts that all rights exist in the shrine of his heart, and whatever he decides and commands with [in] his church is spirit and right, even though it is above and contrary to Scripture and the spoken Word.

5] All this is the old devil and old serpent, who also converted Adam and Eve into enthusiasts, and led them from the outward Word of God to spiritualizing and self-conceit, and nevertheless he accomplished this through other outward words. 6] Just as also our enthusiasts [at the present day] condemn the outward Word, and nevertheless they themselves are not silent, but they fill the world with their pratings and writings, as though, indeed, the Spirit could not come through the writings and spoken word of the apostles, but [first] through their writings and words he must come. Why [then] do not they also omit their own sermons and writings, until the Spirit Himself come to men, without their writings and before them, as they boast that He has come into them without the preaching of the Scriptures? But of these matters there is not time now to dispute at greater length; we have elsewhere sufficiently urged this subject.

7] For even those who believe before Baptism, or become believing in Baptism, believe through the preceding outward Word, as the adults, who have come to reason, must first have heard: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, even though they are at first unbelieving, and receive the Spirit and Baptism ten years afterwards. 8] Cornelius, Acts 10:1ff , had heard long before among the Jews of the coming Messiah, through whom he was righteous before God, and in such faith his prayers and alms were acceptable to God (as Luke calls him devout and God-fearing), and without such preceding Word and hearing could not have believed or been righteous. But St. Peter had to reveal to him that the Messiah (in whom, as one that was to come, he had hitherto believed) now had come, lest his faith concerning the coming Messiah hold him captive among the hardened and unbelieving Jews, but know that he was now to be saved by the present Messiah, and must not, with the [rabble of the] Jews deny nor persecute Him.

9] In a word, enthusiasm inheres in Adam and his children from the beginning [from the first fall] to the end of the world, [its poison] having been implanted and infused into them by the old dragon, and is the origin, power [life], and strength of all heresy, especially of that of the Papacy and Mahomet. 10] Therefore we ought and must constantly maintain this point, that God does not wish to deal with us otherwise than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. 11] It is the devil himself whatsoever is extolled as Spirit without the Word and Sacraments. For God wished to appear even to Moses through the burning bush and spoken Word; and no prophet neither Elijah nor Elisha, received the Spirit without the Ten Commandments [or spoken Word]. 12] Neither was John the Baptist conceived without the preceding word of Gabriel, nor did he leap in his mother’s womb without the voice of Mary. 13] And Peter says, 2 Pet. 1:21: The prophecy came not by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Without the outward Word, however, they were not holy, much less would the Holy Ghost have moved them to speak when they still were unholy [or profane]; for they were holy, says he, since the Holy Ghost spake through them.

Part III, Article IX. Of Excommunication.

The greater excommunication, as the Pope calls it, we regard only as a civil penalty, and it does not concern us ministers of the Church. But the lesser, that is, the true Christian excommunication, consists in this, that manifest and obstinate sinners are not admitted to the Sacrament and other communion of the Church until they amend their lives and avoid sin. And ministers ought not to mingle secular punishments with this ecclesiastical punishment, or excommunication.

 

Bible Study in Preparation for Sunday

Scripture Readings for Sunday are: Psalm 4; Acts 3:11-21; 1 John 3:1-7; and Luke 24:36-49. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship on Sunday.

The Sunday Adult Bible Class will continue its study of the book of Hebrews, in chapter 10, verse 1ff.

 

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 Dixie Grant, Dawn Hiebert, Sam Rusch, Bonnie Hawes, Mel Boren and Pastor Moll; for those who have been absent from us, for our extended families and for believers who are alone and have no congregation. Continue to pray for Lutheran congregations and believers around the world who are persecuted or suffering for their faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Events and Announcements

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.

Scripture quotations from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.

 

Are you walking in light or in darkness?

