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And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Galatians 6:16-17

Those who hold to the teaching of salvation through faith alone and by grace alone for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ and His innocent sufferings and death on the cross receive God’s mercy and the peace of sins forgiven and are the true Israel of God. The true Israel holds to this teaching even though it brings persecution from those who advocate circumcision and the keeping of the worship laws of the Old Testament.

Grant that I trust in Thee alone, O Christ, and not yield for a moment to the pressures of those who advocate a return to the law for our salvation. Amen.

[Scrpture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (Acts 2 from the KJV — Pure Cambridge Edition)

1. What does the Bible tell us about the Old Testament feast of Shavuot (Weeks) or Pentecost? See Ex. 23:14ff.; 34:22f.; Lev. 23:15ff.; Deut. 16:9ff. Why is it called Pentecost? By what other names was it called? Who was required to be in Jerusalem at the temple for this feast?

2. What happened on the Pentecost following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension? Did the disciples choose to speak in tongues? Who was administering this sign? How is this different than the tongue-speaking which some claim and promote today? Cf. 1 Cor. 12:1ff.

3. Why were the people gathered in Jerusalem amazed and confounded? What did they hear and see?

4. What did some say was the cause? How did Peter answer that accusation?

5. What did Peter say was happening? What Old Testament prophecy was being fulfilled?

6. Read Joel 2:28-32. How was this prophecy fulfilled by what happened on the Day of Pentecost? What parts of the prophecy continue to be fulfilled today? Which parts are yet to be fulfilled and when will that happen? Cf. Matt. 24:29ff.; Luke 21:25ff.; Rev. 1:7; 6:12ff.

7. What does Peter say about Jesus? What had happened to Him? Why? Who witnessed His resurrection? See v. 22-24.

8. What Biblical proof does Peter offer for his claims about Jesus? See v. 25-28 ; Psalm 16:8-11. What does David say of Jesus?

9. How does Peter prove that David was speaking of the promised Messiah (Christ) and not of himself? See v. 29-31. What application do David’s words have to us as believers?

10. How does Peter’s preaching relate to Jesus’ words in Luke 24:44-48?

11. What does Peter tell the people of Jesus in v. 32-36? What other Scripture prophecy does Peter say is fulfilled in Jesus? Cf. Psalm 2:4ff.; Psalm 110:1.

12. What does Peter tell his audience of Jews and God-fearing Gentiles in v. 23 and v. 36? How are we also guilty of the same? Cf. Isa. 53:6.

13. What was the response of Peter’s hearers? What did they ask Peter and the other apostles? How does God’s law have a similar effect on us today? See v. 37; cf. Rom. 3:19-20.

14. What did Peter call upon his hearers to do? See. v. 38-40. What does this mean for Peter’s hearers and for us today? To whom do Peter’s words apply? How does that relate to the baptizing of infants and children?

15. What does it mean to repent? Why were they to be baptized? What does it mean to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ? What blessings were promised? Cf. Matt. 28:19; Acts 22:16; Tit. 3:3-7; John 3:3-8; Gal. 3:26-29.

16. How do these words apply yet today? Do we still call upon people to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus? What is an untoward generation and do we live in one? Cf. v. 40.

17. What was the result of Peter’s Pentecost sermon? How were these the first fruits of God’s harvest?

18. When were those who heeded Peter’s message baptized? Why? Cf. Acts 8:35ff.; 22:16.

19. In what did the first disciples continue? See v. 42. What does this mean? How should this apply yet today?

20. What does v. 43 mean? Why did this happen? Cf. Mark 16:15-20. Why does God not need to work such signs today?

21. What else did the early church in Jerusalem do in response to the Gospel? See v. 44-45. Why? Are we still required to do this today? What are we commanded to do in regard to our fellow believers?

22. How did the early church in Jerusalem meet without a church building? Is there anything we can learn from this today? How did this make it possible to preach the Word to all and yet pray together, fellowship and partake of the Lord’s Supper among the believers?

23. Why were they able to be together in gladness and singleness of heart? Who made this possible?

24. Who added to the church daily? Who adds to the church today? How? Cf. Rom. 10:17; John 6:63; AC V.

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“The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.” John 6:52-59

How can one eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood? The Jews did not grasp Jesus’ meaning, nor do many in our day.

