Just as Adam lived the natural life with the five senses and all sorts of natural functions of the body, so all of his children from the beginning of the world to its end live, one just like the other. For the words “the image of the man of dust” mean that we all bear with us the same form and essence and live and do in every respect as Adam and Eve lived and did. They led the same kind of life, they ate, drank, digested, eliminated, froze, wore clothes, etc., as we do. Therefore, in external aspects there was no observable difference between them and us. Later, however, we shall divest ourselves of that image and essence and receive another’s, namely, the celestial Christ’s. Then we shall have the same form and essence which He now has since His resurrection. Then we need no longer eat, drink, sleep, walk, stand, etc., but will live without any creatural necessities. The entire body will be as pure and bright as the sun and as light as the air, and, finally, so healthy, so blissful, and filled with such heavenly, eternal joy in God that it will never hunger, thirst, grow weary, or decline. That will indeed be a far different and an immeasurably more glorious image than the present one. And what we bear there will be far different from what we bear here. There will be no dissatisfaction, no annoyances, no hardships to bear, such as we have in this lazy, lame image, where we must bear and drag this heavy, indolent paunch about with us, lift it, and have it led. No, there it will swish through all the heavens as swiftly and lightly as lightning and soar over the clouds among the dear angels. St. Paul was intent on impressing these thoughts on us so that we might accustom ourselves already to rising into that life by faith and remember what we are hoping and wishing and praying for when we recite the article: I believe in the resurrection, not only of the spirit—as the heretics said—but also of that very flesh, or body, which we bear on our necks. We believe that it, too, will become a celestial, spiritual body. For what St. Paul discusses in this entire chapter with so many words is only an explanation of this article. He teaches nothing but what these two words contain and convey: “resurrection of the flesh.”
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 28: 1 Corinthians 7, 1 Corinthians 15, Lectures on 1 Timothy, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, 1 Co 15:48–49 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).
Merciful God, your servant Joseph of Arimathea prepared the body of our Lord and Savior for burianl with reverence and godly fear and laid Him in his own tomb. As we follow the example of Joseph, grant to us, Your faithful people, that same grace and courage to love adn serve Jesus with sincere devotion, all the days of our lives, through Christ our Lord.
This Joseph, mentioned in all four Gospels, come from a small village called Arimathea in the hill country of Judea. He was a respected member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious council in Jerusalem. He was presumably wealthy, since he owned his own unused tomb in a garden not far from the site of Jesus’ crucifixion (Mt 27:60). Joseph, a man waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went to Pontius Pilate after the death of Jesus and asked for Jesus’ body (Mk 15:43). Along with Nicodemus, Joseph removed the body and placed it in the tomb (John 19:39). Their public devotion contrasted greatly to the fearfulness of the disciples who had abandoned Jesus.
A few weeks before his unexpected death, at a meeting of the General Synod of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (VELKD), Werner Elert participated in a discussion which preceded the adoption of the first part of a new liturgy for that church. His extempore remarks on this occasion are here translated from the Informationsdienst der VELKD (January, 1955) both in memory of this distinguished theologian and churchman and also on account of their significance for American as well as European Lutheranism.
“In the historical part of Leiturgia it is asserted that Luther really did not achieve a proper understanding of public worship. When one goes on to consider the conception of worship which is set forth in this study, one finds that it rests, quite understandably and properly, on a consideration of historical development. The liturgical life of the church is of course an historical phenomenon which must be traced to its origins. Now, it is to be observed (and this can easily be established by anyone who is familiar with the literature) that the description of the beginnings of Christian worship which is offered in Leiturgia follows the description given by Roman Catholics on the basis of the very outstanding investigations which have been made in recent decades by Benedictines especially, and more recently also by Jesuits. Lutheran liturgiologists rest their case, insofar as the historical treatment is concerned, on these investigations. I do not intend to criticize the work of the Benedictines, for everyone knows how much thorough knowledge, how much quiet objectivity, and how little polemic is involved in it. However, we cannot and should not expect that these Catholic brethren are in a position to understand and present, even in the history of worship, what was of concern to Luther. If Luther is to be judged by the norms which are basic to the Benedictine interpretation, it can indeed be said that he did not really un- derstand what worship is.
