Here’s a first look at the royal blue and black version of the Compact Edition of The Lutheran Study Bible.
I’m very pleased and happy to report that the project to put Johann Gerhard’s huge Theological Topics into English, his Loci Theologici, is going well and we have released yet another volume, this time the volume on The Church, in all its nearly 900 glorious pages. Throughout this volume, Gerhard is engaging the claims and arguments of the Roman Catholic apologist and polemicist, Bellarmine, who declared that there are a number of key signs that the Roman Catholic Church is the one, true church, to the exclusion of any and all others. I have an excerpt to share with you, provided by the volumes managing editor, Dr. Benjamin Mayes, who continues to do a stellar job editing, revising and improving upon the translation by Dr. Richard Dinda. The excerpt follows my little promotional video and a list of Gerhard’s other works we provide.
Concordia Publishing House offers a number of Gerhard’s writings, in addition to the Loci.
An Explanation of the Sunday and Festival Gospel Lessons: Part I Sermons that address the first half of the church year – Advent through the Feast of Pentecost. Translated from the first part of Postilla, das ist, Erklaerung der Sonntaeglichen und Fuhrnehmsten Fest-Evangelien das gantze Jahr (1613).
Comprehensive Explanation of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: Begun the same year he started work on his renowned dogmatics, the Loci Theologi, Johann Gerhard’s Ausƒürliche schmriƒtmäßige Erklärung, is a masterpiece in its own right. In 67 chapters (31 for Baptism and 36 for the Lord’s Supper).
Meditations on Divine Mercy: This book is a translation of Gerhard’s Exercitium Pietatis Quotidianum, a book of 45 prayers that Gerhard wrote prior to 1612. Now newly translated from the German, Meditations on Divine Mercy is available for English readers to enjoy and appreciate. A chapter on the purpose and benefits of prayer is also included as well as an explanation of the aspects of daily meditation. Exercitium Pietatis Quotidianum
Sacred Meditations. This was the most popular of Gerhard’s devotional works. These 51 meditations by Gerhard are among the most profound devotional material ever produced within the Church, leading the reader through most of the articles of Christian doctrine.
This largest work, the Loci Theologici, was translated by Richard Dinda through the 1960s-1990s, and was purchased by Concordia Publishing House in 2002. It is being thoroughly edited and revised by Dr. Benjamin Mayes. The Theological Commonplaces series is the first-ever English translation of Johann Gerhard’s monumental Loci Theologici. Gerhard was the premier Lutheran theologian of the early seventeenth century. Combining his profound understanding of evangelical Lutheran theology with a broad interest in ethics and culture, he produced significant works on biblical, doctrinal, pastoral, and devotional theology. Gerhard interacts with the writings of the church fathers, Luther and his contemporaries, and the Catholic and Calvinist theologians of his day. His Loci are regarded as the standard compendium of Lutheran orthodoxy, with topics ranging from the proper understanding and interpretation of Scripture to eschatology.
Bellarmine’s arguments in favor of that consensus.
§ 204. To prove that agreement in doctrine with the ancient church is a mark of the church, Bellarmine sets forth two fundamental points:
(I) The true church is called apostolic, according to Tertullian (De praescript.), not only because of the succession of bishops from the apostles but also because of a kinship of doctrine, namely, because it retains the doctrine that the apostles handed down. And it is certain that in its first five hundred years the ancient church was the true church and thus had held on to the apostolic doctrine. (II) Emperor Theodosius is praised by Sozomen (Hist., bk. 7, ch. 12) because he said to the heretics of his time: “Let us examine your doctrine according to their writings. If it is agrees with them, let it be kept. If not, let it be rejected.”
We respond. (1) Agreement in doctrine with the church that was at the time of Tertullian and Theodosius is a mark of the church in no other way except insofar as that doctrine agrees with apostolic doctrine and that church with the apostolic church exactly and accurately. You see, there is only one norm and rule according to which every doctrine must be examined, namely, the voice of Christ and the apostles sounding forth in Scripture.
(2) We can learn whether and to what extent the church at the time of Tertullian and Theodosius retained apostolic doctrine only from the apostolic documents, because they set forth the doctrine of the apostles exactly.
(3) Tertullian is correct in asserting that the church is called apostolic not so much because of a personal and local succession as because of a kinship of doctrine. From this, however, one cannot infer that local succession and kinship of doctrine with the apostolic doctrine always walk together at equal pace and are inseparably joined together. After all, there are many churches in which a local succession once flourished which today lack the purity of apostolic doctrine. We can even prove this about the Roman church on the basis of the writings of the apostles.
(4) It is indeed certain that the ancient church in the first five hundred years was the true church and retained apostolic doctrine. Meanwhile, no one can deny that the straw of human traditions and opinions began to be mixed with apostolic doctrine, as can be shown from the writings of the fathers. (About this, see the Centuriae hist. Magdeburgensis, ch. de inclinatione doctrinae.) Hegesippus (as found in Eusebius, bk. 3, ch. 29) says: “While the apostles were still alive, the church was a virgin. After their death, however, she was astonishingly corrupted by false and lying doctrine, and, as for the rest, with a bare head (as they say), dared to set herself against the pure word of truth.” Chrysostom (on 1 Corinthians, homily 36) compares the church of his time to a woman who perished after the first flowering of her virginity. Jerome (De vita Malchi) speaks as follows: “I intended to write from the coming of the Savior to our age, that is, from the apostles to the dregs of our time, how and through whom Christ’s church was born and grew to adulthood by persecutions, was crowned with martyrs, and, after it reached Christian princes, became greater in power and riches but lesser in virtues.” Augustine (Letter 119 ad Januar.) complains about the heap of traditions and observances. Yet all of these lived during the first five hundred years. And furthermore, while the apostles were still living, the Antichrist began to work the mystery of iniquity [2 Thess. 2:7] and the false prophets began to sow their false dogmas. Hence one can learn only from the writings of the apostles what doctrine is truly divine and apostolic. Therefore we must always go back to the “Ancient of Days” [cf. Dan. 7:9, 22].