Jesus is not indicating that Christianity is some kind of cult in which the faithful literally eat human flesh and drink human blood. Even in the Lord’s Supper, participants do not chew Jesus’ flesh and drink and digest His blood. Rather, as they partake of the bread and wine, they partake of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for the sins of all the world — His body given into death for our sins and His blood shed for the remission of our sins.

But Jesus’ words in John 6:52-59 are not a specific reference to the Supper Jesus later commanded His followers to observe in remembrance of Him and His innocent sufferings and death on their behalf. The Lord’s Supper had not yet been instituted when Jesus spoke these words. And, if He were referring specifically to partaking of the Lord’s Supper, then those not able to partake of Christ’s Supper, regardless of the reason, could not be saved and have life in them.

Rather, Jesus here refers to partaking of His body and blood by faith. The children of Israel ate of the manna from heaven and yet died. Those who partake of Jesus’ body and blood — of His sacrifice for the sins of the world — by faith in Him have eternal life and Jesus will raise them up on the Last Day!

Jesus says in no uncertain words, “For my flesh truly is food, and my blood truly is drink” (John 6:55 translated literally from the Greek).

The one who partakes of Jesus, the Bread of Life, by faith — trusting in Christ Jesus who gave His body into death for our sins and shed His blood upon the cross to make atonement for all our iniquities — has forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. As Jesus said, “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.”

People look to Jesus for earthly bread. They come to Him in hopes that He will provide them with all their earthly wants and desires. But few recognize that Jesus came into this world to provide us with heavenly food — with food which nourishes our souls unto life eternal.

Jesus came into this world to fulfill the righteous demands of God’s law for us. And He came to be our sacrifice for sin — to offer up Himself on the cross as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He gave His body into death upon the cross in full payment for your sins and my sins. He shed His blood upon the cross as our sacrifice for sin and made full atonement for us and all the world before the very throne of God.

The question is this: Do you partake of Him? Do you trust in His holy life and His innocent sufferings and death for the forgiveness of all your sins? If you do not partake of Jesus, you can have no life in you; you are eternally lost and condemned. If you do, through faith, partake of His flesh and blood, you have the forgiveness Jesus won for you when He gave His body into death and shed His holy and precious blood to make atonement for your sins and redeem you.

When we, in this way, eat His flesh and drink His blood, Jesus dwells in us — not in the sense that He enters our mouth and passes through our digestive system, but in the sense that He comes into us and gives us life in fellowship with the Father.

It’s really as simple as this: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12).

If we partake of Jesus’ holy life and His bitter sufferings and death for all sin by placing our trust and confidence in Him, we have life. Jesus Himself comes to us, dwells in us by His Spirit, and gives us spiritual and eternal life in fellowship with the Father. If we do not partake of Jesus and His sacrifice — if we go it alone and on our own, so to speak — we remain dead in our sins and under the wrath and condemnation of God.

In John, chapter three, Jesus says it this way: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (v. 15-18).

Those who believe and trust in Christ Jesus, the eternal Son of God made flesh, are saved and have life because Christ gave His body and shed His blood for the remission of all sins. They partake of His body and blood and of the benefits Jesus won for them through faith.

On the other hand, those who do not trust in Christ’s body and blood given and shed for all mankind are condemned. Why? Because they reject the only way of salvation God has provided for them — in His Son!

Jesus said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).

Jesus gave His life for you. His body was nailed to the cross to suffer for your sins and mine. He shed His blood for you when He made atonement for the sins of the whole world. His flesh is food indeed and His blood is drink indeed to nourish our souls and to give to all who partake of Him through faith everlasting life!

God grant you to partake of Jesus, the Bread of Life, and to drink of His blood shed for the remission of your sins through faith in Him! Then, you will have life!

O merciful Father, grant us faith in Messiah Jesus, the Son. Grant that we eat His flesh and drink His blood through faith, trusting in His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. Amen.

Jesus, the Bread from Heaven

“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.” John 6:60-71

Jesus had told His hearers (John 6:53-58): “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.”

Jesus’ words were hard for His hearers to understand and accept. How could Jesus give them His body and blood to eat and drink? What did Jesus mean by these words? How could partaking of Jesus give eternal life? How could Jesus say those who didn’t partake of Him had no life?

All these things were above and beyond the understanding of Jesus’ hearers. It’s not that they are so difficult to understand. Rather, they are spiritually discerned and sinful human beings cannot understand apart from the gracious enlightening of the Holy Spirit. It was as the Bible teaches, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).