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:6-7 (Read 1 John 1:1 – 2:2)

Are you walking in light or in darkness? Sad to say, many, even among professing Christians, are walking in darkness; and each and every one of us would also choose to walk in darkness rather than coming to the light where our sinfulness and evil deeds are exposed (cf. John 3:19-21; John 1:1-14). But to continue on in darkness leads to death; to walk in the light leads to forgiveness and life everlasting.

While many would profess to have fellowship with God the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ, that is not possible if they are walking in darkness, if they are hiding and covering up their sins and sinfulness and pretending to be righteous of themselves. One cannot be a Christian and be continuing on in sin and willful disobedience, and one cannot have fellowship with the Father and be hiding and covering up sin. If we pretend to be Christians and in fellowship with the Father and are impenitent, continuing on in our old sinful ways, we are deceiving ourselves and not practicing the truth. If we are hiding and covering up our sins rather than acknowledging them and seeking God’s forgiveness, we are lying and walking in darkness and unbelief (cf. Psalm 32:1ff.).

“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin … If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

To walk in the light is to acknowledge our sins and sinfulness – literally to say the same thing as God about our sins (ομολογωμεν) – and He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness so that we are acquitted, innocent and justified in His sight.

And how can God be faithful and just in forgiving our sins? It is because “Jesus Christ the righteous … is the propitiation concerning our sins, and not concerning ours only, but also concerning the sins of all the world.” Jesus shed His blood on the cross for our sins and the sins of all. Our sin was punished in Jesus. God’s justice is satisfied. In Jesus we have forgiveness and life eternal!

Are you walking in darkness or in the light? Jesus and His Word shine into the darkness of this world, exposing sin, error and disobedience but offering forgiveness and life. Don’t hide from the light. Rather, walk in the light, confessing your sins and receiving God’s forgiveness and life for the sake of Jesus’ shed blood.

Shine upon us, Lord. Reveal our sinfulness but bring us to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus, our crucified and risen Savior. In His name we pray. Amen.

[Scripture quotations from Green's Modern King James Version (MKJV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.]

Words of Encouragement for April 12

No Christianity without Jesus’ resurrection

On Sunday, churches throughout the West celebrated Easter. For those of the Eastern Orthodox tradition, it will be celebrated next Sunday. While for many the focus of Easter celebrations is more on egg hunts and time with family and friends, the focus for Christians is on the resurrection of Jesus and what that means for each of us.

What remains a mystery to me is how so many can claim to be Christians and observe the Easter celebration and yet not believe in the historical resurrection of Jesus.

The bodily resurrection of Jesus is so central to the Christian Faith that there really could not even be a Christian Faith if Jesus did not rise from the dead. Without the resurrection of Jesus – who was crucified and suffered and died for the sins of all the world – there would be no reason to celebrate, no acquittal of sinners, no pardon, no forgiveness from God!

The Apostle Paul wrote of this to the believers in the Greek city of Corinth: “For if Christ was not raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins, and then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost” (1 Cor. 15:17-18).

Everything hinges on the factualness of the resurrection of Jesus. That is also why the Apostle not only told the believers in Corinth that Christ truly did rise from the dead; he provided them with a long list of eyewitnesses who had seen the risen Christ to prove Jesus’ resurrection was a historical fact.

He wrote, “For I delivered to you at the first what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again thethird day, according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). He then went on to list those who had seen Jesus alive. There was Peter, the 12 apostles, more than 500 brothers at one time (and most were still alive at the time of Paul’s writing if any had questions or doubts about the resurrection). There were James, all the apostles again, and, lastly, Paul himself.

Because Jesus did rise from the dead, Christians are assured of forgiveness and life in His name.

Paul wrote to the believers at Rome, saying that Jesus “was delivered on account of our sins and was raised on account of our justification” (Rom. 4:25). The sins of the world were laid upon Jesus, and He was punished in the stead of mankind. His resurrection means that indeed full atonement was made. God accepted the sacrifice of His Son. For Jesus’ sake, the sins of all are paid for in full and pardoned by God!

