8TH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY, 7-26-2015
Called to Bear the Cross
Vicar Brad Akey


    What is a prophet? Amos, Joel, and Daniel, all have prophetic books in the Old Testament. The three-fold office which Jesus Christ fulfills, is not only the Priest and the King, but also the Prophet. But, I have not really answered the question. What if I say that Pastor Wieting is a prophet, does that clear things up? Many people think of a prophet as someone who tells of the future, or “prophesies.” But that is not entirely what a prophet is. A prophet, by definition is one who speaks revelations from God. Amos, Joel, Daniel and all the other prophets of the Old Testament spoke revelations which God gave to them, often dealing with the future. Jesus Christ as a prophet, told of the laws of God and the grace of God which He Himself embodied. And still today God uses pastors as tools to preach His Word into your hearts. All of the readings today spoke of false prophets coming in, looking for prey, looking for you.  


The Good Shepherd protects His flock from the wolves, whom Christ does not know, and casts them into the fire.


    This pericope is leading into the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. The whole sermon has been a time of instruction, guidance, and gifts from our Lord. Jesus opens with the Beatitudes, a description of Himself and what He gives to His Church. Then, He continues with a time of instruction of the behavior of a Christian, when He discusses divorce, lusting, dealing with your enemies, and as we have heard, our anger. Christ then guides and strengthens his hearers saying, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all things will be added to you and knock and the door shall be opened to you. Then our Lord concludes with warning His people.







SERMON FOR THE 8TH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY, 7-26-2015
Called to Bear the Cross
Vicar Brad Akey


    What is a prophet? Amos, Joel, and Daniel, all have prophetic books in the Old Testament. The three-fold office which Jesus Christ fulfills, is not only the Priest and the King, but also the Prophet. But, I have not really answered the question. What if I say that Pastor Wieting is a prophet, does that clear things up? Many people think of a prophet as someone who tells of the future, or “prophesies.” But that is not entirely what a prophet is. A prophet, by definition is one who speaks revelations from God. Amos, Joel, Daniel and all the other prophets of the Old Testament spoke revelations which God gave to them, often dealing with the future. Jesus Christ as a prophet, told of the laws of God and the grace of God which He Himself embodied. And still today God uses pastors as tools to preach His Word into your hearts. All of the readings today spoke of false prophets coming in, looking for prey, looking for you.  


The Good Shepherd protects His flock from the wolves, whom Christ does not know, and casts them into the fire.


    This pericope is leading into the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. The whole sermon has been a time of instruction, guidance, and gifts from our Lord. Jesus opens with the Beatitudes, a description of Himself and what He gives to His Church. Then, He continues with a time of instruction of the behavior of a Christian, when He discusses divorce, lusting, dealing with your enemies, and as we have heard, our anger. Christ then guides and strengthens his hearers saying, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all things will be added to you and knock and the door shall be opened to you. Then our Lord concludes with warning His people.


Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Here the false prophets are specifically designated. “It can be taken as a general warning for any office which is entrusted with expounding the divine Word.”  Scripture also says From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. (Luke 12) Those who have been given God’s Word will be held accountable for how they handle it. The true prophets will use it as God commands; take it to the ends of the earth and not add or subtract from it. However, the false prophets will imbed their own ideology, goals, and interpretations corrupting His already perfect Word.


    This is a clear violation of the 2nd Commandment. Luther notes in the Large Catechism, “The greatest abuse, however, occurs in spiritual matters, which pertain to the conscience, when false preachers arise and peddle their lying nonsense as the Word of God.” It is as Paul says, I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. This is the time we are in right now and the false prophets are extremely common now-a-days.


You have heard of the Theology of Glory and the Theology of the Cross. “The Theologian of glory adds to the perfidy [the intensity] of false speech by trying to assure us that God, of course, has nothing to do with suffering and evil. God is ‘good,’ the rewarder of all our ‘good’ works, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow of merit. But is this prettified God the God of the Bible?” Or are these Theologians the wolves trying to sell you their version of how they want God to be? They look past the cross, in the attempt to find a deeper meaning. Yet Jesus said, Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. The Theologian of glory with their prettified God leads down wrong directions. “Wolves kill sheep. False teachers kill souls.” But the Theologian of the Cross, looks only to the cross. The Theologian of the Cross knows that everything that he needs, happened upon that tree.