Thus, the people asked, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (John 6:52). They did not understand who Jesus was or that He was about to go to the cross to suffer and die for the sins of the world. They did not know and believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and would offer Himself up for sin and then rise again from death in victory. They did not understand that Jesus was inviting them to partake of His body given into death for them and His blood shed for the remission of their sins through faith in His sufferings, death and resurrection on their behalf.

Without partaking by faith in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, they could have no life in them. They remained dead in their sins and lost to God and to His everlasting kingdom! But all this seemed foolishness to them; they didn’t understand and believe. They didn’t partake of Jesus’ body and blood given and shed for them, but went away in unbelief and were dead in their sins.

When the Word of God is preached today, the result is many times the same.

“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:13-14).

When we preach and proclaim that all are sinners and that only in Messiah Jesus is there salvation, people are offended and turn away. They do not see and recognize their own utter sinfulness in God’s eyes. Nor do they understand that the only way for sinners to be saved is to partake by faith of Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world by His innocent sufferings and death on the cross. And so, rather than acknowledge their own sinfulness and shortcomings, people turn away from their only Savior and refuse to partake of Jesus and His sacrifice for the sins of the world.

What was true when Jesus spoke to the Jews in His day remains true yet today: “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.”

Even a good number of Jesus’ own disciples were offended at Jesus’ words. They were not ready to acknowledge their own sins and failures before God. Nor did they believe that Jesus was God the Son in human flesh come into this world to go to the cross and redeem mankind. The preaching of the cross and partaking of Jesus, their sacrificial Lamb, by faith was a stumbling block to the Jews — it wasn’t the kind of Messiah for whom they looked.

And with the apostle Paul, true followers of Jesus still proclaim “Christ crucified” today, though this preaching remains to the Jews, a stumbling block, and to the rest of the world, foolishness (cf. 1 Cor. 1:23). They do not take hold of the truth because they can’t apart from God’s Spirit. And if people can’t understand and believe the works Jesus did here in this world, how could they begin to understand His glorious workings in heaven, at the right hand of God the Father?

Jesus said, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.”

Jesus’ words — His teaching and doctrine — were spirit-breathed. They were God’s own words and His divine wisdom. They were and still are spiritually discerned. With our own flesh and human understanding, we cannot begin to grasp the divine truth proclaimed by the Lord Jesus. We cannot come to Jesus and trust in Him for salvation unless God the Father graciously grants this to us. In our spiritual darkness, we ask, “How can Jesus give us His body and blood? How can we partake of Him? How can eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood by faith give us eternal life?”

Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life.” It is the Spirit of God who, through the Word of God, reveals our utter sinfulness and how far short we have come of God’s perfect righteousness. And, it is the Spirit of God who, through the Word of God, assures us that Christ Jesus fulfilled the righteous demands of God’s law for us and then went to the cross and suffered and died for our sins and the sins of the whole world and rose again on the third day.

The Spirit of God reveals to us Jesus, our Messiah and Savior, and moves us to partake of His sacrifice through faith — trusting that, because He gave His body into death for us and shed His blood for the remission of our sins, our sins are indeed paid for in full; atonement is made. The Spirit of God assures us that in Christ Jesus, through faith in His name, we have forgiveness for all our sins and life everlasting. It is the Spirit of God, working through the Word, who points us to Jesus and says, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Many of Jesus’ disciples, because they didn’t grasp His words and the truth of God, turned back and quit following Jesus. Today, many, because they don’t grasp Jesus’ Word and the true doctrine of God, turn back and quit following Jesus. Even entire “churches” and denominations turn aside from the truth of God’s Word and quit proclaiming it because they do not understand and believe. Since the truth of God’s Word is offensive to them, they’d rather not hear it proclaimed.

What about you? Will you also turn back from following Jesus? His Word and His teaching are not always easy for us to accept and embrace. His Word reveals just how sinful we are, and it tells us that our ways are not God’s ways.

Simon Peter answered Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus still has the words of eternal life! His Word reaches out to us with the good news of God’s gift from heaven, the only-begotten Son who went to the cross to bear the just punishment for the sins of the world. Jesus calls us to partake of Him by faith — of His body given into death for us and of His blood shed for the remission of all our sins. He promises us that when we partake of Him by faith, we will not be condemned along with the wicked world in which we live but have everlasting life in His heavenly kingdom.

It is as the Scriptures declare: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).

