Worship at Good Shepherd on May 28, 2017.

For those who missed today’s worship service, it may be viewed at the link below. The bulletin is also available below the service. The sermon text was from Philippians 2:5-11. The theme was “Let this mind be in you.”

Video Distribution

2017.05.28-bulletin

‘Let this mind be in you….’

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11

The apostle Paul here tells us as Christians that we who trust in Him should follow His example and humble ourselves now, trusting that God will also raise us up and exalt us to reign with Christ Jesus after we have suffered a while in this world. But in these words, the apostle teaches us much about the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Lord Jesus is true God, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and He would not be taking undue honor to Himself to be equal with God. Indeed, He is the eternal Son of God through whom God created the heavens and the earth and gave to man life, both spiritual and physical (cf. Gen. 1:26-27; 2:7; John 1:1-5).

Yet, this same Lord Jesus, true God with the Father and the Spirit, took on our nature and was born a true man, “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary” (Apostle’s Creed). And not only did Jesus not make full use of His divine attributes – his divine power, knowledge, glory, etc. – and live humbly as a man in this world, “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” “He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried” (Apostle’s Creed).

And why did He do this? Why did God the Son take on human flesh and blood, live humbly as a man in this world and then suffer and die upon the cross? That He might make atonement for our sins and redeem us from sin, death and the power of the devil (cf. Isaiah 53:5-6; John 1:29; Hebrews 2:14-17; 4:15; 7:26-27; Galatians 3:10,13; 4:4-5; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Luther explains this in his explanation to the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own, and 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.”

The eternal Son of God humbled Himself and became man and suffered and died upon the cross that you and I might be redeemed and become His own – that through faith in Him and His shed blood, we might be forgiven and restored to fellowship with God our Maker. That we might become a part of Christ’s eternal kingdom and dwell in the presence of God forever (cf. John 3:16-17; Colossians 1:19-23; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God the Father, a position of power and glory in which He rules over all and works to build His Church and establish His kingdom (cf. Acts 1:9; Luke 24:51; Ephesians 1:15-23; 4:8-16; Psalm 2; 110:1; Colossians 2:13-15; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

And what does God’s Word call upon us to do? To have the same mind as Christ Jesus: to humble ourselves in this world – to sacrifice our lives in this world – that those for whom Christ died and shed His holy and precious blood might hear the Gospel of forgiveness and life in Jesus’ name and repent, looking to Jesus and His cross for pardon and forgiveness. Indeed, that is what Jesus calls us to do as His redeemed, to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature (cf. Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8).

And as Jesus humbled Himself and was exalted, so we are assured that we who humble ourselves and trust in Christ will be exalted with Him. The Bible promises us that we will be receive a crown of life and reign with Him forever and ever (cf. 2 Timothy 2:11-12; Revelation 2:10; 22:5).

“Let this mind be in you….” Amen.

O Dearest Lord Jesus, we thank and praise You for humbling Yourself, taking on our nature and going to the cross to redeem us and make us Your own. Grant that we have the same mind in us, that we humble ourselves and trust in You and then live our lives for You that others, too, might hear of You and the salvation You won for all. Keep us in the true and saving faith until we are exalted to reign with You in heaven. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Jesus is still with us!

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:15-18

On Thursday, believers around the world remember and celebrate the ascension of Jesus — His visible ascent into heaven (Acts 1:1-12) and His exultation to the right hand of God the Father (Eph. 1:19-23), a position of power and glory in which he rules over all things for the good of His Church (made up of all who trust in Christ Jesus for forgiveness of sins and life eternal). But has He left us? Are we now on our own?

We remember Jesus’ words to his disciples before his ascension, when He gave them His great commission to disciple the nations by going out, baptizing in the name of the Triune God and teaching them to observe all that He had taught and commanded: “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). And in the Gospel of John, Jesus told His disciples: “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” Jesus also said, in John 14:23: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”

But how does Jesus come to us and abide with us? Jesus explains: “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” Jesus promises us to pray for us and to give us another Helper (παρακλητον in the Greek, meaning one who is called along side of us and advocates, consoles and helps us). This Helper is the the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth whom the world does not know or recognize but whom believers know for He is the one who revealed to them the truth and brought them to faith in Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior of the world. He continues to teach us and open up to us the Scriptures (John 14:26).

The Holy Spirit is given to believers when they come to faith in Christ, in their Baptism — Titus 3:4-7: “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Cf. Acts 2:38-39; Gal. 3:26-27; John 3:5-6; Eph. 1:13-14; Col. 2:11ff.

Therefore, we are not alone or left to ourselves as believers. Jesus gives to us His Holy Spirit to sanctify and keep us in the true faith unto life everlasting. And, when the Spirit dwells in us, so also the Father and the Son dwell in us and with us. We are assured that “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

It is, as Jesus said, to our advantage that He ascended to the right hand of God the Father (cf. John 16:7ff.), for He has sent us His Holy Spirit to dwell in us and preserve us in the saving faith unto life everlasting!