“Over against this charge I should assert that, if it can at all be said that Luther reached back beyond the Middle Ages to the ancient church, this was especially true in his restoration of preaching to an important and central place. The contrary opinion with regard to public worship in the ancient church is so widely held that I cannot hope to counteract it effectively in the few moments at my disposal here. But I cannot refrain from mentioning a few little things which the reader of the sources will encounter and to which the literature makes some reference. We are today given the impression that worship in the ancient church was quite exclusively liturgical — as we still find it, for example, in Eastern Orthodox churches. But in a sermon one of the ancient Church Fathers sets forth in very vivid fashion the fault he has to find with the contemporary liturgical service. The congregation is not there, he reports. The people are wandering about outside, the boys and girls lounging about during the performance of the liturgy. They have a watchman posted at the door, however, and when the distribution of the elements in Holy Communion is about to begin, a signal is given and the young people rush into the church like a pack of hounds, snatch up the host from the clergyman’s hands as a dog snatches up a piece of meat, and then depart. I am not suggesting that this sort of thing was the general practice, but it happened.
“I have a different understanding of preaching from that [set forth in Leiturgia]. The preaching of the ancient church . . . was doctrinal preaching. It was an expression of the orthodox faith of the church at that time. Accordingly it is subject to the prejudiced charge which is leveled against all forms of orthodoxy, including the orthodoxy of our time, that the preaching was dry and irrelevant and of interest only to learned theologians. I wish that you could see some of the few extant fragments of paper on which stenographers recorded sermons. Perhaps you are aware that the extant sermons of the great Church Fathers, including those of Augustine, were not written by themselves but were recorded by stenographers. When one sees and deciphers the hastily written shorthand notes of the stenographers, one can get an impression of what preaching was like at that time. Sermons were not dull doctrinal addresses in our sense of the term. Congregations were attentive. Records reveal the tremendous, dramatic emotion which the sermons evoked, even the cries with which the auditors interrupted the preacher. The stenographic reports give us all sorts of information, even that Augustine had a bad cough on one occasion. This is alluded to in a passing remark, ‘Pardon me, I could not help coughing, for I have been preaching a great deal the last few days.’
“If one reads the great sermons on the dogma of the ancient church which Gregory Nazianzen preached in Constantinople before he was elevated to the patriarchate—the entire dogma of the ancient church is contained in four sermons which have been published on
the basis of stenographic reports— one must be astonished at the intellectual and spiritual power of the preacher, who was able to communicate the teaching of the church to his hearers in such a compact, vivid, and existential manner, for what he treated concerned life and death. This is what services were like in the ancient church. Our honored liturgiologists . . . will say that all of this is well known. But there is still danger that we misinterpret the ancient church when we see it only in the light of the Benedictine investigations and inquire only about the origin of the Kyrie and ask when the Hallelujah was first employed. . . .
“The impression has gone abroad, and our liturgiologists are at least partly to blame for this, that the preaching, teaching church is to be replaced in some sense by the liturgical church.”
Whoever will not believe or cannot be persuaded by God’s Word and the example or experience of the resurrection initiated in Christ, will very likely be preached to in vain by illustrations and examples. It should suffice a Christian to hear God’s Word declare that he will come forth from the earth alive, with body, soul, and all senses. He should regard that as true and certain because God said it. He should not inquire further how this will happen but should leave that to God. For He who is able to raise all the dead from the earth with one word will surely also know how to bestow a form and an essence that will serve and be appropriate to the heavenly, eternal life.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 28: 1 Corinthians 7, 1 Corinthians 15, Lectures on 1 Timothy, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, 1 Co 15:35–38 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).