I picked up this interesting story from Religious News Service, and found myself agreeing completely with the Roman Catholic Archbishop. Many American evangelicals, fundamentalists and well as other well meaning Christians might think that the modern day state of Israel is somehow based on a Biblical foundation for its existence, but it is not. The New Testment makes very clear that there now is only one “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16), and it is not the modern state of Israel: it is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Having said that, I think there are compelling reasons to support the modern day state of Israel. They are an important ally of the United States, but their existence has nothing to do with Holy Scripture.
SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER URGES POPE BENEDICT XVI TO DENOUNCE ARCHBISHOP WHO DENIED JEWISH PEOPLE’S LINK TO LAND OF ISRAEL
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging Pope Benedict XVI to immediately denounce a statement by Melkite Catholic Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros at a Vatican Synod on the Middle East wherein he asserted that, “We Christians cannot speak about the promised land for the Jewish people. There is no longer a chosen people. All men and women of all countries have become the chosen people. The concept of the promised land cannot be used as a base for the justification of the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of Palestinians.” He added that, “[t]he justification of Israel’s occupation of the land of Palestine cannot be based on sacred scriptures.”
“This political stunt, wrapped in theological garb, not only insults every Jew but flies in the face of the statements and actions of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, both who have visited Israel and expressed solidarity with her people,” charged Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, dean and founder and associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, respectively, who have had audiences with both Pontiffs. “The Archbishop’s statement comes at the end of the conference wherein the so-called “Palestine Kairos Document”—which openly denies the right of Israel to be a Jewish state—was presented at the Vatican for the first time. These developments demand immediate action by the Pope. Hopes for peace in the Middle East will only come when both sides recognize the rights of the others. These latest moves, left unchallenged, will damage interfaith relations and embolden anti-Semites and terrorists,” they concluded.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).
For more information, please contact the Center’s Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.
You may have heard about Robert Schuller’s Chrystal Cathedral having to file bankruptcy. Financial bankruptcy is one thing, but the theological bankruptcy of the Cyrstal Cathedral was something they have been struggling with throughout Schuller and his daughter’s ministry there. Al Mohler had a very perceptive blog post recently setting forth the theological problems. Here is the ENI story about the financial bankruptcy.
California’s Crystal Cathedral files for bankruptcy protection
By Adelle M. Banks
Washington, 25 October (ENI/RNS)–The Crystal Cathedral, the gleaming Southern California megachurch known for its “Hour of Power” television broadcast, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors.
Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman said in an 18 October statement that the decision came after some creditors chose to file lawsuits against the ministry, Religion News Service reports.
“As is often the case, negotiations and decisions do not move fast enough to satisfy all parties,” said Coleman, who succeeded her father, the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, this year. “For these reasons, the ministry now finds it necessary to seek the protection of a Chapter 11.”
The church’s “Hour of Power” broadcast has been described as the most-watched Christian television programme worldwide. The building spans 415-feet (126.5 metres) in length, 207-feet (63 metres) in width and 128-feet (39 metres) in height. It features an all-glass covering that encloses the entire building.
Church officials cited the economy as the main cause for its financial trouble. Revenue dropped 27 percent, to about US$22 million, in 2009. In the last year, its staff was reduced by 140 and now totals about 200 people.
The church owes creditors US$7.5 million, said spokesperson John Charles, including the vendor who provided camels, sheep and horses for its annual “Glory of Christmas” pageant. Also unpaid are expenses for television equipment and bills for airtime on some television stations.
The ministry cut costs by reducing its airtime on domestic stations. It now airs on satellite and cable outlets such as Lifetime and the Trinity Network.
It also sold its Rancho Capistrano retreat property to Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in May for US$22.5 million. But it remains about US$44 million in debt.
The ministry also halted its “Glory of Easter” production, which along with its Christmas pageant have attracted crowds for three decades. “It looks like the ‘Glory of Christmas’ will not happen either,” said Charles. “Every passing day it looks a little more like no.”
Despite the current financial picture, statements from church officials reflected the same positive-thinking mantra the Schullers have been preaching for half a century.
“We know we’ll recover,” said Charles. “We’re very optimistic. This will allow us to get a new beginning.” [379 words]
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Picked up this little tip from LOGOS’ blog. Tried it. Instant awesome.
As you know, we live in an instant world: instant coffee, instant oatmeal, instant potatoes! Sometimes, even as we study the Bible, we need instant information. We need a quick definition, a pronunciation of a Greek word, a few cross references and the like. Well, Logos is here to help:
- Open an English Bible such as the ESV to a specific passage like Acts 17.16
- Choose the Tools menu
- Select Information
- By default the Information panel opens on the right hand side of the screen
Now rest your cursor on a word like Athens. Notice the data in the Information panel. Now move to the word provoked. More instant information! This panel is available to you wherever you are in the Bible offering previews of tremendous amounts of research. When you need to dig deeper, just click one of the links in the Information panel.