We thank You, dear Lord Jesus, that You have not abandoned or forsaken us but have given to us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to teach us, guide us, uphold us and keep us in the true faith until You come again in glory to receive us to Yourself. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Let’s redeem the time we have left!

“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.” 1 Peter 4:1-3

The biggest regret in my life is wasted time – time spent on my own selfish pursuits rather than doing the will of God and honoring Christ, who shunned sin and evil and then suffered and died to bear the full punishment for all my sins that I might be pardoned and forgiven and have a place in His everlasting kingdom. It’s not that I spent my time in lewdness, drunkenness or partying; rather, it’s that I could have spent so much more time reading and studying His Word, praying, evangelizing and bearing witness to my Savior. Instead of walking in the way led by God’s Spirit, I so often walked in the way which was desired of my weak sinful nature and failed so many times to bear witness to Christ and to testify against what is sin.

The apostle Paul reminds us: “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:14-15). Christ’s death for sin was our death and, as He is risen from the dead and lives to God, so we who trust in Him are alive from the dead and live for Him who died for us and rose again (cf. Rom. 6:1ff).

As such, we can expect to suffer with Christ in this world. After all, the world does not wish to hear the warnings of God’s Law and rejects the comforts of the Gospel. People do not wish to hear of their sinfulness and of God’s judgment upon sin; and they do not wish to turn to Christ for pardon and forgiveness because that would entail, as a fruit of faith, following Christ and walking in accord with His will and teaching. And so, rather than hearing the truth, the world would silence those who bear witness to the truth (cf. 1 Pet. 4:12ff.; John 15:18ff.; 2 Tim. 3:12; Matt. 5:10-12).

If we walk in the ways of this world, the people of this world will accept us and welcome us. If we cease living in sin and live for Christ, the world will wonder what’s wrong with us and speak evil of us for not going along with its evil ways (cf. 1 Pet. 4:4f.).

Indeed, if we examine ourselves honestly, haven’t we wasted enough time already walking according to the ways of this world? Haven’t we spent enough of our past lives in the ways of the unbelieving? That is why Christ died for us and redeemed us, winning for us God’s pardon!

Since we have God’s pardon and forgiveness through faith in Christ, let’s use the time we have left in this world to live for Him who died for our sins and rose again! Let’s redeem the time and follow the leading of God’s Spirit in His Word (cf. Eph. 5:15ff.)!

Dear Lord Jesus, grant that we trust in You and Your cross for pardon and forgiveness and then, as a fruit of our faith, quit wasting our time but live our lives for You and to the honor of Your name. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Are you one of Jesus’ sheep?

For those unable to attend worship this morning at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Rogers, the service may be viewed below. A link to the bulletin is also below. The sermon was on John 10 and focused on what Jesus has done as our Good Shepherd and whether we are Jesus’ sheep and hear His voice.

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Do you hear His voice?

“But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:26-28 (Read v. 1-31)

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He gave His life for the sheep when He suffered and died on the cross for the sins of the world and rose again in victory (v. 11,17-18). But not all believe on Him as their Savior. Many do not hear His voice calling them to repent and look to Him for pardon, forgiveness and life eternal. They do not hear and recognize His voice and follow Him as do His sheep (v. 3-5). Do you hear Jesus calling, recognize His voice and follow Him? Are you one of Jesus’ sheep? (cf. v.14).

What Has Jesus accomplished for all His sheep – even for the whole world? He gave His life for the sheep! “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Jesus, as our sacrifice, made full atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole world (cf. 1 John 2:1-2).

And Jesus, our crucified and risen Savior, calls to us and offers to us forgiveness and life in His name. He seeks us out as a good shepherd does his lost and wondering sheep. Through the word of His Law, He shows us our sinful and erring ways and the end result – eternal death and everlasting punishment (cf. 2 Thess. 1:7-9). And, through the word of His Gospel, He calls to us and offers to us pardon and life, green pastures, still waters and the protection of His rod and staff (cf. Psalm 23; John 10:1ff.; 10:9-10; Isaiah 40:11).

But not all recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd. Those intent on going their own ways, following their own paths and choosing their own pastures and filthy watering holes do not listen to His voice or recognize Him as the Son of God and their anointed Savior. They reject Jesus and the life He offers and gives, even accusing Him of blasphemy (cf. v 25ff.).

Jesus’ sheep – those graciously predestined and chosen of God – hear Jesus calling in His Word, the Bible (v. 27-28). By the Holy Spirit’s working, they come to recognize Jesus’ voice as the voice of God calling them to repent of their wandering ways and look to Jesus, the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep and redeemed them. They hear His voice and follow Him, knowing that He will keep them in the true and saving faith unto life everlasting.

No one is able to snatch them from Jesus’ hand; for the Father, who is greater than all (and Jesus and the Father are one), will keep them and preserve them in the faith unto the everlasting joys of heaven (cf. v. 28-30; Rev. 7:1-17; Phil. 1:6; Rom. 8:28ff.; 2 Tim. 4:18).

Dear Lord Jesus, grant that we hear Your voice calling to us and recognize and follow You as our Good Shepherd and Savior. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Can churches and ministers forgive sins?