God grant to you His Holy Spirit and enlighten your eyes to the truth of His Word that you might not turn away from following Christ Jesus, but humbly acknowledge your sinfulness and partake of Him and His sacrifice for sin by faith that you might also partake of the forgiveness and life eternal Christ Jesus won for you.

O merciful Father, grant us faith in Messiah Jesus, the Son. Grant that we eat His flesh and drink His blood through faith, trusting in His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. In Jesus’ holy and precious name. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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Why Use the Athanasian Creed?

Today is Trinity Sunday, a day in the church year devoted to reminding us who the true God of the Bible is, over against the many false concepts and ideas about God that have been held at various times and in various places.

The Athanasian Creed, which we use on Trinity Sunday each year, is a confession of the true Christian Faith against the errors of those who confounded or rejected the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity or of the Person of Jesus Christ.

Early in the fourth century, a north African pastor named Arius taught that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was not true God in the sense of being eternal and equal to the Father but that He was created or begotten by God the Father at some point before the foundation of the world. Thus, his followers in North Africa and elsewhere did not believe the Son to be eternal or coequal with the Father or that Jesus is true God in the same sense as the Father is God.

And, sad to say, the errors of Arius which troubled the true Christian Church in the fourth century and afterward continue to plague “churches” today, with some denying the Trinity outright and others introducing subtle errors which make the Son less than or inferior to the Father in some way and often denying entirely the Person of the Holy Spirit.

One common misconception of the Trinity often expressed today is the ancient heresy of Modal Monarchianism — that God is one God who comes to us and deals with us in three different ways: sometimes as a loving heavenly father, sometimes as a son of God and our brother, and other times as a gentle and guiding spirit. A common illustration used is that of water which sometimes is solid, sometimes liquid and sometimes steam or vapor. This view holds to the unity of God but denies the trinity of persons.

The early church responded to the Arian heresies decisively in AD 325 at the Council of Nicea (the first ecumenical council) with the Creed of Nicea and again at the Council of Constantinople (the second ecumenical council) in 381 with the Nicene Creed (a statement of faith we still use in our Sunday services today to confess that Jesus is, in fact, not only true man but also true God, with the Father).

Thus, in the Nicene Creed, we confess of the Son: “And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father, before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made, who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried. And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead: whose kingdom shall have no end.”

In the Nicene Creed, we also confess of the Holy Spirit: “And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.”

And, toward the end of the fifth century, another creed was written that further defined the mystery of the Trinity revealed in the Bible. Though credited to Athanasius, a leading fourth-century opponent of Arius, the creed itself appears to have come later in the debate because it was written in Latin rather than Greek (the language of Athanasius) and doesn’t appear to have been used in the churches until well after the time of Athanasius.

The Athanasian Creed declares that its teachings concerning the Holy Trinity and our Lord’s incarnation are “the Catholic Faith.” In other words, this is what the true Church of all times and in all places has confessed. And, more than 15 centuries later, the true Church continues to confess these same Scriptural truths.

The creed also claims that one must hold to this true doctrine to be saved, adding also that those who reject these truths will be condemned eternally. For this reason, we count those who reject this doctrine to be outside the pale of Christianity.

And what does the Bible teach about the true God and who He is? Consider first what it says of the God who made us and all things.

“Who is the true God and our Maker?”

The Bible, which is God’s inspired Word, tells us: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

But who is this God of the Bible? Who is the Creator of the heavens and the earth? Who is the One who formed all of us in our mothers’ wombs and gave us life (Psalm 139:13-16)?

The Hebrew word Elohim in Genesis 1:1 is the plural form of God and is the name used to describe our Creator (cf. Gen. 1:26-27). He is also called by the name Jehovah or Yehovah (some pronounce the Hebrew name Yahweh), and it is often translated as LORD (with all uppercase letters) in our English Bibles.

“These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God [Yehovah Elohim] made the earth and the heavens …” (Gen. 2:4).

The Bible further defines God, when it says: “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (1 Cor. 8:6). Thus we see that all things were created by God the Father through Jesus Christ, who gave us life.

God’s creation account also tells us that, in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2). And so we see that the Holy Spirit, too, was active in the creation of all things.

The opening verses of St. John’s Gospel tell us: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4). We learn that the Word, Jesus Christ, identified in verse 14 as God Himself in the flesh and the only-begotten Son of the Father, already was in the beginning, that He was and is God, that He created all things and is the giver of life, both physical and spiritual.

