The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
(28 January 2018)
Deuteronomy 18:15–20; Ps. 111:1-10; 1 Corinthians 8:1–13; Mark 1:21–28
Of the Day: LSB 541 “Away from Us!” the Demon Cried
Offertory: LSB 842 Son of God, Eternal Savior
Distribution: LSB 754 Entrust Your Days and Burdens;
Our Lord Jesus Christ, True God in the Flesh, Cleanses Our Consciences from Sin
As He promised, the Lord our God has raised up “a prophet” like Moses, namely Jesus, our brother in the flesh. “To him you shall listen,” because the Word of the Lord is “in his mouth” (Deut. 18:15–18). Indeed, He is more than a prophet and more than a scribe of the Scriptures; He is the incarnate Word, and He speaks “a new teaching with authority” (Mark 1:22, 27). He enters “the synagogue” of His Church and provides true Sabbath rest, using His authority to silence and cast out “even the unclean spirits” (Mark 1:21–27). By His Word of the cross, He removes the accusations of the Law and of the devil, and He cleanses our consciences before God the Father, “from whom are all things and for whom we exist.” Hence, we are now set free from bondage and commended to God by the one Lord, Jesus Christ, “through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Cor. 8:6). Therefore, use your freedom to care for your brothers and sisters, neither causing them to stumble nor wounding their consciences (1 Cor. 8:9–12), but cleansing and strengthening them with the Gospel.
Worldview Everlasting – Downtime and Secret Demon Strikeouts (Mark 1:21-28)
Jesus begins preaching in today’s text and his audience is shocked and alarmed, and not in a good way! This week on Greek Tuesday, Pastor Fisk goes through Mark 1:21-28 where Jesus begins to assert his authority, but not in the way our flesh expects or wants. No, he has a different way of going about things, which includes telling people to keep it secret! Why this hush hush approach? You’ll have to watch this episode to find out!
Encore: Looking Forward to Sunday Morning (3 Year Lectionary): The 4th Sunday after the Epiphany — Dr. Carl Fickenscher — Issues Etc.
Dr. Carl Fickenscher, Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Ind., discusses the readings and propers with Pr. Todd Wilken on Issues Etc. (mp3, 57:17, 52.5 MB, 2018-Jan-22)
Lectionary Podcast — Epiphany 4 — Dr. John G. Nordling
Dr. John G. Nordling, Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Ind., discusses the Gospel Lesson from the Greek text.
21 Καὶ εἰσπορεύονται εἰς Καφαρναούμ. καὶ ⸀εὐθὺς τοῖς σάββασιν ⸂ἐδίδασκεν εἰς τὴν συναγωγήν⸃.
22 καὶ ἐξεπλήσσοντο ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ, ἦν γὰρ διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων καὶ οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεῖς.
23 καὶ ⸀εὐθὺς ἦν ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ αὐτῶν ἄνθρωπος ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτῳ καὶ ἀνέκραξεν
24 λέγων· ⸀Τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, Ἰησοῦ Ναζαρηνέ; ἦλθες ἀπολέσαι ἡμᾶς; οἶδά σε τίς εἶ, ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ.
25 καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων· Φιμώθητι καὶ ἔξελθε ἐξ αὐτοῦ.
26 καὶ σπαράξαν αὐτὸν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἀκάθαρτον καὶ ⸀φωνῆσαν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ἐξῆλθεν ἐξ αὐτοῦ.
27 καὶ ἐθαμβήθησαν ⸀ἅπαντες, ὥστε συζητεῖν ⸂πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς⸃ λέγοντας· Τί ἐστιν τοῦτο; ⸂διδαχὴ καινή⸃· κατʼ ἐξουσίαν καὶ τοῖς πνεύμασι τοῖς ἀκαθάρτοις ἐπιτάσσει, καὶ ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ.
28 ⸂καὶ ἐξῆλθεν⸃ ἡ ἀκοὴ αὐτοῦ εὐθὺς ⸀πανταχοῦ εἰς ὅλην τὴν περίχωρον τῆς Γαλιλαίας.
(21) And they passed along into Capernaum. And entering into the synagogue, at once He taught on the sabbaths.
(22) And they were astounded at His doctrine, for He was teaching them as having authority, and not as the scribes.
(23) And a man with an unclean spirit was in their synagogue. And he cried out,
(24) saying, What is to us and to You, Jesus, Nazarene? Have You come to destroy us? I know You, who You are, the Holy One of God.