A friend of mine, Deaconess Kim Schave, shared powerful words recently on a discussion forum where the topic of abortion had come up. She had the courage to speak up, and out, in defense of the unborn and then shared her own, agonizingly painful, but beautifully powerful, account of her twin sons, born prematurely. She gave me permission to share her comments here. The photo is a picture of the grave of her two sons.
“For anyone who is interested, allow me to share how I moved from being a pro-choice feminist to the woman I am today.
“I grew up outside the church, finally convinced my parents to begin attending an ALC church close to our home where my mother had attended as a kid. I was baptized and confirmed at the age of 18. My parents and I attended off and on until I graduated and left for Army basic training later that year. It was nice to know I was in the club if I happened to die, basically. I grew up somehow believing in God and being taught about Jesus on the occasion that I went to church with friends or a VBS at a local church. I remember one time deciding with a friend that we’d memorize the Lord’s Prayer together from the little Gideon Bible we acquired from somewhere. She wasn’t a church-goer either. Those were my only experiences with God as a kid.
“Both before and after my baptism I participated in helping friends make decisions to get abortions. At that age, the world is ending if you don’t solve your immediate problem . . . you certainly can’t see that this too, shall pass. My particular circle of friends at certain times didn’t have parents they felt they could trust or pastors to turn to for wise counsel. There was still actually shame in the 80’s for being known as sexually active, which isn’t exactly the case these days in most secular circles. Abortion was fine in my mind, what difference did it really make, it’s just a blob of tissue that gets vacuumed out in a procedure simpler than having your tonsils taken out, right? More power to any woman who wants to exercise her right to choose what’s best for her body.
“Fast forward about eight years to 1995 when I was blessed to be carrying the future left and right guards for The Ohio State University as my husband and I would so lovingly joke. It was totally out of the blue; twins do not run in either of our families. Twin boys were on the way, and my husband couldn’t be more proud as a dad. The big items were purchased, the nursery was ready, we hadn’t quite gotten to the point that we had showers scheduled, yet out of the blue at work one day I started feeling rather ill and subsequently lost a lot of fluid. I was 24 weeks’ into my pregnancy, we had known for only about 2 weeks we were expecting twins, and the dream all came crashing down in just one day. I met my doctor at Christ Hospital (I cherish this hospital name yet today), then was transferred by ambulance to the nearest research hospital for an emergency C-section . . . it was too late to stop labor. I found much comfort in the Biblical number of 7 on that July 7, 1995, day.
“The only recourse for a mother at that point is to beg and plead with God to save her children. I think I bargained in every way I could think of with him while I was still conscious on the operating room table. I offered to dedicate them both to His service if God would allow them to live (I’m guessing the readings at church that week must have been based on 1 Samuel and were fresh in my mind, I don’t know). In the end, He would not grant that (or so it seemed at the time).
“My one pound boys who could fit in the palm of our hands, named Joshua and Zachary, lived for one day. My husband has better recall than I do of all that happened in those 24 hours. I tried to get down to the NICU once and ended up throwing up all over; I never made it back to see them. Today I think it’s because God was protecting me from the memories I’d still have today of how fragile they must have looked hooked up to all the equipment. My perfectly formed little blessings each had 10 perfect little fingers, 10 perfect little toes, handsome little faces, quite a bit of hair, and were simply created perfect in every way. I wanted these little babies more than anything in the world, and for whatever reason, God said “no.” To say I was a little angry with Him would be an understatement! Our faithful pastor baptized the boys in my husband’s presence in their little incubators; I was not able to witness it, but I cling to the assurance of this gift nonetheless.
“When it was time to take them off life-support, they were lovingly swaddled and brought to us so we could say good-bye. I had to that point never seen anything in my life as precious as those little bundles. We had about an hour or so to check out their little fingers and toes before we knew it was time to say good-bye. There is a discoloration that takes place when the oxygen levels decrease as babies die, and that point had come. Their tiny little noses started bleeding, and I’ll never forget wiping them with the greatest amount of love a mother can muster. My favorite scene in the Mel Gibson “The Passion of the Christ” movie is when Mary is wiping up her son’s precious blood from the ground with a stark white piece of cloth. His blood was simply not fit to be left there. From the perspective of a mother, this just cannot be described, only experienced.
“In the weeks following, after my father-in-law took down the nursery before I came home, after the tombstone and burial plot were picked out, after the graveside service, after the negotiating of final hospital bills, my pastor kept me focused on a very loving Father who allowed His own Son die to for my sake. This Father had the power to stop the abuse His own son would endure, but He loved us so much that He chose not to stop it. Oh, that pastors in all church bodies, especially the ELCA as this pastor was, would recognize the gift of Life. He had lost his own child to cancer and knew all too well what we were experiencing. Losing a child certainly gives you perspective on how much our society has come to devalue life. Right around the time of my loss, the newspapers were awash in the story of Susan Smith drowning her children. The unfairness of it all . . . one kills her sons while I want nothing more than for mine to live.
“But wait, what about those years I didn’t really seem to care so much about the lives I had so easily told my friends not to concern themselves with? I had some tough lessons to learn in those months and years following my loss, but despite the harshness of those lessons, God was there at every turn with the assurance that only comes through His Word, and for every deceitful whisper I’d hear from Satan, God’s Word came through all the more loudly.