In this world there are a prevalent amount of examples. Luther notes, “The wolf is found everywhere - in the church, in secular government, in the management of the home – and watches how he might cut people adrift from the Word.” Universalism, the idea that all religions inevitably end up in the same place is actually quite common. Syncretism, the idea of combining aspects of different religions to make one super religion is also quite common. I have had a discussion with a man who claimed to be both Buddhist and Roman Catholic. He liked the false idea of reincarnation to a point, and thought that once he had done enough good, he would go to heaven. That is not an accurate depiction of either religion. Yet the idea of picking and choosing aspects that you like is prevalent. It is also not something that is brand new in the 21st century. Thomas Jefferson’s cut and paste bible is famous for deleting all the miracles, and supernatural occurrences, such as the resurrection of our Lord. He kept only the parts which he liked and agreed with.


Christ then tells us, You will recognize them by their fruits. “We can’t have one without the other. Works without faith are dead; faith without works is dead.” So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. A false prophet may invoke the name of God and say these sweet and pleasing things, “for this is the way that poisonous mouths deceive the innocent, posing as dearest friends, though really they are the worst enemies.” But we are called to look at their fruit.

 

How do we recognize the fruits? “They have an appearance of a spiritual life and yet at root are all world and flesh.” That fruit involves both their works and their doctrine. If their foundation is based upon flawed human reason, the corruption of the world, or the heresies of others, they will be cut down and thrown into the fire. Their false fruit may include worldly gains, such as money, power, or other desires of the world. But they may include someone who is trying to do right by God, such as the individual who believes that he is both Buddhist and Roman Catholic. There are no worldly benefits to gain, but he would instead self-sacrifice for others to do what he thought his version of God would want. But he is a false prophet, because he does not preach Christ crucified.


How do we avoid such poison and falsity, especially with our Old Adam, who constantly tempts us to speak God’s Word unfaithfully? We, just as the false prophets, are tempted to corrupt His perfect Word. Luther notes, “For where a Christian is diligent, possessing nothing more than the catechism, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the words of our Lord about Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar, he could defend himself very nicely with them and hold his own against all heresies.” Through these treasures, the Holy Spirit has prepared us to defend ourselves. By God’s grace we are able to weasel out any false prophets trying to poison us with their lies.

 

Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. These are two very different commands. To the false prophet He says go ahead and say whatever you want, for I never knew you. But let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. Dear believers you have His Word. He has put His Word on you at your baptism. As we prayed in the Collect, we are unable to do anything that is good without God.  He has nurtured and raised that seed of faith in you in order that you bear good fruit. And with that good fruit, we are commanded to speak His Word faithfully. Pastors are to do this in their office. We are to do this in our vocation. And we strive to do so, knowing that none of our failings stand against us. Why?


It is precisely for that imperfection, that Christ was thrown into the fire. He became the embodiment of our sin. He was the one forsaken by the Father. It is as if the Father said to Him, I never knew you; depart from me, you worker of lawlessness. So complete is His sacrifice!

 

So hear again where Christ says, Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? And we know that the answer is obviously no. But consider the blood which flows from the thorns which pierced Jesus’ head. That blood Christ uses to fill the cup of our salvation. Unlike the earthly wine which when drunk in excess will be to our detriment, this cup of His blood overflows with the promise of His absolution.

 

As we sang, “You suffered death to save us, because Your love would have us, be heirs of heav’nly gladness, when ends this life of sadness” (LSB 745). He will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death, in order that we may dwell in the house of the Lord forever. He will not let the wolves in sheep’s clothing enter in. To them he will say, depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. It is then that we will enjoy the heav’nly gladness. It is there that we will no longer be in this life of sadness.


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a