(25) And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Be quiet, and come out of him.
(26) And the unclean spirit convulsing him, and crying out with a loud voice, he came out of him.
(27) And all were astonished, so as to discuss to themselves, saying, What is this? What new teaching is this, that He commands even the unclean spirits with authority, and they obey Him?
(28) And His fame went out at once into all the Galilean neighborhood.
Scripture quotations marked SBLGNT are from the SBL Greek New Testament. Copyright © 2010 Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software. Holmes, M. W. (2011–2013). The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Lexham Press; Society of Biblical Literature.
Today’s conversation covers where authority lies in the church, whether the conscience is still relevant, prattling, raving, crying, and gabbling, and starting with the text and ending with the text. Pr. Jonathan Fisk is the host. Guests Pr. Adam DeGroot, LCMS Domestic Missionary Pastor currently building network support for his call to St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Albequerque, New Mexico, and Pr. Andrew Preus from Trinity Lutheran Church in Guttenberg and St. Paul Lutheran Church in McGregor, Iowa, discuss Francis Pieper’s Christliche Dogmatik, or Christian Dogmatics, so that you know why you believe what you believe so that you will be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks for the hope that you have in the totality of who Jesus is, what Jesus has done, and what Jesus is coming again to do. Find your copy of Pieper’s Dogmatics at cph.org.
Dr. Paul Schilf leads a Midweek Family Bible Study on various topics. The study is held Wednesdays at 6:30 pm. The schedule of topics is:
03-Jan: The Office of the Keys - Catechism Review
10-Jan: No Class
17-Jan: The Office of the Keys - Catechism Review
24-Jan: Baptism - Catechism Review
31-Jan: Baptism - Catechism Review
07-Feb: Lent - Nothing to give up
14-Feb: No Class - Lent
21-Feb: No Class - Lent
28-Feb: No Class - Lent
07-Mar: No Class - Lent
14-Mar: No Class - Lent
21-Mar: No Class - Lent
28-Mar: Same Gender Marriage
04-Apr: Same Gender Marriage
11-Apr: Same Gender Marriage
18-Apr: Same Gender Marriage
25-Apr: 3 Powerful Hymns
02-May: Stress & Sin
09-May: Highlights of the Divine Service
16-May: Highlights of the Divine Service
23-May: Luther on Prayer
4801 E. 6th St
Christ Lutheran Church is a member of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.
9:30 am Divine Service with Lord's Supper (The Lord's Supper is celebrated every Lord's Day and Festival Service)
10:45 am Sunday School and Bible Classes (except August)
Advent and Lenten services: Wednesday, 7:00 pm
Note: Services on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day are held at 9:30 am.
Recorded sermons can be heard here.
UPDATE: The Voters Assembly, at its meeting of December 10, 2017, adopted its 2018 budget, and voted to continue as a member of the Issues, Etc. 300, for the 8th year.
The Voters Assembly at its regular meeting of January 9, 2011, adopted its 2011 budget. As part of its Missions budget is a line item for Issues, Etc. (via Lutheran Public Radio) and has become a member of the Issues, Etc. 300.
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Issues, Etc. Journal, Summer 2017
More than a decade ago I wrote “A Listeners Guide to the Pulpit.” At the time, my goal was simple: I wanted to help the average Christian sitting in the pew to tell the difference between good preaching and bad preaching. I dealt with the most egregious forms of bad preaching I could think of, and I thought I had covered it all. I hadn’t. Since then I have become aware of other kinds of bad preaching, some of which I had engaged in myself. To ﬁll in the gaps and confess to my own bad preaching, I offer this update of the original essay.
Most of the preachers were dynamic, engaging, interesting and even entertaining...
Most of their sermons were terrible.
How hard could it be? You go to church. The preacher preaches. You sit and listen. Easy, right?
But how do you tell the difference between a good sermon and a bad sermon? What makes good preaching good, and bad preaching bad?
For several years Issues, Etc. has been doing on–air sermon reviews. We’ve reviewed the sermons of Joel Osteen, D. James Kennedy, T.D. Jakes, Robert Schuller, Joyce Meyer, and many less well–known preachers. We’ve reviewed the sermons of Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Eastern Orthodox, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, and others. Most of these preachers were speaking to packed auditoriums and to worldwide television audiences. Most of the preachers were dynamic, engaging, interesting, and even entertaining. Most of the preachers are considered the best of the best preachers in the world.
Most of their sermons were terrible.