“THIS is why I’m an ardent defender of the unborn. For another person to have to go through what I did to learn this lesson, well, I just wouldn’t wish it on anyone. For generations of women, men and children who haven’t been taught how precious the gift of Life is, I dedicate my remaining years to try to help others come to understand it.
“In the end, God did allow my sons to live. They live eternally with a loving Jesus because of God’s gift of grace through the waters of Holy Baptism. My insistence on helping others view Life with the same regard that I have come to have is my way of dedicating their lives to something important, I suppose. They did not live nor die in vain if I am able to help one mother save the life of her own baby (and also save her from a lifetime of pain). This is why I’m not afraid to call abortion a sin. This is why I am pro-baby, pro-mother and pro-father (and ultimately, pro-God).”
Deaconess Kim Schave, M.A., C.P.A.
O Lord, keep Your household the Church in continual godliness that through Your protection she may be free from all adversities and devoutly given to serve You in good works; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
We hear God’s Word
We meditate on God’s Word
Summary of the Scripture Readings
“’Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen. 1:1—2:3). The Father speaks, and it is so. His Word accomplishes what it says. He created all things out of nothing through His Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Father’s creative Word became flesh in Jesus Christ, that He might restore fallen creation and save fallen man. To the nobleman whose son was deathly ill, Jesus says, “Go; your son will live” (John 4:46–54). And in the very hour Jesus spoke, the nobleman’s son was made well. The Word of Christ still accomplishes what it says. In baptism, absolution, and the Lord’s Supper, He declares His life–giving forgiveness to you, and it is so. This saving Word of God is the sword of the Spirit by which you are able to fight off all the onslaughts of the devil (Eph. 6:10–17). “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”
Luther on John 4:46-54
This is the nature and way of faith:–thus God deals with us, when he wishes to strengthen us. This is also what St. Paul means in 2 Cor. 3, 18, when he says: “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.” The glory of the Lord with Paul is the knowledge of God. Moses also possessed a glory, the knowledge and understanding of the law. When I have a knowledge of the law, I look into his clear countenance and into his pure light. But now we have passed through that and have a higher knowledge of Christ our Lord. Whoever knows him as the man who helps in time of need and gives power to fulfil the law, through whom we have acquired the forgiveness of sins: in that way he mirrors his glory in us. That is, as the rays of the sun are reflected in the water or in a mirror, so Christ reflects himself and gives forth a lustre from himself in our hearts, in a way that we are transformed from one degree of glory to another, so that we daily increase and more clearly know and understand the Lord. Then we shall be changed and transformed into the same image, in a way that we all will be one bread with Christ. This is not accomplished in that we ourselves do it by virtue of our own power; but God, who is the Spirit, must do it. For even if the Holy Spirit began such glory or illumination in us and would later forsake us, then we would be as we were before.
Now we ought to be so armed that we do not remain standing still at the first degree, but continually increase; therefore the cross, temptation and opposition must come, by means of which faith will grow and become strong, and as the glory of faith increases, the mortification of the body also increases; the stronger faith is, the weaker will the flesh be, and the smaller the faith, the stronger the flesh, and the less will the flesh be denied. We are apt to think, if I shall continually help my neighbor, what will become of me? To what will I come at last? But if we had mirrored in us true faith and Christ, we would not doubt that we should have enough, but remember that God will surely come to our assistance when the crisis comes. But if we are lost in such a little tempest, what will we do in the great conflicts of the soul? See, in this way faith is exercised and increased; if we go forth, and are today as yesterday, tomorrow as today, that is not a Christian life. Now the second thing for which John praises this man is, that he increased in faith.
In the third place, he says: While he was going home, his servants met him and said to him that his son lived, and he experienced that his son began to amend in the very hour that the Lord had said to him, “Thy son liveth;” and he believed and his whole house. Here the Evangelist says again that he believed. But, if he had not believed heretofore why did he come to Christ? This is a more perfect faith, that was confirmed by the miracle. In this manner our Lord God deals with us to make us more perfect and raise us ever to a higher plane of faith. If we pass through this condition, we thus come into the experience and become assured of our faith, as we see here that the nobleman overcomes all difficulties like an iconoclast who tears down pictures and images, receives applause and becomes certain of his cause, in that he has experienced it, and finds that he is helped by faith, and all agree; the time, the miracle and the word with the faith.
What then did he now believe? Not that his son had been healed, for this kind of faith is now at an end, the healing has been done, and it is now a thing of the past. He sees before his eyes that his son lives. But out of his experience comes forth another faith, that Christ would in the future continue to help him out of other troubles and whatever dark pictures might rise before him; that is what he believed. If the Lord had said to him: Go and die; he would have replied: Although I do not know whither I shall go or where the inn is, yet since I tried before what faith is, I will again cling to the Word. You helped me once when I could not see nor understand; you will now again help me. Moreover, if Christ had said to him: Leave home and land and your possessions, and come, follow me; he would not have thought: Yes, but how shall I support myself? No doubt the picture would have appeared before his eyes: There is everything in abundance, here is nothing; shall I let go of that, what will I come to? But now he thinks: Although nothing is here, and I see nothing, I will nevertheless cling to the Word, he will surely help me. I tried it before. This is impossible for reason, but faith can do all things.