He wrote to the Christians in the Greek city of Thessalonica: “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, those also who have fallen asleep through Jesus God will bring with Him” (1 Thess. 4:14). And he goes on to describe how, when Jesus returns, the dead in Christ will be raised up first, and then we believers who are alive and remain will be caught up in the clouds to meet our Lord Jesus in the air to be forever with the Lord.

Now I wonder what those celebrate who do not believe the eye-witnessed accounts of Jesus’resurrection? What hope could they possibly have? They have no guarantee of forgiveness from God. They remain dead in their sins. They have no reason to believe that they will ever be raised up from the dead to enjoy the everlasting joys of heaven because, if Christ did not rise, how could they ever hope to be raised up? If they claim to be Christian but do not hold to the historical resurrection of Jesus, they are, as Paul said, “of all men, the most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19).

[Scriptures in this article translated by author directly from the Greek Received Text.]

 

“And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Matthew 28:5-6

If you were looking for a loved one who had died and was buried, where would you look? Wouldn’t you go to the cemetery and to the grave site? I believe most of us, at least at times, visit the graves of much-loved family members and friends.

Where would you have gone to find Jesus on that first Sunday morning after His crucifixion and burial? Wouldn’t you, like the women who followed Jesus, have gone to His tomb, expecting to find His body there? Yet, we see from the Scriptures that the tomb was the wrong place to look for Jesus – we would not have found Him there!

When the women went to the tomb on the third day, that first Sunday morning following Jesus’ death and burial, they did not find the body of Jesus laying in the tomb (Matthew 28:1ff.; Mark16:1ff.; Luke 23:55ff.). Instead, they saw an angel of God who told them, “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Jesus was not found in the tomb, because He had risen “as He said” (cf. Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19). There had been “a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door” of the tomb, showing to all the world that the tomb was empty – that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead (Matthew 28:2).

Where can we find Jesus? If we travel to Jerusalem, to the tomb site, as many do at this time of year, we will not find Jesus; for He is not there! He is not in the grave, as some would have us believe (vv. 11-15)! He is risen as He said, and the tomb is empty!

And so, where can we find Jesus? We know and believe that He has risen and is alive, and that He has paid in full for all our sins and is ascended to the right hand of God the Father, where He intercedes for us and prepares a place for us to be with Him forever (cf. Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1-2; John 14:1-3). We know that He rules and fills all things and is with us always to the end of this world (cf. Ephesians 1:20-23; Matthew 28:20). We know that He dwells in our hearts by His Holy Spirit (John 14:23ff.; 16:7ff.). And, we know that He will come again to raise up the dead and to take all who have placed their hope in Him to be with Him forever in heaven (cf. Hebrews 9:24-28; John 5:28-29; 6:39-40; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 20:11- 21:8; 1 Peter 1:3-5)!

Where can we find Jesus? Not among the dead, but among the living! And, we look for Him to appear in clouds of glory at any moment! This same Jesus who “loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood … cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him” (Revelation 1:5, 7; cf. Acts 1:11). Don’t look for Him in the tombs. Instead, keep looking up!

O Dear Lord Jesus, grant that we not look for You among the dead, but among the living, and trust that, as You have died for our sins and are risen again, we have forgiveness for all sins and shall also rise to dwell with You in the eternal mansions of heaven. Amen.

 

“And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” Luke 24:30-32 Read Luke 24:13-43

Not desiring that these two disciples go away in unbelief and filled with doubts over what had occurred in Jerusalem and the accounts they had heard of His resurrection, Jesus joined them on the road to Emmaus that first Easter eve and showed them from the Old Testament Scriptures that it was indeed necessary for the Messiah to suffer and die for the sins of all the world and to rise again on the third day.

Their hearts burned within them as Jesus taught them from the Word of God and opened up to them the Scriptures. And, as we read, in the breaking of bread, their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus, alive from the dead.