Today, July 30, in 1540, the English Reformer, Robert Barnes, was killed for his faith and public confession. He became a friend of Luther and lived in the home of Johann Bugenhagen, pastor of the city Church in Wittenberg. He was committed to spreading the Gospel in England, but was caught up in Henry VIII’s murderous plots and schemes and so paid the ultimate price for his faith. Here is the article about him from the 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica:
BARNES, ROBERT (1495-1540), English reformer and martyr, born about 1495, was educated at Cambridge, where he was a member, and afterwards prior of the convent of Austin Friars, and graduated D.D. in 1523. He was apparently one of the Cambridge men who were wont to gather at the White Horse Tavern for Bible-reading and theological discussion early in the third decade of the 16th century. In 1526, he was brought before the vice-chancellor for preaching a heterodox sermon, and was subsequently examined by Wolsey and four other bishops. He was condemned to abjure or be burnt; and preferring the former alternative, was committed to the Fleet prison and afterwards to the Austin Friars in London. He escaped thence to Antwerp in 1528, and also visited Wittenberg, where he made Luther’s acquaintance. He also came across Stephen Vaughan, an agent of Thomas Cromwell and an advanced reformer, who recommended him to Cromwell: “Look well,” he wrote, “upon Dr Barnes’ book. It is such a piece of work as I have not yet seen any like it. I think he shall seal it with his blood” (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII. v. 593). In 1531 Barnes returned to England, and became one of the chief intermediaries between the English government and Lutheran Germany. In 1535 he was sent to Germany, in the hope of inducing Lutheran divines to approve of Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and four years later he was employed in negotiations connected with Anne of Cleves’s marriage. The policy was Cromwell’s, but Henry VIII. had already in 1538 refused to adopt Lutheran theology, and the statute of Six Articles (1539), followed by the king’s disgust with Anne of Cleves (1540), brought the agents of that policy to ruin. An attack upon Bishop Gardiner by Barnes in a sermon at St Paul’s Cross was the signal for a bitter struggle between the Protestant and reactionary parties in Henry’s council, which raged during the spring of 1540. Barnes was forced to apologize and recant; and Gardiner delivered a series of sermons at St Paul’s Cross to counteract Barnes’ invective. But a month or so later Cromwell was made earl of Essex, Gardiner’s friend, Bishop Sampson, was sent to the Tower, and Barnes reverted to Lutheranism. It was a delusive victory. In July, Cromwell was attainted, Anne of Cleves was divorced and Barnes was burnt (30th July 1540). He also had an act of attainder passed against him, a somewhat novel distinction for a heretic, which illustrates the way in which Henry VIII. employed secular machinery for ecclesiastical purposes, and regarded heresy as an offence against the state rather than against the church. Barnes was one of six executed on the same day: two, William Jerome and Thomas Gerrard, were, like himself, burnt for heresy under the Six Articles; three, Thomas Abel, Richard Fetherstone and Edward Powell, were hanged for treason in denying the royal supremacy. Both Lutherans and Catholics on the continent were shocked. Luther published Barnes’ confession with a preface of his own as Bekenntnis des Glaubens (1540), which is included in Walch’s edition of Luther’s Werke xxi. 186.
St. Paul says, we must watch so as not to sin. The world must watch against poverty, against disturbance of the peace, or against enemies, so that all may be well with people and country. But our watching serves to end sin and to prosper and preserve righteousness; it serves the reign of faith and of love and the extermination of unbelief. This demands that we earnestly occupy ourselves with and cultivate God’s Word always and everywhere, snatch it up avidly, hear it, sing it, speak and read it gladly against the despicable satiety and indolence of which I have spoken. Then we will have our castle and fortress well guarded and all holes closed to keep the devil from stealing in. Otherwise, if I or others fail to preach with diligence and if you do not hear it or are practiced in it, imagining that you are well acquainted with it—that is not watching or warding off but slumbering, letting your head droop, indeed, it is snoring right in the midst of the devil’s guns and spears and affording him a good and safe place for breaking in and ascending into the castle without difficulty.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 28: 1 Corinthians 7, 1 Corinthians 15, Lectures on 1 Timothy, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, 1 Co 15:34 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).
This is the Heckler&Koch MK23, a pistol specifically developed for the US Navy Seals, to provide them a pistol they could use in their highly specialized missions, as an offensive handgun. I was a able to pick one up at a great price from a kind person, before they were discontinued…..and, well, they are simply fun. What more can I say?