Therefore faith exercises itself in various temptations and every day new temptations arise; for the former experiences do not always return, as one sees here. This nobleman has already made use of the work of faith, that is now past, it will never return again; but he must now try another. Therefore the oftener a person experiences the same temptation, the better it is for him; the more he triumphs over the storm, the firmer he lays hold of Christ.
In like manner it went with the Holy Patriarchs, and thus it always goes with us; so that I believe what has taken place in former times, is of no help to me, but my faith must always turn its attention to things of the future. Therefore, when God called Abraham to depart out of his own country, he did it, and believed it, Gen. 12, If. Now when he came into that country, God called him to go into another and later into another. Thus he continually increased in faith, and later he became so assured, and had traced and experienced how God dealt with him, and became such a perfect character that he was willing to offer his own son as a sacrifice to God. From this it follows: Whoever is greatly tried and disciplined in this way, faces death much more willingly.
Thus you see how an example of growing faith is here portrayed; it is now clear enough, therefore take it well to heart. Every person has indeed his own experiences in life by which he may exercise his faith, to trust God to help him. Thus he will be able to prove how God helps him, and he can thus make progress and grow in faith. As soon as one experience ends another always begins, so that we may see and grasp the truth that our Lord God is true. If we have the confidence that he will nourish and sustain our bodies, we can also believe that he will save our souls.
Bach Cantata for the 21st Sunday After Trinity: BWV 109
|Cantata for the Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity|
Ich glaube, lieber Herr, hilf meinem Unglauben!
I believe, dear Lord, help my unbelief!
|2. Rezitativ T
Des Herren Hand ist ja noch nicht verkürzt,
Mir kann geholfen werden.
Ach nein, ich sinke schon zur Erden
Vor Sorge, daß sie mich zu Boden stürzt.
Der Höchste will, sein Vaterherze bricht.
Ach nein! Er hört die Sünder nicht.
Er wird, er muß dir bald zu helfen eilen,
Um deine Not zu heilen.
Ach nein, es bleibet mir um Trost sehr bange;
Ach Herr, wie lange?
|2. Recitative T
Indeed the Lord’s hand is even now not cut short,
I can be helped.
Alas no, I sink already to the earth
with worries that press me to the ground.
The Highest wills, His fatherly heart breaks.
Alas no! He does not listen to sinners.
He will, He must hurry to help you soon,
in order to heal your suffering.
Alas no, I remain very despairing of comfort;
ah, Lord, how long?
|3. Arie T
Wie zweifelhaftig ist mein Hoffen,
Wie wanket mein geängstigt Herz!
Des Glaubens Docht glimmt kaum hervor,
Es bricht dies fast zustoßne Rohr,
Die Furcht macht stetig neuen Schmerz.
|3. Aria T
How doubtful is my hope,
how my anxious heart wavers!
The wick of faith barely glimmers forth,
the reed, almost crushed, is breaking,
fear constantly creates new pains.
|4. Rezitativ A
O fasse dich, du zweifelhafter Mut,
Weil Jesus itzt noch Wunder tut!
Dein Glaubensaguen werden schauen
Das Heil des Herrn;
Scheint die Erfüllung allzufern,
So kannst du doch auf die Verheißung bauen.
|4. Recitative A
Take hold of yourself, o doubtful courage,
since even now Jesus works miracles!
Your faithful eyes shall behold
the salvation of the Lord;
if the fulfillment seems all too far away,
yet you can rely on the promise.
|5. Arie A
Der Heiland kennet ja die Seinen,
Wenn ihre Hoffnung hilflos liegt.
Wenn Fleisch und Geist in ihnen streiten,
So steht er ihnen selbst zur Seiten,
Damit zuletzt der Glaube siegt.
|5. Aria A
The Savior knows His own indeed,
when their hope lies helpless.
When flesh and spirit battle each other,
then He Himself stands at their side,
so that faith triumphs in the end.
Wer hofft in Gott un dem vertraut,
Der wird nummer zuschanden;
Denn wer auf diesen Felsen baut,
Ob ihm gleich geht zuhanden
Viel Unfalls hie, hab ich doch nie
Den Menschen sehen fallen,
Der sich verläßt auf Gottes Trost;
Er hilft sein’ Gläubgen allen.
(“Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt,” verse 7)
Whoever hopes in God and trusts in Him,
will never be put to shame;
for whoever builds on this rock,
although at the moment he be beset
by many misfortunes, yet I have never seen
those people fail
who rely on God’s consolation;
He helps all His faithful ones.
|Mark 9:24 (mov’t. 1); “Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt,” verse 7: Lazarus Spengler 1524 (mov’t. 6)|
Please, watch this video, and take it to heart. Friends don’t let friends use bad fonts.
Valerius Herberger? Who’s that? He was a pastor known as the “Jesus preacher” for his remarkably keen focus on seeing Christ everywhere in Scripture. Matthew Carver has translated the first two parts of his devotional meditation through the book of Genesis, titled, The Great Works of God. Don’t miss this book. It is really remarkable. You may have bumped into Herberger’s thoughts in the Treasury of Daily Prayer, where there are several selections from Herberger in the “Writings” appointed for the day. Here is another selection, from The Great Works of God: The Mysteries of Christ in the Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–15 The book is available now from Concordia Publishing House. You can order online here.
Here is a selection from Herberger, provided by the translator, Matthew Carver, this selection deals with what to look for when you read the Bible.