Jesus does not want us to go away from hearing again the events of that first resurrection Sunday without faith. He doesn’t want us to leave perplexed or troubled by doubts and fears over what happened and what it means to us, and so, by His Holy Spirit, He comes to us and shows us from His Word that it truly was necessary for Him to suffer and die upon the cross and be forsaken and condemned of His own Father on account of our sins. He opens up the Scriptures to us and shows us that He was to die for the sins of the world and rise again on the third day (cf. Isa. 53) that we and all sinners might have God’s pardon and forgiveness and through faith in Christ’s shed blood receive life everlasting.

And though we may not yet see with our eyes His bodily presence with us, Jesus reveals Himself to us as our crucified and risen Savior through the Scriptures. He opens to us the divine Word that we might see Him and know and trust in His great love and mercy toward us.

And do not our hearts burn within us as we hear the Word of our God and Savior? Through the Scriptures, He reveals and makes known to us that indeed “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures … He was buried … and He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3,4). He makes known to us that “He [God the Father] hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:6,7).

Dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, grant that we not come away from the hearing of Your innocent sufferings and death upon the cross, and of Your glorious resurrection, troubled by doubts and fears. Come to us by Your Holy Spirit and open up the Scriptures to us that we may come to see You and know and believe that in You we have forgiveness for all our sins and life everlasting. Amen.

 

If Christ Be Not Raised….

“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” 1 Corinthians 15:17-20

Today, we as Christians celebrate the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave after His crucifixion and brutal death upon a Roman cross just days before.

But not all believe in the resurrection. Even among so called “Christians” there are some who question and deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus and treat the whole issue of Jesus’ bodily resurrection as an insignificant matter, speaking only of a spiritual resurrection in which Jesus’ followers carry on His work by showing love and doing charitable works for the good of all mankind.

But is the historical fact of Jesus’ resurrection really important? Does our faith really depend upon it? I invite you to listen to the inspired Word of God penned by the hand of the Apostle Paul and consider the hypothetical question: What “if Christ be not raised”?

“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”

What does the Word of God say? If Jesus did not truly rise from the dead, our faith is vain, empty and useless! If Jesus is not alive, you and I are still dead in our sins and have no hope of forgiveness and life everlasting. If Jesus’ body is still moldering or decaying in some ancient tomb near Jerusalem, all those who died trusting in Jesus Christ – from Adam and Eve, Abraham and David to our very own loved ones who fell asleep in the confidences that Jesus would raise them up are lost forever.

And if our faith and hope in Christ Jesus is only of benefit in this life – a crutch or security blanket to help us cope with life’s problems – we are, as St. Paul writes, “of all men most miserable.”

Think of the Apostle Paul and the other disciples of Jesus who suffered the loss of all things and were persecuted and even killed because of their faith in the crucified and risen Christ. If Christ did not rise, what a waste the lives of his followers were! And what about you and me? If Christ be not raised, all our time and effort put into serving Christ and spreading His kingdom would have been a sham, a deception and a complete waste of our time and resources.

If Jesus were not raised, we would have nothing to celebrate today, no reason to be here on Sunday mornings and no hope for tomorrow! Without the bodily resurrection of Jesus, there can be no Christianity, no Church, no kingdom of God!

But Jesus did rise bodily from the grave! The tomb was empty. Angels announced His resurrection, and Jesus Himself appeared to His disciples showing Himself to be risen and alive by many infallible proofs over a period of 40 days (cf. Acts 1:3). Jesus appeared to the women, to the twelve apostles and to many other of His disciples on numerous occasions.

The apostle sums up Jesus’ resurrection appearances in this way: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

You see, if anyone during the First Century had questions or doubts about Jesus’ resurrection, there was no shortage of eyewitnesses to His resurrection appearances. He even appeared to more than 500 disciples at once, and most of them were still alive if anyone wanted to talk to them and hear their eyewitness accounts. The Apostle Paul includes himself in the list of witnesses because of the risen Christ’s appearances to Him.

The Jewish rulers who tried to cover up the fact of Jesus’ resurrection by bribing the soldiers to say Jesus’ disciples stole the body while they were asleep – in itself, a foolish story – could have put an end to all question if they had just produced the body, but they didn’t and they couldn’t because there was not body to be found – they knew the tomb was empty! And, if such a story were true, why would Jesus’ disciples give up everything, including their lives, to promote a lie? They wouldn’t have; but they did give up all, they did suffer painful and torturous deaths for one reason: Jesus did rise, as He said.