In St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, the inspired Scriptures say of Christ Jesus, that He “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Col. 1:15-17).

So, who is the Creator? Who is the true God? It is God, the God the Scriptures identify for us as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Though God is one Being — “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” (Deut. 6:4) — God is also three Persons — thus, Jesus’ command to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19). This is why the God of the Bible is often called the Triune (three/one) God; He is one God and yet three distinct Persons. The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. Yet, there are not three Gods, but one God.

The Bible tells us, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (1 John 5:7).

Though beyond our ability to comprehend, this is how God has revealed Himself to us — it is His account and His word. And it is this God who has created all things and has given us life. This is the God Bible-believing Christians worship and serve. It is the God confessed in the ancient creeds of the church — the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed.

And any who do not worship and serve this true God (the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit) through faith in the Son do not worship and serve the true God who created us and gave us life, who redeemed us in the Son and who gives eternal life to all who believe in His name (cf. 1 John 5:11-12).

Jesus said in John 5:23: “All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.”

Jesus also said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by” Him (John 14:6; cf. Act 4:12).

And, Who provided for our salvation?

And who is our Savior? We see from our Gospel today (John 3:1-17) that the Triune God was at work in accomplishing our salvation.

The Father sent the Son to redeem us. We read in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The Son took on human flesh and blood and was lifted up for us. John 3:14-15 says: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

Or, in 1 John 2:1-2: “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

The Spirit works through Word and Sacrament to regenerate us and bring us to faith and preserve us in faith in Christ Jesus.

In John 3:3-8, we read: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

And, Baptism is called a “washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:26) and a “washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Tit. 3:5-7).

Therefore, it is the LORD God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — who has both created us and provided for us eternal salvation in the Son. He is the God in whom we and all believers place our trust. He is the God we worship and serve. And, He is the God we confess and profess today!

O LORD God, our Creator and Redeemer, one God, yet three Persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — we give You thanks for revealing Yourself and all You have done for us and our salvation in Your Word. Grant that we trust in You and honor You through faith in the Son and His innocent sufferings and death for us upon the cross. Amen.

Athanasian Creed

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic [TRUE CHRISTIAN] faith, which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

And the Catholic [TRUE CHRISTIAN] faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son: and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate: and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals: but one eternal. As there are not three uncreated, nor three incomprehensibles: but one uncreated and one incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty: and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet they are not three almighties: but one almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods: but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord: and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords: but one Lord.

For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity: to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the Catholic [CHRISTIAN] Religion: to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none: neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father, and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.

And in this Trinity none is before, or after other: none is greater, or less than another; but the whole three Persons are coeternal together, and coequal: so that in all things, as is aforesaid: the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation: that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess: that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Substance of the Father begotten before the worlds: and Man of the Substance of his mother, born in the world; perfect God, and perfect Man: of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead: and inferior to the Father, as touching his manhood. Who although he be God and Man: yet he is not two, but one Christ; one; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh: but by taking the manhood into God; one altogether; not by confusion of Substance: but by Unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man: so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation: descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven; he sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty: from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming, all men shall rise again with their bodies: and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting: and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

This is the Catholic [TRUE CHRISTIAN] faith: which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.

God the Father, be our Stay

1 God the Father, be our Stay;
Oh, let us perish never!
Cleanse us from our sins, we pray,
And grant us life forever.
Keep us from the Evil One;
Uphold our faith most holy,
Grant us to trust Thee solely
With humble hearts and lowly.
Let us put God’s armor on,
With all true Christian running
Our heav’nly race and shunning
The devil’s wiles and cunning.
Amen, amen, this be done;
So sing we, Hallelujah!

2 Jesus Christ, be Thou our Stay;
Oh, let us perish never!
Cleanse us from our sins, we pray,
And grant us life forever.
Keep us from the Evil One;
Uphold our faith most holy,
Grant us to trust Thee solely
With humble hearts and lowly.
Let us put God’s armor on,
With all true Christian running
Our heav’nly race and shunning
The devil’s wiles and cunning.
Amen, amen, this be done;
So sing we, Hallelujah!

