Nature, Rocks and Miracles
1 hour ago
What I’m wondering about is the “prayer is not a means of grace.” I’ve heard this plenty before. But. Whenever prayer is right and scriptural we should believe that we will receive. In that sense it is not work but receiving from the Word. Such as “Forgive us our trespasses.” Every day we can pray this (daily bread) and expect to be forgiven again, as it is a right prayer, straight from Christ’s mouth.
Jim Pierce in yesterday’s interview (Issues, etc.) also said, that the liturgy “sings forgiveness” to him. When growing up the theology was highly variable from preacher to preacher, but I got my bearings from the Lutheran hymns and Bach Cantatas. Bach wrote in his Bible how great songs brought in the Spirit. Of course, this would be via the Word.
Another one: every night we prayed: “Deine Gnad und Jesu Blut machen allen Schaden gut.” "Your grace and the blood of Jesus, make all the damage good.” (it rhymes in
German). This is the most memorable Gospel to me.
First, he must know what he should and shouldn't do. Second, when he sees that he isn't able to do good or refrain from doing evil in his own strength, he must know where he can find the strength. Third, he must know where he should look for this strength. It's similar to being sick. To begin with, a sick person needs to know what his illness is and what he can and cannot do. After that, he needs to know where he can find the medicine that will make him well. Finally, he must want this medicine, obtain it, or have someone bring it to him. So the Ten Commandments teach a person to recognize his illness. They help him see why he cannot do or refrain from doing. They help him see himself as a sinner. Then, the Apostle's Creed shows him were he can find the medicine--the grace--to help him become faithful so that he can keep the commandments. The Apostle's Creed points out that God and his mercy is offered in Christ. Finally, the Lord's Prayer teaches a believer how to desire and obtain all this through orderly and humble prayer. In this way, he will receive the cure and be saved. (my emphasis)
The Small Catechism bids us to begin each day and to end each day with the sign of the holy cross. Thus each day is set to be lived in our Baptism, which incorporated us with the death and resurrection of Jesus. At Baptism the cross, the abbreviated name of God, was done on us. Where His name is, there is the Lord. Where His doxa is, there is the Lord. His doxa, His chavod, locates Him.
The Lord is, of course, everywhere. But is He there for you? Is He anywhere for you? Today's Gospel says yes. Jesus says there is a place where I am there for you. The cross is the doxa point, and it has time/location--"under Pontius Pilate," we say. Jesus said, "The hour is come, that the son of man should be glorified.... but for this cause came I unto this hour" (John 12:23-27). This is an enthronement word, and His throne is the cross. That is the doxa point. "Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God and there is no other." There is God. There for you, and not only for you but also for everyone. Or, better still, for everyone and also for you. No "just me and Jesus." Yet "for all men" can fly past us, as can the "for you"--the delivery--done by the means of grace.
As Doctor Luther says, "the Gospel is not Christ." The Gospel is the proclamation of Christ. The proclamation of Christ is the proclamation of the cross, the proclamation of the cross for you. Thus the delivery of the cross and with it all that was there achieved for you that day long ago. We are not back there. Nor need we attempt to get back there with some sort of getting contemporary with it.
Our Lord is not back there today, but here, where He is having His words spoken, the words that deliver Him. Doctor Luther said if you want your sins forgiven, don't go to Calvary. There forgiveness was won for you, but there it is not given out. You go to the Lord's Supper. There forgiveness is not won for you, but there it is given out. The Lord's Supper has always a specific place and time. For there to be a delivery to us, it cannot be otherwise. We go on only as we are located at a particular place and time. The Lord has appointed the place and time for the delivery of His gifts, means of grace, externum verbum. And so gifts, that is, from Him to you by way of located words, water, wine, and bread.