And what does the historical fact of Jesus’ resurrection mean for us today? It means our faith is not empty or vain. Jesus did indeed pay in full the just punishment for the sins of the whole world, for God raised Him up on the third day (cf. Romans 4:25). We, by the grace of God, are not still dead in our sins. Your sins and my sins are paid for in full and forgiven because of Christ’s perfect sacrifice.

It means that we too will be raised up, Christ, the first fruits, and we also when He returns. As Jesus said, “Because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19).

It means those who have fallen asleep before us, trusting in the Lord Jesus, have not perished. They are not lost forever. Rather, those who “sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him” on the Last Day (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

Yes, it’s true. Everything depends on the resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus did not rise, all is lost, no one can be saved. But Jesus did rise! And, because he died for all our sins and rose again in victory, we have forgiveness for all sins and the assurance that we shall be raised up to be with Him forever in paradise!

Dearest Lord Jesus, we give You thanks and praise for Your bitter sufferings and death in our stead, and for Your glorious resurrection on the third day, that we might be assured of our salvation and await Your return in the sure hope of life everlasting, Graciously keep us unto that Day. Amen.

 

From the Lutheran Confessions

The Smalcald Articles

THE THIRD PART OF THE ARTICLES

Part III, Article IV. Of the Gospel.

We will now return to the Gospel, which not merely in one way gives us counsel and aid against sin; for God is superabundantly rich [and liberal] in His grace [and goodness]. First, through the spoken Word by which the forgiveness of sins is preached [He commands to be preached] in the whole world; which is the peculiar office of the Gospel. Secondly, through Baptism. Thirdly, through the holy Sacrament of the Altar. Fourthly, through the power of the keys, and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, Matt. 18:20: Where two or three are gathered together, etc.

Part III, Article V. Of Baptism.

1] Baptism is nothing else than the Word of God in the water, commanded by His institution, or, as Paul says, a washing in the Word; as also Augustine says: Let the Word come to the element, and it becomes a Sacrament. 2] And for this reason we do not hold with Thomas and the monastic preachers [or Dominicans] who forget the Word (God’s institution) and say that God has imparted to the water a spiritual power, which through the water washes away sin. 3] Nor [do we agree] with Scotus and the Barefooted monks [Minorites or Franciscan monks], who teach that, by the assistance of the divine will, Baptism washes away sins, and that this ablution occurs only through the will of God, and by no means through the Word or water.

4] Of the baptism of children we hold that children ought to be baptized. For they belong to the promised redemption made through Christ, and the Church should administer it [Baptism and the announcement of that promise] to them.

Part III, Article VI. Of the Sacrament of the Altar.

1] Of the Sacrament of the Altar we hold that bread and wine in the Supper are the true body and blood of Christ, and are given and received not only by the godly, but also by wicked Christians.

2] And that not only one form is to be given. [For] we do not need that high art [specious wisdom] which is to teach us that under the one form there is as much as under both, as the sophists and the Council of Constance teach. 3] For even if it were true that there is as much under one as under both, yet the one form only is not the entire ordinance and institution [made] ordained and commanded by Christ. 4] And we especially condemn and in God’s name execrate those who not only omit both forms but also quite autocratically [tyrannically] prohibit, condemn, and blaspheme them as heresy, and so exalt themselves against and above Christ, our Lord and God [opposing and placing themselves ahead of Christ], etc.

5] As regards transubstantiation, we care nothing about the sophistical subtlety by which they teach that bread and wine leave or lose their own natural substance, and that there remain only the appearance and color of bread, and not true bread. For it is in perfect agreement with Holy Scriptures that there is, and remains, bread, as Paul himself calls it, 1 Cor. 10:16: The bread which we break. And 1 Cor. 11:28: Let him so eat of that bread.