Our Lord Jesus says Himself, “The Scriptures bear witness about Me” [John 5:39], and “Moses wrote of Me” [John 5:46]. Here you have the best summary of the whole Bible. Sure, there are fine stories in the Bible about Adam, Eve, Abel, Noah, Abraham, etc.—many fine instructions and rules for life. But these are only the peels and rinds. Jesus is the core and the flesh. One must learn to remove the peel and squeeze out the pulp. Thus Luther once wrote on his good friend’s Bible, “The Word became flesh, that is, God became man. This wonderful and extraordinary event, to wit, that God became man, is what the whole of that single book, and none other, teaches. For if you do not seek the Word Become Flesh in that book, then you had better read a volume of Marcolphus or Eulenspiegel. Everything that was done and written about [in the Bible] has to do with this Word. He is the Lord who lies in the manger and in the arms of Mary. This Book is of no use, etc., for anyone who does not believe this.” Luther demonstrated this very truth on August 5, 1545 in an important sermon in Halle. (See Luther’s Works, Jena ed., vol. 8, fol. 185. He also gave a lovely speech on this same topic in the prior vol., fol. 364.)
The Bible is thus a Book about Christ. Jesus is the end, purpose, marrow, kernel, and jewel of the Bible, shining out of it like the sun in the heavens. Moreover, Christ’s life is recounted three times in it: first in Moses, second in the Prophets, and third in the New Testament. Our Lord Jesus Himself said as much: “Behold, I come; in the book it is written of Me” (Ps. 40:7). And as He walked with the two disciples to Emmaus, He first talked of Moses, and then of the Prophets. He furthermore called the scribe who can use both the Old and New Testaments “a wise man fit to further the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 13:52).
In same way, St. Peter says, “To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name” (Acts 10:43). And at the First Council (Acts 15:11) he tied the Old and New Testaments together, saying, “We believe that we will be saved through the grace of Jesus Christ just as they,” our fathers. St. Paul also says that “Christ is the end of the law” (Rom. 10:4); and in Acts 26:22, he protests and demonstrates publicly that he preached nothing but what was found in Moses and the Prophets. Thus Irenaeus writes, “Diligently read the Gospel which the apostles have given us, and diligently read the Prophets. In these you will find recounted all that our Lord Christ did, taught, and suffered.” Likewise Augustine says, “Christ came into the world not to restore what was lacking in Scripture, but that what was written therein should come to pass and be fulfilled”; and again, “The New lies in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed.” And Jerome says, “That which we read in the Old Testament we also find in the Gospel; and that which is read in the Gospel has been taken from the Old Testament.” Also, Paulinus, “In the Old is the New and in the New is the Old.” Every person, place, name, timeframe, word-order, and number must therefore be carefully heeded, especially in the New Testament, for it is all full of utter mystery. And I say mystery with special emphasis. For you should not imagine that I will show you Christ in common, everyday allegories (contrived explanations and propositions) devised by human reason, as Origen did. For the easier something is to build up, the easier it is to tear down. Rather, I will tell you about Jesus our Redeemer in beautiful and memorable mysteries not based on human wisdom but on the clear testimony of the Holy Spirit in Scripture. Outside of Scripture, all kinds of allegories, or artificial and allusive explanations, are sure to be found also. But the mysteries discussed here are not to be met with anywhere but in the Bible. Allegories are all fine, lovely constructions in which something of note is conveyed to us, even though they do not all speak about Christ, and even though they do not all have a clear basis in Scripture—just as long as they do not conflict with any clear verse. But these mysteries are only taken from Scripture and only speak about Christ alone, or His Church, and they have a clear, express foundation, established from Holy Scripture. Some allegories are flimsy, ridiculous jokes, as Augustine confirms. But these mysteries are nothing other than words of life drawn from the sure foundation of the Bible.
For example, the sun presents Jesus Christ to us in a mystery, as Malachi 4:2 clearly demonstrates. The copper serpent of Moses points to the Lamb of God, the crucified Jesus, by way of a mystery. Jesus Himself demonstrates this in John 3:14–15. The mercy-seat in the tabernacle is a mystery of the Mediator, Jesus Christ, which St. Paul clearly demon¬strates in Romans 3:25. Regarding these images revealed to us by the Holy Spirit Himself, Luther says (in his Commentary on Genesis), “They not only ornament the doctrine, but also comfort consciences.” And again, “They not only agree well with the matter, but also instruct us in the faith and comfort consciences.” In common allegories there is only the vegetables and sauce, but in these mysteries the meat, vegetables, and sauce are served at once. And Holy Scripture uses this honorific word in reference to Christ, His Church, and His Gospel: “To you is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God” (Mark 4:11; cf. Matt. 13:14; Luke 8:18). St. Paul calls the Gospel “mysterious” (1 Cor. 2:7), and the minister a “steward of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1); “In the Spirit he utters the mysteries” (1 Cor. 14:2), and: “Pray also for us, that God may open to us the door of the word, to utter the mystery of Christ” (Col. 4:3). Likewise, the meaning of the stars and the lampstands in Revelation 1:20 is called a mystery. And St. Andrew (in The Golden Legend) called the cross of Jesus Christ a mystery when it appeared strange to a heathen.
Many years ago I read that, in his old age, not long before His blessed death, Luther said (in Luther’s Life), “The best exposition of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms is the New Testament, for so the Old Testament is the foundation of the New Testament. If I were younger, I would search out all the words of the New Testament in Moses and the Prophets. When the languages and texts are compared side by side, it provides a great and marvelous explanation of Scripture.” To tell the truth, these words have inspired me in my endeavor.