3 Holy Ghost, be Thou our Stay;
Oh, let us perish never!
Cleanse us from our sins, we pray,
And grant us life forever.
Keep us from the Evil One;
Uphold our faith most holy,
Grant us to trust Thee solely
With humble hearts and lowly.
Let us put God’s armor on,
With all true Christian running
Our heav’nly race and shunning
The devil’s wiles and cunning.
Amen, amen, this be done;
So sing we, Hallelujah! Amen.

Title: God, the Father, Be Our Stay
German Title: Gott der Vater wohn’ uns bei
Translator: Richard Massie (1854, alt.)
Author: Unknown (c. 1400)

GOSPEL: John 3:1-15
THERE was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him. How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee. We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen: and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Notes and History

Origen (185-254) answers Modalism with Persons in the Godhead but with degrees of divinity (i.e., Christ was God but less divine than the Father, and the Holy Spirit less divine than the Son — perhaps influenced by gnostic philosophy about emanations or reflections of God becoming less and less pure as one moves away from the center, which would be God the Father ).

Arius (256-336), a preacher and bishop from Libya, rejected degrees of divinity, saying one is either God or not God, Creator or Creature. Arius taught that the Father is 100% God and the Creator. But Arius said the Son was begotten or created by the Father before the heavens and earth were created and that the Father then created the heavens and earth by means of the Son. He denied that the Son of God was uncreated or eternal. The Holy Spirit was viewed more as the means by which God worked rather than a person in the Godhead (bearing many similarities with Jehovah’s Witnesses today). And the Arian heresy spread because of civil rulers (“Christian” emperors) who supported the views of Arius.

Athanasius (296-373), bishop of Alexandria, led in the fight against Arianism, arguing that Christ is “homoousious” (of the same essence or substance) with the Father. He had on his tombstone: “Athanasius contra mundum” or “Athanasius against the world.” He was exiled and in hiding numerous times because of his profession to the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity.

At the Council of Nicea in 325 (the first ecumenical council — of believers from all the inhabited earth), the Creed of Nicea (not the Nicene Creed) was adopted which asserted that the Son was of the same substance with the Father, a statement Arius could not accept because he did not believe the Son was equal and of the same divine essence as the Father. But even though Arius was rebuked for his error and defrocked, he continued to defend his false beliefs and was supported in his views by rulers.

The controversy was resolved at the Council of Constantinople in 381 (the second ecumenical council) made possible by Emperor Theodosius. It was at this council that the Nicene Creed was formulated and adopted. The Nicene Creed is an expansion of the Creed of Nicea and the Cappadocian Fathers — Basil of Caesarea (330-379), Gregory of Nyssa (335-394) and Gregory of Nazianzus (330-390) — built upon the work of Athanasius to use ousia of the divine nature and hypostasis to speak of the reality of the divine Persons in the Godhead.

Filioque (“and from the Son”) was added by the Western Church in the Latin form of the Creed to reject Arianism in the late sixth century. This was used as a reason for the split between the churches of the East and the churches of the West in 1094.

The Athanasian Creed (often attributed to Athanasius) was likely formulated in the fifth century or later, based on a lack of references or usage prior to the fifth century and written in Latin rather than Greek (the language of Athanasius). It answers not only the Arian errors but the later errors of the monophysitism (which reduced the Person of Christ to one nature, a God-man nature which was neither purely divine nor purely human) and Nestorianism (which tried to maintain the two natures but taught that Christ was two persons, one human and one divine). Both of these heresies were clearly condemned at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 where it was stated that Jesus Christ is true God and true man and that the two natures existed in one Person without mixing, confusing, separating or dividing the two natures.

The Athanasian Creed reaffirms the statements and distinctions made at Chalcedon and affirms that Christ is fully God and fully man and that all three Persons of the Trinity are uncreated and eternal and that they are each God and yet only one God. Also affirmed is the doctrine that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and from the Son.

So, why do we confess the Nicene and the Athanasian Creeds? Isn’t the Apostles’ Creed good enough?

The Apostles’ Creed (based on the teaching of the apostles as recorded in the New Testament but probably not formulated until later) doesn’t specifically address the heresies which tore apart the church in the third through the fifth centuries. It appears to have been used in connection with baptisms and the instruction of new converts (as we do today in our catechetical studies).

Why do we teach Unity and Trinity of God?