Therefore, I advise and exhort as before that with warning and threatening, restraint and punishment, the children should be trained early to shun falsehood. They should especially avoid the use of God's name to support falsehood. For where children are allowed to do as they please, no good will result. This is clear even now. The world is worse than it has ever been, and there is no government, no obedience, no loyalty, no faith, but only daring, unbridled people. No teaching or reproof helps them. All this is God's wrath and punishment for our lewd contempt of this commandment...
Look, we could train our youth this way [Proverbs 22:6], in a childlike way and playfully in the fear and honor of God. Then the First and Second Commandments might be well kept and in constant practice. Then some good might take root, spring up, and bear fruit. People would grow up whom an entire land might relish and enjoy. In addition, this would be the true way to bring up children well as long as they could be trained with kindness and delight. For children who must be forced with rods and blows will not develop into a good generation. At best they will remain godly under such treatment only as long as the rod is upon their backs [Proverbs 10:13]
But teaching the commandments in a childlike and playful way spreads its roots in the heart so that children fear God more than rods and clubs. This I say with such simplicity for the sake of the young, that it may penetrate their minds. For we are preaching to children, so we must also talk like them. In this way we would prevent the abuse of the divine name and teach the right use. This should happen not only in words, but also practice and life. Then we may know God is well pleased with this and will as richly reward good use of His name as He will terribly punish the abuse.
Beware of this: The poor man will come to you (there are so many now). He must buy things with the penny of his daily wages and live upon it. When you are harsh to him, as though everyone lived by your favor, and you skin and scrape him to the bone, and when you turn him away with pride and arrogance to whom you ought to give things without payment, he will go away wretched and sorrowful. since he can complaint no one else, he will cry and call to heaven [Psalm 20:6; 146: 8-9]. Then beware, I say again, as of the devil himself. For such groaning and calling will be no joke. It will have a weight that will prove too heavy for you and all the world. For it will reach Him who takes care of the poor, sorrowful hearts. He will not allow them to go unavenged [Isaiah 61:1-3]. but if you despise this and become defiant, see the One you have brought upon you. If you succeed and prosper, before all the world, you may call God and me a liar.And the other one.
Whoever now seeks and desires good works will find here more than enough to do that are heartily acceptable and pleasing to God. In addition, they are favored and crowned with excellent blessings. So we are to be richly compensated for all that we do for our neighbor's good and from friendship. King Solomon also teaches this in Proverbs 19:17, "Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his deed." Here, then , you have a rich Lord. He is certainly enough for you. He will not allow you to come up short in anything or to lack [Psalm 37:25]. So you can with a joyful conscience enjoy a hundred times more than you could scrape together with unfaithfulness and wrong. Now, whoever does not desire this blessing will find enough wrath and misfortune.
ESSENTIALS OF THE BIBLE
You know the commandments: Never commit adultery. Never murder. Never steal. Never give false testimony. Honor your father and your mother. LUKE 18: 20
God has so ordered matters so that a Christian who might not be able to read the Bible should still learn the Ten Commandments, the Apostle's Creed, and the Lord's Prayer. The essentials of Scripture and everything else a Christian needs to know are summed up in these three. They are written so briefly and clearly that no one has an excuse. No one should complain that it's too much or too difficult. In essence, a person only has to know three things to be saved.
First, he must know what he should and shouldn't do. Second, when he sees that he isn't able to do good or refrain from doing evil in his own strength, he must know where he can find the strength. Third, he must know where he should look for this strength. It's similar to being sick. To begin with, a sick person needs to know what his illness is and what he can and cannot do. After that, he needs to know where he can find the medicine that will make him well. Finally, he must want this medicine, obtain it, or have someone bring it to him. So the Ten Commandments teach a person to recognize his illness. They help him see why he cannot do or refrain from doing. They help him see himself as a sinner. Then, the Apostle's Creed shows him were he can find the medicine--the grace--to help him become faithful so that he can keep the commandments. The Apostle's Creed points out that God and his mercy is offered in Christ. Finally, the Lord's Prayer teaches a believer how to desire and obtain all this through orderly and humble prayer. In this way, he will receive the cure and be saved.