 

Bible Study in Preparation for Sunday

Scripture Readings for Sunday are: Psalm 148; Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 1:1 – 2:2; and John 20:19-31. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship on Sunday.

The Sunday Adult Bible Class will continue its study of the book of Hebrews, in chapter eight, verse 8ff.

 

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 Dixie Grant, Dawn Hiebert,Sam Rusch, Bonnie Hawes, Mel Boren and Pastor Moll; for those who have been absent from us, for our extended families and for believers who are alone and have no congregation. Continue to pray for Lutheran congregations and believers around the world who are persecuted or suffering for their faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Events and Announcements

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.

 

[Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

What do you expect to find? Mark 16

“Do not be amazed. You seek Jesus the Nazarene who has been crucified. He was raised. He is not here. See the place where they put Him?” Mark 16:6 (Read Mark 16:1-16)

The women – Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome – came to the tomb very early Sunday morning expecting to find death. They came to anoint Jesus’ dead body and were wondering who would roll away the great stone from the doorway of the tomb so they could deal with Jesus’ death and decay with spices and ointments.

But what did they find? The large stone had already been rolled back from the entrance of the tomb. And inside the tomb they saw no body, but an angel sitting on the right side. They were amazed.

The angel said to them, ““Do not be amazed. You seek Jesus the Nazarene who has been crucified. He was raised. He is not here. See the place where they put Him?”

They came expecting death, but instead they found life. They came to anoint the dead and decaying body of Jesus, but instead they found that Jesus’ body was not decaying in the tomb (Ps. 16:10); He was raised and alive! Jesus later appeared to them (Matt. 28:9; John 20:1-18), to Peter, to two on the road to Emmaus and to the rest of His disciples (Luke 24:1ff.; 1 Cor. 15:1ff.).

Why have you come today? What do you expect to find? Have you come to anoint the dead body of Jesus – to memorialize Him in some way for His holy life and His innocent sufferings and death? You won’t find Him in the tomb. Instead of finding death, you’ll find life.

You won’t have to roll a stone away; it’s already rolled back. You won’t have to anoint a dead body; He’s not dead but alive, raised from the dead on the third day, as He promised. He’s not moldering in some tomb outside of Jerusalem; He’s risen, glorified and at God’s right hand reigning over all things!

And what does that mean for you and for me? It means His death was full payment for the sins of all the world. “Our Lord Jesus … was delivered because our offenses and was raised because of our justification” (Rom. 4:24,25). In Him we have forgiveness!

It means the cemetery won’t be the place to come looking for us on the Last Day. Our graves too will be empty because Christ Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again, will raise us up. He is the firstfruit of those who sleep (1 Cor. 15:20-23). As He said, “Because I live, you also shall live” (John 14:19). He is preparing us an eternal dwelling place in His Father’s house and will soon come and take us to be with Him forever! Cf. 1 Thess. 4:13ff.

We thank You, dearest Lord Jesus, for going to the cross in our stead and rising up again that we too might be raised up on the Last Day to life everlasting. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Scripture quotations from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.

Sermon Outline for April 5, 2012

Why no Passover meal tonight as many churches have?

What we know of Passover is in Exodus 12, unsure of origins or time of some other traditions.

Main element in Passover meal missing since destruction of temple – no sacrificial lamb!

Why observe O.T. Passover with no lamb when we are given in the Lord’s Supper to partake of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)?

What do we observe here tonight? (Cf. Mark 14:12-26 and Read v. 22-24)

During Passover meal, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to His disciples saying, “Take, eat, this is my body.”

He also took the cup (the cup of blessing), gave thanks, and gave it to His disciples, with all drinking from it, saying, “This is My blood, that of the New Covenant, which is poured out concerning many.” Matthew 26:28 clarifies this for us by telling us that Jesus’ blood, offered and given here, was “concerning many … being poured out for remission of sins.”

What does Jesus offer and give to us in His Supper?

He gives us bread and wine to eat and to drink, but He also gives us to partake of Him, our Passover Lamb who gave His body into death and shed His blood on the cross to win for us and for all forgiveness of sins and deliverance from God’s just condemnation.

