Sermon: Ascension – 2017
9 hours ago
I have listened to the entire lecture by Larry Feingold. I don’t know anything else about him, but he seems to be a qualified man to speak on the subject. Much of the talk I enjoyed. Much of it I and most Christians can agree with. The background on sacrifices, natural law, OT, the efficacy of the means of grace according to God’s promises, is all very fine.
However, he does not from this many body of the talk repudiate Luther’s view, nor show that the eucharist is not now only a sacrifice of thanksgiving, not blood. He does not bring in scripture passages that deal with how the word “priest” is used in the NT, or what Christ and Paul say about the Lord’s supper. Our Lord is abundantly clear that the supper is a Promise, a Testament, not a sacrifice. Look at the words scripture itself uses, and teaching it teaches.
But Luther gets dragged in here, as a red herring to obfuscate that the RC teaching here is not scripturally underpinned or takes away from Christ’s all sufficient sacrifice, robbing him of his glory, thereby.
Luther did not abolish the Eucharist or the mass, only the abuse of it (have a look at the confessions). Also it is wrong to say that Luther taught that Christ suffered in hell. Again, have a look at the confessions. Feingold calls him in one breath an innovator and heretic, but then alleges teachings he did not hold, and does not explore the false teachings which he deplored. There is no fairness in this. Feingold sounds like a man who should know better. And Cross would also know better, I would expect. The never-ending demands on man’s conscience by requiring repeated masses, ceremonies, sufficient contrition (who can know when he has sufficient contrition?), payments–all never-ending or enough and all for merit and the power of the pope–this is what is being deplored. The right use of the Eucharist is not.
I can bring in all the necessary quotes of scripture and the confessions, if anyone cares to hear them.
Just to follow up with what Luther and Lutherans do confess regarding Christ's descent into hell, without having to change the words or the Apostle's Creed to "limbo of the just" (not scriptural, just in case someone does not know that.)
Luther's response to the conundrum is the proper one, to stick with the creed, to not teach things not contained in the scriptures (apostolic witness), to be faithful to what has been revealed and not speculate on what has not been revealed and then make the teaching binding on consciences. This is what the confession is:
'Even in the Ancient Christian teachers of the Church, as well as among some of our teachers, different explanations of the article about Christ's descent to hell are found. Therefore, we abide in the simplicity of our christian faith. Dr. Luther has pointed us to this in a sermon about Christ's descent to hell, which he delivered in the castle at Torgau in the year 1533. In the Creed we confess, "I believe... in Jesus Christ. His only Son, our Lord, who... was crucified died and was buried. He descended into hell." In this Confession Christ's burial and descent to hell are distinguished as different articles. We simply believe that the entire person (God and man) descended into hell after the burial, conquered the devil, destroyed hell's power, and took from the devil all his might. We should not, however, trouble ourselves with high and difficult thoughts about how this happened. With our reason and our five senses this article can be understood as little as the preceding one about how Christ is placed at the right hand of God's almighty power and majesty. We are simply to believe it and cling to the Word. So we hold to the substance and consolation that neither hell nor the devil can take captive or injure us and all who believe in Christ.'
Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration. Article IX."
Tuesday after the Sunday in the new year.
Come and see. John 1:46
We read here how Jesus called His disciples. He did not ask them what they believed or investigate how they lived. He never had to ask about these things. He knew the answers from the beginning, whether it was righteous men like Nathanael or God's problem children like the Samaritan woman. Neither faith nor deeds were of importance. Jesus had come to help. He came to the sick who needed a healer. That is why He always began by saying, "Follow Me." That meant the same thing as "Come and see." Who is Jesus? What does He desire, and what is He capable of? You can learn these things only from experience. There's no sense in sitting around wondering what is possible or probable. What can you compare it to? Someone like Jesus comes only once. He can't be compared to anything we have known before.
Phillip understood this. When Nathanael wondered if anything good could come from the notorious city of Nazareth, Phillip simply answered, "Come and see." There is no better answer even today, when people come with objections and theories that explain and excuse why they don't have time for Jesus.