We also have fine depictions in the Bible of how the Old and New Testament both have in view a common object. For instance, there is the mercy-seat (Ex. 25:17) upon which two angel-heads with wings face each other, viewing the mercy-seat and touching each other’s wings. The true mercy-seat is Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:25). The two cherubim (i.e., angel-heads with wings) are the Old and New Testament which stand directly facing each other, one prophesying, the other fulfilling, and both looking at Jesus Christ and embracing each other so that the whole world might know the Mercy-Seat, Jesus Christ.
In Numbers 13, two men carry a red cluster of grapes on a stick, one leading, the other following. Jesus is the blood-red, succulent cluster of grapes on the tree of the cross “from whose fullness we have all received” (John 1[:16]). He is carried by the Old and New Testament. The Old leads in hope, the New follows after with joy and thanksgiving, and together they carry Jesus in their heart, and are saved by Him. As Christ was going to Jerusalem (Matt. 21:9), a great crowd of people went before Him, Christ rode in the middle, and a great crowd followed after Him. The people going before depict the Old Testament; those following, the New Testament. Surely this is the one Christian Church, for they all walk together in a single confession and in unison cry, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed be the great Captain of Life! May all that He undertakes for our salvation prosper!” These are also the swaddling cloths (Luke 2:7) in which the infant Jesus was wrapped. Paper is made from linen rags. The little infant Jesus is swaddled in the paper of the Bible, and there He must be sought.
Anglican congregation’s plan for Roman exit not seen as exodus
By Martin Revis
London, 22 October (ENI)–The decision by an Anglican parish in south-east England to leave the Church of England to become Roman Catholic has taken some by surprise.
The elected parochial church council of St Peter’s, Folkestone, south east England, which has taken the unanimous decision to secede, is seeking a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to discuss procedure.
Earlier this year Pope Benedict XVI offered special provisions for members of the Church of England unhappy with the prospect of female bishops.
The Rev. Stephen Bould, the parish vicar, and the church council said they regretted having to take such action and called for a smooth transition in the interest of both parties. Bould said he was proud of the courage and faith of the lay people concerned. He told journalists after the morning service on 17 October he did not know how many of the congregation would join the Catholic Church.
He also said he did he know what would happen to the 150 year-old parish church or the school, although he added that it would be wonderful if it were possible for converts to continue worshipping in the building.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, in whose diocese St Peter’s is located, was in India and there was no comment from Lambeth Palace, the headquarters of the Church of England.
The Folkestone initiative was the first taken by Anglican lay people intent on converting as a group. It came as the Bishop of Fulham, John Broadhurst, told a conference of the traditionalist pressure group Forward in Faith on 16 October he would resign before the end of 2010 and enter the Catholic enclave, known as the ordinariate, created for dissident Anglicans who will be allowed to retain some of their practices.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Bishop Broadhurst accused the Church of England of breaking promises to make provision for opponents of female bishops.
“I don’t feel I have any choice but to leave the church and take up the pope’s offer,” Broadhurst was quoted as saying. “The general synod (the church’s parliament) has become vindictive and vicious. It has been fascist in its behaviour, marginalising those who have been opposed to women’s ordination,” he said. “The pope generously made an offer providing a home for our Catholic heritage at the same time as the Church of England made it clear that it does not want us.”
Members of the last Church of England general synod decided in July there was no need to further delay legislation to create women bishops or to provide male alternatives for parishes opposed to change.
Robert Pigott, the religious affairs correspondent of BBC News, commented, “Although this early decision by St Peter’s has taken observers somewhat by surprise, it shouldn’t be seen as evidence of a flood of parishes or even priests leaving for Rome.” [492 words]
(c) Ecumenical News International
By Jonathan Luxmoore
Warsaw, 22 October (ENI)–A Turkish government adviser says Christians and Muslims should be allowed to worship again in Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia basilica, eight decades after it was turned into a museum by the country’s secularist authorities.
“Hagia Sofia was built as a place of worship. It served people this way as a church and mosque for more than a thousand years,” said Mehmet Akif Aydýn, an expert with the Presidency of Religious Affairs, which monitors religious sites in Turkey, including more than 80 000 mosques.
“As a Muslim, I’d like it to become a mosque. But if Hagia Sofia were opened to Muslim worshippers on weekdays, it should also be opened to Christians on Sundays. It disturbs me that it’s become just a museum and tourist destination.”
The expert was commenting on calls for the sixth century landmark to be reopened for religious events, after warnings from the European Commission that Turkey must offer better protection of religious rights as a precondition for joining the European Union by 2015.
In an interview with the daily Zaman newspaper on 5 October, he said the basilica’s use by both faiths would help strengthen Christian-Muslim co-operation in Turkey, which has witnessed several attacks by Islamic militants on Christian clergy, including the June killing of Bishop Luigi Padovese, president of the country’s Roman Catholic Bishops Conference.
“Continuing a culture of co-existence, which I hope will improve throughout Turkey, is more important and acceptable than having Hagia Sophia remain a museum,” said Professor Aydýn, who also runs an Istanbul-based Islamic Research Centre and teaches at Marmara University. “We can learn to coexist with other faiths if we allow every faith group member to learn and live his religion without fears and reservations.”