I don’t make this judgment based on my own subjective tastes or my own personal standard. I make this judgment based on the objective difference between good preaching and bad preaching.
Is there an objective standard for good preaching? Yes. It is a standard every Christian should know and use every time they hear a sermon. Every Christian needs to know the difference between a good sermon and a bad sermon.
God’s Two Teachings
St. Paul writes to the young preacher Timothy, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). Paul says that God’s Word of truth must be handled with care. To rightly divide God’s Word is the preacher’s ﬁrst and most important task. Nineteenth–century theologian, C.F.W. Walther describes what Paul means in his famous treatise, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel:
The doctrinal contents of the entire Holy Scriptures, both of the Old and the New Testament, are made up of two doctrines differing fundamentally from each other; viz.[namely], the Law and the Gospel … Only he is an orthodox teacher who not only presents all the articles of faith in accordance with Scripture, but also rightly distinguished from each other the Law and the Gospel. (C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1928, pp. 6 http://www.lutherantheology.com/uploads/works/walther/LG/lecture-01.html, 30 http://www.lutherantheology.com/uploads/works/walther/LG/lecture-04.html.)
Walther was simply following the leader of the sixteenth-century reformer Martin Luther. Luther explained this critical distinction between God’s Law and God’s Gospel and the danger of ignoring it:
It is therefore a matter of utmost necessity that these two kinds of God’s Word be well and properly distinguished. Where this is not done, neither the Law nor the Gospel can be understood, and the consciences of men must perish with blindness and error. The Law has its goal fixed beyond which it cannot go or accomplish anything, namely, until the point is reached where Christ comes in. It must terrify the impenitent with threats of the wrath and displeasure of God. Likewise the Gospel has its peculiar function and task, viz. [namely], to proclaim forgiveness of sin to sorrowing souls. These two may not be commingled, nor the one substituted for the other, without a falsification of doctrine. For while the Law and the Gospel are indeed equally God’s Word, they are not the same doctrine. (Martin Luther, “Sermon on the Distinction Between the Law and the Gospel,” Luther’s Works, St. L. Ed. IX, p. 799.)
Through His Law, God shows us His will. Through His Law, God tells us what He requires and what He forbids. Through His Law, God demands perfect obedience in thought, word and deed. Through His Law, God shows us that we have not done what He requires and have done what He forbids. Through His Law, God says, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind... You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37, 39). Through His Law, God calls anything short of perfect obedience sin.
Through His Gospel, God tells us what He has done in Jesus Christ to save those who have broken His Law. Through His Gospel, God shows us that Jesus has done everything He required of us by His Law. Through His Gospel, God shows us that Jesus has been punished under the Law in our place. Through His Gospel, God answers the perfect demands of His Law with the perfect, sinless death and resurrection of Jesus. The Gospel says, “What the Law could not do in that it was weak through the ﬂesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful ﬂesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the ﬂesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulﬁlled in us” (Rom. 8:3–4).Through His Gospel, God answers the requirements of His Law with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus for us. Through His Gospel, God makes no demands whatsoever. There is only the free gift of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.
What does this have to do with difference between a good sermon and a bad sermon? Everything. The essential difference between a good sermon and a bad sermon is whether or not the preacher rightly divides and applies God's Law and God’s Gospel. A good sermon must show sinners their sin and show sinners their Savior. Again Luther writes:
This difference between the Law and the Gospel is the height of knowledge in Christendom. Every person and all persons who assume or glory in the name of Christian should know and be able to state this difference. If this ability is lacking, one cannot tell a Christian from a heathen or a Jew; of such supreme importance is this differentiation. This is why St. Paul so strongly insists on a clean–cut and proper differentiating of these two doctrines. (Martin Luther, Sermon on Galatians, 1532.)
So these two, Law and Gospel, must always go together in every sermon. They must be carefully divided in every sermon. God's Law must show us our sin, and God's Gospel must silence the Law’s accusations against us with the perfect life, death and resurrection of Jesus for us.
This is not to say that a good sermon will ONLY do this. Good preaching, according to Paul, does many things: It rebukes, reproves, admonishes, corrects, comforts, encourages, trains and teaches (Rom. 15:14; 1 Cor. 10:11; Col. 1:28; 3:16; 2 Tim. 2:4; 3:16; Titus 1:9). But whatever else good preaching does, it must above all rightly condemn us on account of our sin and declare us innocent on account of Jesus.
That was a Good Sermon?