Unity — Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4; Psalm 50:1; Isa. 37:16; 44:8

Trinity — Matt. 20:19; Gen. 1:1ff.; John 1:1ff.; Numbers 6:24ff.; 2 Cor. 13:14; Isa. 48:16f.; 1 Peter 1:3-5

Jesus Divine and human — John 1:1ff.; Matthew 1:18ff.; Luke 2:1-11; John 8:58; 10:30-33; 20:24-29; Rom. 1:3-4; Heb. 1:1ff.; Psalm 2; Psalm 110; Jer. 23:1ff.; 1 Tim. 2:5; Gal. 4:4ff.; Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Col. 1:15-16; 2:9; Tit. 2:13-14;

Why is this important?

To worship the true God who has revealed Himself to us in the Bible and not an image or concept of God of our own making (Ex. 20:2ff.)

Necessary for Christ to be true man, the Seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15; Gal 4:4-6; Heb. 2:14ff.) to take our place under the Law and redeem us.

Necessary for Him to be true God for His sacrifice to be sufficient to make atonement for all our sins (Psalm 49:7f.)

[Scripture is taken from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church
Affiliated with ELDoNA
(Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America)
“Holding Forth the Word of Life”
2305 S. Dixieland Road/P.O. Box 2335
Rogers, AR 72757
479-310-5289

www.goodshepherdrogers.org
www.bible-byte.net

Pentecost — Whitsunday

May 23, 2021

Order of Matins

V. O LORD, open Thou my lips. And my mouth shall show forth Thy praise.
V. Make haste, O God, to deliver me. Make haste to help me, O Lord.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Hallelujah.

V. O come, let us worship the Lord. For He is our Maker.

Venite
O COME, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving: and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God: and a great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is His also. The sea is His, and He made it: and His hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God: and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The Hymn: “Come, Holy Spirit, God and Lord!” by Martin Luther (1524)

1 Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord!
Be all Thy graces now outpoured
On each believer’s mind and heart;
Thy fervent love to them impart.
Lord, by the brightness of Thy light,
Thou in the faith dost men unite
Of every land and every tongue;
This to Thy praise, O Lord, our God, be sung.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

2 Thou holy Light, Guide Divine,
Oh, cause the Word of Life to shine!
Teach us to know our God aright
And call Him Father with delight.
From every error keep us free;
Let none but Christ our Master be
That we in living faith abide,
In Him, our Lord, with all our might confide.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

3 Thou holy Fire, Comfort true,
Grant us the will Thy work to do
And in Thy service to abide;
Let trials turn us not aside.
Lord, by Thy power, prepare each heart
And to our weakness strength impart
That bravely here we may contend,
Through life and death to Thee, our Lord, ascend.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Epistle: Acts 2:1-13
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another. What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

Gospel: John 14:23-31
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

Sermon: “Peter’s Pentecost Sermon” — Acts 2:14-47

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

We’ve heard what happened on the day of Pentecost when Jerusalem was filled with people come to celebrate the feast and when Jesus poured out His Holy Spirit upon His apostles, but I would like you to consider not my sermon but the sermon of the Apostle Peter which he preached on that feast of Pentecost following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. I read it to you from Acts 2:14ff.

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. 25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Peter pointed out to the people that what was happening, what they were seeing and hearing in their own native languages, was prophesied in the Old Testament by the prophet Joel (in Joel 2.) And then, using both the miracles of Jesus and His mighty workings, along with the testimony of God’s Word, Peter bore witness to the fact that Jesus — the same Jesus whom the rulers of the Jews had rejected and crucified — is none other than the Son of God, the promised Messiah and Savior of Israel, who is now risen from the dead and exalted to the right hand of God the Father in heaven and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

And, when the people realized that they had rejected and crucified the Lord’s Christ, the promised Messiah, they were troubled in their hearts and asked Peter and the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

We too need to consider Peter’s message, and we too need to be pricked and troubled in our hearts because we too have crucified the Lord’s Christ! It was for our sins that Jesus was scourged and beaten. It was for our sins that He was nailed to the cross. And it was for our sins that He was forsaken and condemned by God the Father and cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46).

Consider the words of Isaiah 53:4-6: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

And what was the Apostle Peter’s answer to the people? In Acts 2:38-39, we read: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

What does this mean? What did Peter tell the people to do? What does he tell us to do? To repent of our sinful and rebellious ways, to repent of our rejection and opposition to Christ, and to be baptized in His name, to put on Christ and let His blood cover us. Instead of rejecting the Lord’s Christ and opposing Christ and His Word, Peter calls upon us to turn from our erring ways and come to Christ and be baptized into Christ, which, of course, means to come to Christ in faith and to be baptized into Christ believing that He won for us and all mankind forgiveness of sins and eternal life by His innocent sufferings and death, by His atoning sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world!