When I reflect on World War II and the incredible sacrifices made by so many of my countrymen, it is a true honor to be able to shoot one of the rifles that helped us defeat the Nazi evil and Japanese Imperial corruption.
A couple of years ago, I was able to spend some time with my friend Todd Wilken, on Issues, Etc. talking about Bach. And, here’s the link to the interview. Also, a reader pointed me to where the great BBC documentary on Sacred Music can be purchased. The episode on Bach titled “J.S. Bach and the Lutheran Legacy” is very good, the best, and frankly, only, documentary that actually “gets” Bach. Here’s a link to where you can buy it via Amazon.
One of the world’s premier interpreters and conductors of Bach music is the Japanese musician Masaaki Suzuki. And he gets Bach, unlike many Westerners. I am sick and tired of discussions of Bach by secularists who do everything they can to avoid, dismiss, denigrate and intentionally ignore the fact that J.S. Bach was an orthodox Lutheran Christian. It is the height of intellectual dishonesty to do so. But not Suzuki. I was reading my friend, Pastor Weedon’s blog and he has a great post of some YouTube clips of Suzuki performing Bach and Robin Lee offered this comment [the Bach clips follow]:
I like what Masaaki Suzuki wrote in the liner notes to the first recording of Bach Collegium Japan. Responding to the question of how the Japanese could “dare play the music of Bach”, Suzuki wrote:
“… [T]he God in whose service Bach laboured and the God I worship today are one and the same. In the sight of the God of Abraham, I believe that the two hundred years separating the time of Bach from my own day can be of little account. This conviction has brought the great composer very much closer to me. We are fellows in faith, and equally foreign in our parentage to the people of Israel, God’s people of Biblical times. Who can be said to approach more nearly the spirit of Bach: a European who does not attend church and carries his Christian cultural heritage mostly on the subconscious level, or an Asian who is active in his faith although the influence of Christianity on his national culture is small?”
One of my favorite aggregation sites is called “The Gun Wire,” I’ve struck up a friendship with the guy who runs it, he is a great guy and has really worked hard at this site. The site shares the good, the bad and the ugly of all things guns and gear and shooting and gun related news. It’s simple and simply gives you a ton of links to follow. You can spend hours reading everything posted.
This is the consolation we derive from yonder life, that God Himself will be ours and that He will be everything to us. For picture to yourself all that you would like to have, and you will find nothing better and dearer and worth wishing for than to have God Himself, who is the life and an inexhaustible depth of everything good and of eternal joy. There is nothing more precious on earth than life. The whole world dreads nothing more than death and desires nothing more than life. And this treasure we are to have in Him without measure and without end. There the sky will rain down talers and gold, if you should choose, the Elbe be filled with pearls and other gems, the earth yield all kinds of delight, so that, at your word, a tree will bear nothing but silver leaves and golden apples and pears, the fields will bear grass and flowers which shine like emeralds and other beautiful gems. In short, whatever delights your heart shall be yours abundantly. For we read that God Himself will be everything to everyone. But wherever God is, all good things that one may wish for must also be present.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 28: 1 Corinthians 7, 1 Corinthians 15, Lectures on 1 Timothy, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, 1 Co 15:28 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is acknowledged as one of the most famous and gifted of all composers past and present in the entire western world. Orphaned at the age of ten, Bach studied with various family members but was mostly self-taught in music.
He began his professional career as conductor, performer, composer, teacher, and organ consultant at age 19 in the town of Arnstadt. He traveled wherever he received good commissions and steady employment, ending up in Leipzig, where the last 27 years of his life found him serving as Kantor, responsible for all music in the city’s four Lutheran churches.
Acclaimed more in his own time as a superb keyboard artist, the majority of his compositions fell into disuse following his death, which musicologists use to date the end of the Baroque Period and the beginning of the Classical Era. However, his compositional ability was rediscovered, in large part due to the efforts of Felix Mendelssohn. The genius and sheer magnitude of Bach’s vocal and instrumental compositions remain overwhelming. Also, whether due to nature or nurture, he was but one of the giants in, perhaps, the most talented musical family of all time.