The command to come and see pertains to all disciples and throughout life. There's always something new to discover. When Nathanael was impressed and surprised at Jesus' knowledge about him, Jesus said, "You will see greater things than these" (John 1:50). This statement remains true all through life. We will never learn everything. There is always something new to discover. There is only one thing we need to see (and it is necessary): we have to come to see, to constantly return to the gospel and to Jesus Himself, to listen to the Word and speak with God in prayer. We will never cease being astonished over everything that is still to be discovered. And the biggest surprise is yet to come, when we can see Him as He is.
My Lord and Master, I thank You because You let me come and see with my own eyes. Here I come now, Lord. Open my eyes and my heart so I can see. there were so many who saw You and still missed seeing You. Give me an open heart that can receive You and eyes that can see You. Let me follow You so I see with my own eyes and hear all the voices and experience what happened and become one of them who walks with You.
Tyranny: arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.To teach that the pope and only the pope has the ability to forgive or withhold the forgiveness of sins is tyranny. It is tyranny made even more egregious when considering the anguish soul burdened by his sin, burdened by the choices/actions she has made, laboring further beneath the weight of such cruelty,teaching that forgiveness is at the whim of man, not the free gift of God.A while back, I was with a woman who was being held under observation because she had gone a wee bit crazy. Well, actually, she had lost sight of who she was in Christ, became convinced that she was evil and needed to be punished, and set about doing so. She was heartily sorry for what she had done and was quite fearful of the spiritual consequence of her actions. I prayed the Psalter with her and spent time talking about forgiveness, even though sometimes I barely even understand it myself.With great tears welling in her eyes and constant wringing of hands, she told me she was quite certain her Catholic priest was not going to forgive her for what she had done, especially since this was not the first time she had forgotten the truth of who she is in Christ. At least, she said, not until she had worked a long time at the things he would surely set her to do to show herself worthy of that forgiveness. She was weary and worried that she would not have the strength to earn her forgiveness.I tried to tell her that even if her priest, the man, did not offer her forgiveness, the Living Word, one of the means of grace God has given us, had already spoken that forgiveness to her. To my immense sorrow, I watched as her heart quickened at what I was telling her about how God only sees her through Christ and therefore already sees her as forgiven only to then lose hope at the thought of the large penance she would surely be set.Her terror was so great that she could not hear the Gospel I was speaking to her, but she craved the Living Word that fell from my lips into her ears. For hours, she asked me to read another “forgiveness” psalm to her with her name in it as I had done when I first came upon her because she was fearful that she might never have the Word of Absolution spoken to her again.Her anguish…her fear…her despair is exactly why Luther worked so hard to strip out the things of man that had crept into the things of God. The Office of the Keys is an office God gave to the church, not merely to one man or the men beneath his civil authority. The Office of the Keys bestows the very Word of Absolution from Christ Himself because the called and ordained servant is holding the position of undershepherd to our Good Shepherd, upon whose righteousness our forgiveness is based. Yet the Office of the Keys are just one of the means of grace, just one of the ways our Lord bestows forgiveness on His children. He washes us in it. He speaks it in our ears. He places it in our bodies. This is why Luther clung so fiercely to the pure doctrine. For he knew our foe has a serpent’s head. When he finds the smallest opening, the whole body will follow (LC, III, 111).Let not one word--especially the Word of absolution--be distorted, but rather may the pure Gospel be taught and taught so as to point us to the riches God gave us on the cross rather than to the futile dross that is our own effort at earning forgiveness.Smalcald Articles, Part III, Article VII
The KeysThe Keys are an office and power given by Christ to the Church for binding and loosing sin. This applies not only to gross and well-known sins, but also the subtle, hidden sins that are known only to God. As it is written, “Who can discern his errors?” (Psalm 19:12). And St. Paul himself complains that “with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:25). It is not in our power to judge which, how great, and how many the sins are. This belongs to God alone. As it is written, “Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you” (Psalm 143:2). Paul says, I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted” (I Corinthians 4:4).