“So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” John 20:21-23

“Who can forgive sins but God alone?” was the question in the mind of scribes and Pharisees when Jesus announced forgiveness to the paralytic man (Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21). And it often is raised today when people hear Lutheran ministers, in the name of Christ, forgive the sins of their parishioners. But, in our text, Jesus sends out His disciples, gives them His Holy Spirit, and says to them: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Having suffered and died to make atonement for the sins of the world and having risen again from the dead in triumph, Jesus now commanded His disciples to go out into the world and proclaim forgiveness of sins in His name to the penitent and the retention of sins to all who do not repent and look to Jesus in faith (Cf. Luke 24:45ff.).

We often speak of this power to forgive and to retain sins as the Office of the Keys because it opens and closes the gates of heaven to hearers. After Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, and Jesus’ words to Peter about building His church upon the rock of this truth (Matthew 16:15ff.), Jesus said to Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). This passage literally says: “Whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound (Greek future, perfect, passive) in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed (future, perfect, passive) in heaven.” It proclaims to people the verdict of God, that their sins are forgiven and heaven is open to them for Christ’s sake or that they have no forgiveness of God and are under His wrath until they repent and look to Christ Jesus in faith.

We know these keys were given, not only to Peter, but to all of the apostles, for Jesus “breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” But these keys were given not only to the apostles, but to the church of Jesus Christ, which is made up of all who trust in Jesus for forgiveness of sins and life eternal (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2; 5:1-5; Matthew 18:17-18), and to individual members of the church (Matthew 18:15-16; Luke 17:3-4). Ministers are called by the local gathering of Christ’s church to administer the keys on their behalf and in accord with God’s Word (1 Corinthians 3:5ff.; 4:1-2; 2 Corinthians 2:10; Ephesians 4:11ff.; Acts 1:21ff.; 6:5ff.; 14:23 – χειροτονησαντες means to elect by a show of hands; Titus 1:5ff.).

Rightly using these keys is an awesome responsibility, for they open or close the kingdom of heaven by proclaiming to some the forgiveness of sins and to others that their sins are not forgiven. The use of these keys is not to be taken lightly but with great care and diligence so as not to misapply God’s Word to people and bring about their eternal ruin and bring God’s wrath upon us.

Luther’s Catechism states: The Office of the keys “is the peculiar church power which Christ has given to His Church on earth to forgive the sins of penitent sinners unto them, but to retain the sins of the impenitent as long as they do not repent” (A Short Exposition of Dr. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, 1912, CPH, Page 133). And, even when we retain sins, it is with the hope and desire that the lost sinner will repent and turn to Christ.

These keys are used each Sunday in our services (as well as in private) when the called minister, in the stead of the congregation of believers and in the name of Christ, proclaims God’s forgiveness to those who repent, confessing their sins before God and one another and seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness for the sake of Jesus Christ and His innocent sufferings and death in their stead (cf. James 5:16; Acts 3:19; Psalms 32 and 51; 1 John 1:7 – 2:2). And it happens when individual believers admonish and forgive the penitent, or when the church excludes an impenitent sinner until he repents (Matthew 18:15-18; Luke 17:3-4). And truly it occurs whenever ministers proclaim God’s Law and its judgments upon sin and His Gospel of mercy and forgiveness for the sake of Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world (Luke 24:46-47; Mark 16:15-16).

Note that Jesus first breathed on His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” and then gave them the keys. And how important this is! For without the working of the Holy Spirit, one could not himself repent and receive forgiveness through faith in Christ, much less rightly apply God’s Word of Law and Gospel to others.

Jesus has given to us, His Church in this place, the keys of the kingdom. And He has given us His Holy Spirit that we might rightly forgive the sins of penitent sinners but retain the sins of the impenitent as long as they do not repent. God grant that we rightly use and apply these keys!

O crucified and risen Savior, give to our minister and to us as members of Your Church the spiritual understanding and wisdom to rightly divide Your Word and proclaim forgiveness for the sake of Your shed blood to penitent sinners and wrath and judgment upon those who remain impenitent and unbelieving. We pray in Your name. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

 
The following are excerpts from the 1912 Concordia Publishing House publication: A Short Exposition of Dr. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism which was authorized by the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference.

What is Confession?
Confession embraces two parts: one is that we confess our sins; the other, that we receive absolution, or forgiveness, from the confessor, as from God Himself, and in no wise doubt, but firmly believe, that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.

What sins should we confess?
Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even of those which we do not know, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer; but before the confessor we should confess those sins only which we know and feel in our hearts.

But how is it with confession before the confessor?
No one should indeed be forced or urged to private confession; but in it a Christian obtains the comfort that to him especially absolution is pronounced, and on such occasion he may ask remission of such particular sins as may above others weigh upon his heart and burden his conscience.

What, then, do you believe according to these words?
I believe that when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, especially when they exclude manifest and impenitent sinners from the Christian congregation, and, again, when they absolve those who repent of their sins and are willing to amend, this is as valid and certain, in heaven also, as if Christ, our dear Lord, dealt with us Himself.