Christendom especially honors J. S. Bach, a staunch and devoted Lutheran, for his lifelong insistence that his music was written primarily for the liturgical life of the Church, glorifying God and edifying His people. For an overview of the Christological basis of his work and a strong argument that he was among the theological giants of Lutheranism, please read J. S. Bach: Orthodox Lutheran Theologian?.
Today we remember his “heavenly birthday,” for it was on 28 July AD 1750 that the Lord translated Mr. Bach to glory.
Soli deo gloria — To God alone the glory! These words appear on most manuscripts of Bach’s compositions as testimony to his faith and his idea of music’s highest, noblest use.
A friend, Mr. Bob Myers, drew this to my attention. It would be best for you to watch this while it still remains up on YouTube. This is a recent documentary that offers a fairly good overview of the Reformation and the work of J.S. Bach as the servant of the Lutheran Church that he was, laboring away in near obscurity, using limited resources. It’s kind of quirky, in a typically British way. It is good that it focuses on the music as Bach actually wrote it and for the purpose he wrote it. Everyone is familiar with Bach’s instrumental works, but in fact his massive cycles of Church cantatas are his greatest achievements. This documentary “gets it” as well, if not better, than anything I’ve seen before. There are some great scenes filmed in St. Mary’s Church, Wittenberg; St. Thomas, Leipzig, and St. George, Eisenach. The churches are not always clearly identified. It’s a shame they didn’t subtitle the chorales and cantatas as they were sung. But that’s often the way it is: people focus more on the music and not the words, which, to Bach, were the most important reason why he wrote his music. The Word of God was conveyed by Bach’s music in powerful ways, but it is not the music, per se, that is the thing, it is the Word of God, and … most importantly and significantly of all Bach was interested in conveying Christ and Him crucified. This aspect of his work is hinted at but never specifically articulated. We can only assume the American Lutheran pastor who is interviewed in this piece did explicitly confess Christ, but his remarks were edited out. That’s usually how it is with Bach. People grow increasingly uncomfortably the more specifically Christian the talk gets. But Bach’s great church music was all about Christ. They can’t help but tell us that when they feature the popular chorale from Bach’s Cantata 147, Jesus, Joy of Man’s Desiring.
Renowned actor and former chorister Simon Russell Beale explores the flowering of Western sacred music in this documentary series for BBC FOUR. Simon’s travels bring him to Germany where Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation led to a musical revolution and ultimately to the glorious works of Johann Sebastian Bach. Luther, a Catholic monk who was also a composer, had a profound effect on the development of sacred music. He re-defined the role of congregational singing and the use of the organ in services. Crucially he also developed the hugely important tradition of singing in the vernacular which would characterize protestant worship for the next 500 years. Martin Luther’s reforms – and the century and a half of music that followed – shaped the world of JS Bach. Although today he is considered by many to be one of the greatest composers in history, in reality Bach spent most of his life working for the church and unknown to anyone outside of a small part of Germany. Simon’s journey includes Eisenach, in Eastern Germany, where Bach was born and the extraordinary space of the Thomaskirke in Leipzig where the composer spent much of his career. Here he discovers how Johann Sebastian Bach was in many ways a one man music factory, who for many years produced for the church work of the very highest quality, week after week after week. Bach wrote over a thousand pieces of music, and nearly two thirds of them he produced for the Lutheran Church. Throughout the programme, in the period setting of St George’s Lutheran Church in East London, conductor Harry Christophers leads singers from ‘The Sixteen’ and a small group of baroque instrumentalists through some of the key repertoire – including: ‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring’, one of Bach’s most celebrated religious works, which is based on a Lutheran hymn tune.
HT: Bob Myers.
Lutherans, ask yourself why it is that it takes the BBC to do a documentary like this, and why “we” can’t muster the will and resources to produce this. I say this to our shame. While we fritter away our time chasing after whatever is popular in American Evangelicalism, the very things that can, and do, make Lutheranism an absolutely unique and distinct confession of Christianity are ignored, set aside, or worse yet, spoken of with derision—by Lutherans! Lord, have mercy on us all.