It is His body given for us (Luke 22:19) and His blood of the New Covenant shed for us through which there is forgiveness of God and life everlasting.

How do we partake of Christ’s sacrifice – of His body and blood given and shed for us?

Not capernaitic eating and drinking (as Luther says) – don’t chew his body with our teeth or swallow and digest His body and blood, but we receive it in a supernatural and special way which Luther called sacramental eating and drinking because it occurs only in the Sacrament.

Luther uses the words “in, with and under” to explain that, when we receive the bread and wine in the Sacrament, Christ also gives us to partake of His body and blood.

How can this be? I cannot explain it. I can only take Jesus at His word that, in His Supper, He gives us to partake of His sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world. His blood, that of the New Covenant, is upon us and we have forgiveness for all our sins and a place in His everlasting kingdom.

It is foolish to dispute over how the real presence occurs or at what moment, or what happens to consecrated elements not eaten or drunk.

Point is that Jesus, here, in the Supper to be observed in remembrance of Him and to proclaim His death until He comes (cf. 1 Cor. 11:23ff.), offers and gives to us to partake of His body and blood given and shed for us for the remission of our sins.

Can one be saved without partaking of the Lord’s Supper?

John 6:47-58 says it is necessary to partake of Christ’s flesh and blood – to partake of the Bread of Life – in order to be saved. This, however, was not a reference to the Lord’s Supper, which was not yet given, but to partaking of Jesus and His sacrifice for the sins of the world in faith. Apart from faith in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, one cannot be saved.

The Lord’s Supper, along with Baptism and the Word of God, are means whereby God offers, gives and assures to us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life which Jesus won for us by holy life and innocent sufferings and death upon the cross.

One can partake of Christ’s sacrifice in faith through the hearing of the Gospel in the Word and receiving the “bathing (or washing) of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). However, having no desire to partake of Christ’s Supper is evidence of not having faith in Jesus and His sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Does Jesus offer and give His body and blood in the Sacrament only to those who receive it in faith?

No, He offers and gives His body and blood, together with the blessings of forgiveness and life, to all who partake of His Supper – those who receive the Sacrament in faith are assured of forgiveness for all their sins and life everlasting, but those who receive His Supper without faith receive the Sacrament to their condemnation because they reject the gracious working of the Holy Spirit and treat the body and blood of Jesus by which they were redeemed as an unholy thing (cf. 1 Cor. 11:23ff.; Heb. 10:26-31).

This is also true of those who reject the Word of God or God’s gracious working through Baptism (cf. 2 Peter 2:20-22; Jude 3ff.).

How should we examine and prepare ourselves before coming to the Lord’s Table?

Q. 324 in 1941 Catechism explains: “We should examine ourselves to see -

Whether we truly repent of our sins;

Whether we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior;

Whether we have the good and earnest purpose with the aid of God the Holy Spirit henceforth to amend our sinful lives.”

Do we know and acknowledge that we have sinned and are deserving of God’s wrath and eternal punishment on account of our sins (1 John 1:7-10)?

Do we believe that Jesus died for our sins and made full atonement and that in Him we have forgiveness (1 John 2:1-2)?

Do we purpose, with the help and aid of God’s Spirit, to amend our sinful ways and live for Christ according to His Word (cf. 2 Cor. 5:15; Luke 3:7-8).

Do you believe that Christ, in His Supper offers and gives to You to partake of His body and blood – of His sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world?

If answer is No, consider what God says in His Word of our lost and sinful condition, examine ourselves in light of His holy commandments and repent, looking to Jesus and His sacrifice for pardon and peace,

If answer is Yes, come, receive the bread and wine, remembering how Christ Jesus died for you. Partake of His body and blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of all your sins which He offers and gives to you to assure you of the forgiveness won for You and which is yours under the New Covenant sealed in His blood. Come away in faith, believing and taking comfort in the fact that in Him You have forgiveness and in Him you have life everlasting!

Amen.