Worship Helps for Pentecost 13
Artist: Nathan Greene
Artwork: The Roman Centurion
Worship Theme: Four weeks of warnings for Christians begins on this Sunday that the life of faith will be marked by difficulties. These warnings are given so that the believer will be prepared to meet these challenges with the confidence of the cross. We see that the Word of God doesn’t always unite—it also divides. The living and active Word of God does not bring peace between believers and unbelievers, but division.
Old Testament: Jeremiah 23:23-29
"Am I only a God nearby," declares the LORD, "and not a God far away? 24 Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the LORD. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the LORD. 25 "I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, 'I had a dream! I had a dream!' 26 How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? 27 They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name, just as their fathers forgot my name through Baal worship. 28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?" declares the LORD. 29 "Is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
1. With whom is the Lord disgusted in these verses?
2. How does the Lord describe his Word in verse 29? Why does he describe it this way?
Epistle: Ephesians 6:10-20
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
3. We are at war, not against ourselves or against other people. With whom are we at war?
4. How do we arm ourselves for this war?
Gospel: Luke 12:49-53
"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! 51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
5. What misperception do many people have about Jesus and his work?
6. Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace” in Isaiah 9? Why would he say that he did not come to bring peace?
7. Why are Jesus and his teaching so divisive in our world?
1. The Lord is disgusted with the false prophets who are teaching falsehoods in his name. He doesn’t put up with any error whatsoever, but he is especially angry when people use his name to promote and defend their errors.
2. The Lord says that his Word is like a fire and a hammer. It stands in total opposition to falsehood and ultimately destroys it. God does not permit a mixing of the truth of his Word with human lies; neither should we.
3. We are at war against the devil and his well-organized army of demons.
4. We arm ourselves for this war by putting on the full armor of God, so we can take our stand against Satan and his schemes. We also pray in the Spirit for ourselves and for all God’s saints on earth.
5. Many people think that Jesus came to bring worldly peace and social justice. Instead, Jesus points out in these verses that he and his teachings divide people into those who trust and worship him and those who don’t.
6. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and he did come to bring peace—but not worldly peace. Instead, Jesus came to bring peace between sinful human beings and his holy heavenly Father, and through his life, death and resurrection he has done just that (Romans 5:1).
7. Jesus and his teaching are divisive, since he proclaims absolute truth. In fact, he is the absolute Truth (John 14:6). In a world filled with false ideas about “relative truth,” Jesus boldly states that we must either be for him or against him (Luke 11:23). Either he is our Lord, or he is not. Neutrality is impossible. So there are two kinds of people worldwide. Families divide over Jesus, too, as Christians find themselves needing to speak the truth in love and to reject all falsehood. (On the impossibility of compromise, see 2 Corinthians 6:12-7:1).
Putting your faith into action
The Lord Jesus himself warns us that, as his children, we will experience severe trials. Our faith might even be tested to the point of having to choose between submitting to the false beliefs of those who are near and dear to us or to follow the true way of Christ. We will not give up the faith. There is too much to lose: our dear Savior, forgiveness, and everlasting life. Our gracious God, who sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for sin, gives us all that we need for our body and soul.
Paul says, “Our citizenship is in heaven” And, “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”
Our teachers distinguish between the duties of these two authorities [state and church]. They command that both be honored and acknowledged as God’s gifts and blessings.
If bishops have any authority of the State, this is not because they are bishops. In other words, it is not by the Gospel’s commission. It is an authority they have received from kings for the purpose of administering the civil affairs. This is another office, not the ministry of the Gospel.
The bishops’ civil authority must be distinguished from the Church’s jurisdiction. The only authority that belongs to the bishops is what they have according to the Gospel. For they have been given the ministry of the Word and Sacraments. They have no other authority according to the Gospel than the authority to forgive sins, to judge doctrine, to reject doctrines contrary to the Gospel, and to exclude from the communion of the Church wicked people, whose wickedness is known. They cannot exclude people with human force, but simply by the Word. But when they teach or establish anything against the Gospel, then the congregations are forbidden by God’s command to obey them. Beware of false prophets. (Matt. 7:15) – The Augsburg Confession, Article XXVIII, Church Authority (paragraphs 16-23)
Hymns: 537; 523; 455; 457; 474
1 Onward, Christian soldiers, Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus Going on before.
Christ, the royal master, Leads against the foe;
Forward into battle See his banners go!
Onward, Christian soldiers, Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus Going on before.
2 Like a mighty army Moves the Church of God;
Brothers, we are treading Where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, All one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, One in charity.
3 Crowns and thrones may perish, Kingdoms rise and wane,
But the Church of Jesus Constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never ’Gainst that Church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, And that cannot fail.
4 Onward, then, ye faithful; Join the happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices In the triumph song:
Glory, laud, and honor Unto Christ the King;
This through countless ages Saints and angels sing.
Text: Sabine Baring-Gould, 1834–1924, abr., alt.