Christian minorities have frequently complained of discrimination and hostility in Turkey, nearly all of whose 76 million inhabitants are Sunni Muslims. In May, the country’s Islamist prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ordered local authorities to “uphold the rights of the Christian and Jewish minorities” and to “behave with respect towards their clergy.”
In August, the Muslim head of the Presidency of Religious Affairs, Mufti Ali Bardakoglu, called for an ancient church at St Paul’s birthplace of Tarsus to be returned to Christian worship. Two
years earlier it had attracted world attention during second millennium celebrations of the apostle’s birth.
Originally commissioned by Emperor Constantine, Hagia Sophia was rebuilt between 532 and 537 as the foremost church in Constantinople, which was later renamed Istanbul, from a design said to be dictated to the Emperor Justinian by an angel in a dream. It was used as a mosque after the city’s capture by Ottoman Turks in 1453 and turned into a museum in 1934 in Istanbul by Turkey’s secularist founder, Kemal Ataturk.
In 2005, a group of Swiss lecturers and academics began collecting one million signatures to petition the European Parliament to ensure “Christendom’s grandest place of worship for over 900 years” was reopened for religious worship. [506 words]
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One can reply briefly: It is profitable for strengthening of faith. But this must be explained more fully, and it cannot be done better than with the words of institution, thus:
I. Remission of sins and salvation consists in this, that we are partakers of the merit of Christ and are included in the New Testament covenant of grace. Christ offers us the greatest token and surest seal of this in His Supper, namely that very same body of His, by whose offering these great benefits have been bought, and that very same blood, by whose shedding the New Testament was confirmed, so that we might be made sure and strong against all temptations by this most precious pledge, that the communion of the good things accomplished by the death of Christ most certainly applies also to us.
II. The promise of the Gospel in general offers grace to all believers, so that everyone might surely conclude that this universal promise applies specifically also to him and that this grace is offered and presented to him in such a way that he can safely rely on it and rejoice in it. In the true use of this Sacrament, Christ Himself offers and gives to every individual His body and blood, by the means ordained for this, beamed at every individual with this personal invitation: “Take, eat and drink; this is My body given for you; this is My blood [shed] for the remission of your sins.”
“The Great Work of God” by Valerius Herberger – An Amazing Book of Rich Devotional Meditations on Scripture
From my colleague, Ed Engelbrecht’s blog site: A devotional thought from our latest book, a unique and classic commentary called: The Great Works of God by Valerius Herberger (1562-1627), translated by Matthew Carver. Below the devotional thought is more information about the book.
Here the Lord Jesus made a clear announcement of His gracious intent to poor Adam and sorrowful Eve, and thus became the first, best, and most lovely Preacher of evangelical comfort. The Lord Jesus Himself even spoke in this fashion in Isaiah 61:1–2: “The Lord has sent Me to preach to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and to those who are bound, that it may be opened to them; to proclaim a gracious year of the Lord, and a day the vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn,” etc. In Luke 4:18, the Lord Jesus plainly connects these words to Himself in His first sermon, delivered in His fatherland of Nazareth where He was brought up. And of this comforting work, Christ says, “The only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known to us” (John 1:18). Jesus also says that He is “He who spoke to you from the beginning” (John 8:25), that is, “I am He who spoke comfortingly to the patriarchs from the beginning of the world, and made pledges to them in their grief.” Just as our Lord Jesus was the speaker in the work of creation as discussed earlier, as found in the First Article of the Creed, He is also the speaker in the work of redemption here, as found in the Second Article of the Creed. Thus the Chaldean Bible says, “They heard the voice of the Word of God our Lord.” So the whole world should listen to and love this preacher of comfort, as Moses says in Deuteronomy 18:15, and as God the Father Himself says in Matthew 17:5.
Oh my Lord Jesus, You are the first and most pleasant preacher of comfort, and You will remain the most beautiful, noblest counselor to all godly hearts until the end of the world. I pray You, graciously also fulfill Your office in me in my every need.
I trust, O Christ, in You alone;
No earthly hope avails me.
You will not see me overthrown
When Satan’s host assails me.
No human strength, no earthly pow’r
Can see me through the evil hour,
For You alone my strength renew.
I cry to You!
I trust, O Lord, Your promise true, etc.
The whole hymn is relevant here.
Therefore, when all manner of empty comforts and human trifles are foisted upon you, simply reply: Jesus Christ is the best comfort in every trouble. He is the oldest source of consolation. I will stay with Him. It is good to keep what is old. The old God and the old comfort are always best. Others have no lasting power. The heart cannot be at peace apart from Christ’s comfort. New bread, new calendars, new things each year—I count them but trifles. The old God and the old comfort are always best.
Matthew Carver, MFA, is a translator of German and classical literature. He resides in Nashville, TN, with his wife Amanda, where they pursue interests in art, orthodox Lutheran theology, liturgy, and hymnody.
“Who conquers, I will grant to eat from the tree of life,” that is, from the fruit of the cross, “which is in the paradise of my God.” The church is to be regarded as paradise, for “all things were done in figure,” and Adam was “the shadow of the one to come,” as the apostle teaches. Indeed, the tree of life is the wisdom of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, who hung on the cross. In the church and in the spiritual paradise, he gives to the faithful food of life and the sacrament of the celestial bread, of which you read, “Wisdom is the tree of life to those who embrace her.”
Tyconius, COMMENTARY ON THE APOCALYPSE 2.7.36. William C. Weinrich, Revelation, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT 12, 23 (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005).