And what does Peter promise His hearers? What does he promise to us today when we repent and are baptized into Jesus’ name according to His command in Matthew 28:19? “The remission of sins” and … the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Peter’s message is the same message as Ananias spoke to the Apostle Paul, as recorded in Acts 22:16: “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” When we repent and are baptized in Jesus’ name, God washes away our sins in Jesus’ blood and accepts us as His own dear children.

St. Paul writes to the Galatians (3:26-29): “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

When, by the grace of God, we trust in Christ as our Savior and are baptized in His name, we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. He takes up residence in our hearts, He teaches us of Jesus from God’s Word, and He strengthens and keeps us in the true and saving faith.

In the Gospel appointed for today, in John 14:26, Jesus said, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

And in Titus 3:4-7, we read: “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

When we repent and are baptized in Jesus’ name, we receive, through faith in God’s mercy, forgiveness for all our sins, and we receive the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, teaches us from God’s Word, reveals our sinfulness but also comforts us with the Gospel promises of forgiveness and life through faith in Christ Jesus, and preserves us in the true faith through Word and Sacrament unto life everlasting.

Paul wrote to the Philippians in Philippians 1:6, that He who has “begun a good work” in us will dwell in us and “perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

And, what was the result of Peter’s Pentecost sermon? We see the answer to that in Acts 2:41-42: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” A great many of Peter’s hearers were convicted in their hearts and repented of their sinful ways, being baptized in Jesus’ name and according to His command (in Matthew 28:19) for the remission of sins. And, they continued steadfastly in the doctrine and teaching of the apostles of our Lord Jesus. They practiced fellowship with those who held to the teaching of Christ’s apostles, they took Holy Communion with them and they joined together with them in prayer and praises. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (v. 47).

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, we thank Thee for bringing us to see and repent of our sinful ways, for bringing us to trust in Thee and to be baptized in Thy name, and for granting to us the gift of the Holy Ghost that we might be kept and preserved in the true and saving faith unto life everlasting. For the sake of Thy bitter sufferings and death in our stead, and Thy glorious resurrection and ascension, we pray. Amen.

The Canticle — Te Deum Laudamus
We praise Thee, O God, we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord. All the earth doth worship Thee, the Father everlasting. To Thee all Angels cry aloud, the heavens, and all the powers therein. To Thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth; Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy Glory. The glorious company of the Apostles praise Thee. The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise Thee. The noble army of Martyrs praise Thee. The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge Thee; the Father of an infinite Majesty; Thine adorable, true and only Son; also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ. Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father. When Thou tookest upon Thee to deliver man, Thou didst humble Thyself to be born of a Virgin. When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Thou sittest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father. We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge. We therefore pray Thee, help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood. Make them to be numbered with Thy saints in glory everlasting. O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine heritage. Govern them and lift them up for ever. Day by day we magnify Thee; and we worship Thy Name ever, world without end. Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin. O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us. O Lord, let Thy mercy be upon us as our trust is in Thee. O Lord, in Thee have I trusted, let me never be confounded.

Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, Who art in heaven; Hallowed by Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect
O GOD, Who didst teach the hearts of Thy faithful people, by sending to them the light of Thy Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.

Collect for Grace
O LORD, our Heavenly Father, Almighty and Everlasting God, who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day: Defend us in the same with Thy mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all our doings, being ordered by Thy governance, may be righteous in Thy sight; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

V. Bless we the Lord. R. Thanks be to God.

Benediction
THE Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Members desiring the Lord’s Supper but not comfortable attending services during the COVID-19 pandemic may call Pastor Moll at 479-233-0081 or email him at pastor@goodshepherdrogers.org and he will arrange a time to bring the Sacrament to them.

Online Services will continue each week via Facebook Live and with recorded YouTube videos posted on the church website after the service when we are back in the church building. The bulletin is posted and made available online. In addition, devotionals and sermon summaries are also available on the church website: https://goodshepherdrogers.org.

Midweek Bible Study will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday via Google Meet. We continue our study of the Book of Acts.

A Voter’s Assembly meeting will be held today, May 23, via Google Meet. In addition to other items, the congregation will consider adopting an amended Constitution and Bylaws.

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