Divine Service - Crumbling Pillars of Protestantism


Sermon Notes: Tenth Sunday after Trinity

Texts: Jeremiah 8:4-12; Romans 9:30-10:4; Luke 19:41-48

Jesus Weeps Over Jerusalem

Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

It is written, “And when Jesus drew near (Jerusalem), He saw the city and wept over it saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which belong to peace (with our Father)!  But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will dig a trench around you, surround you, and pin you in on every side, and they shall dash you to the ground, and your children within you; and they will not leave for you - one stone upon another;  (Why?) because you did not know the time of your visitation.

And Jesus entered the temple and began to cast out the businessmen, saying to them, It is written: And My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it (an expensive tourist attraction).  

An Jesus was teaching daily in the temple.  But the chief priests and the scribes and the (pillars of the community) sought to destroy Jesus; but they could not find what they might do; because all the people clung to Jesus - listening.  Thus far the text.

Let us pray: Creator Father, Your faithful people cling to Jesus and listen to Him.  Grant us the faith that clings to and listens to Jesus. For we desire to remain Your people; in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

This is another difficult text.  In the next few minutes may speak clearly a few things that are the most important.  The problem with speaking clearly on a text like this is that the congregation ends up divided.  Those who don’t believe in Jesus, will be admonished to repent and believe. This group will be offended.  Those who do believe in Jesus, will be warned that they too are close to unbelief and in need of repentance.  This group, too, will be offended. So you may all have this in common the strong possibility that you will be offended by the end of this sermon.

The heart of this text is that Jesus weeps over the coming struggles of those who despise Him; those who despise the Word of God.

There are two methods for dealing with unbelievers.  On method is a sharp rebuke. Jesus sharply rebukes whole cities for their unbelief in Matthew 11:23-24 saying,

23 And you, Capernaum, who is exalted to heaven, you will be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which (I have done among you), had been done in Sodom, (Sodom) would have remained until this day. 24 But I say to you, That it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.  Thus far the text.

The second rebuke is in today’s text.  Jesus weeps over the suffering that will come upon all those who continue to despise God’s Word.

What kind of suffering will come upon the people?

Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem, which is the city of God.  No more temple. No more access to God. A bloody, violent death for many at the hands of the Romans.  The destruction of Jerusalem did take place in 70 A.D. This is less than forty years after Jesus’ prediction.

Let me use this as a teaching moment by extending Jesus’ prediction to all Protestantism, which is the new city of God.  Bear with me. The gates of hell will surely never stand against the church. I am not predicting the destruction of the church but I am suggesting that Protestantism (including the Lutheran church) has already departed from the sure foundation of the Holy Scriptures; that church of Protestantism, like the church of Rome before her, despises the Word of God.

There are two Pillars of Protestantism.  All protestants share both pillars. All of Rome rejects both.

The two Pillars of Protestantism are:

  1. The Inerrancy of God’s Word.

  2. Justification By Faith Alone.

First, inerrancy.  This is the Biblical teaching that the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible clearly and without any errors.  The Bible is the Word of God. All Christian teaching is recorded in the Bible. All Christian teaching must be confirmed by the Bible.  The Bible has no error. Why? Because God wrote it.

It is hard for contemporary Christians to believe that the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible through the pen of the prophets and apostles.  It is hard to believe that Almighty God could communicate clearly, write clearly, and work in the hearts and minds of men, women, and children through what He has communicated in writing to us.

So, inerrancy of God’s Word is denied by many pastors and people in the Protestant churches.  It is the first crumbling Pillar of Protestant Church.

A dear Lutheran lady I know from a previous congregation visited her elderly mother in Illinois.  She grew up in a United Church of Christ congregation but became Lutheran shortly before her marriage to a lifelong Lutheran.  She came home upset. She said, “The pastor of my childhood church said - from the pulpit - that God did not write the Bible and that we all need to get over it.  The Bible is full of mistakes.” Ouch. I was not shocked but I am still sad.

There are LCMS pastors who deny the inerrancy of the Bible.  One pastor, in private, laughed and said, “Can you believe that there are people, even professors at our seminaries, that think God wrote the Bible and that it contains no errors?”  If I heard it from one pastor I have heard it said aloud, from at least ten or more, the teaching of inerrancy is foolishness. Not said from the pulpit but mocked clearly in private.

At our last District Convention, a minority of pastoral and lay delegates, exposed their denial of the inerrancy of God’s Word when they argued against the Biblical Creation account in six 24 hour days and also the Order build in to this Creation.  There needs to be room in the church for conservative forms of evolution, they said. There needs to be room in the church for conservative forms of woman leadership, maybe even ordination, they said from the convention floor.

No.  The church has room only for the Word of God.

The second pillar of the Protestant church is justification by faith alone.

The teaching is clearly written by the Holy Spirit.

What is justification by faith alone?

It is the teaching that the death of Christ is the treasure of the church.  The death of Christ goes by several names: atonement, redemption, propitiation, and by the simple phrase - the blood of Christ.  This treasure is distributed to sinners like you and me through God’s Word and Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior. Faith in Jesus goes by one other name: justification by faith alone.

So, justification by faith alone is also denied by many pastors and people in the Protestant churches.  It is the second crumbling Pillar of the Protestant Church.

Today, there is a competing view of justification.  It is called universal justification. This teaching in not Biblical.  It teaches that when Jesus rose from the dead, the whole world was forgiven  Whether you believe in Jesus or not, you are forgiven all your sins because of what Jesus did.  Whether you are a Christian or not, you are forgiven all your sins because all religions lead to the same god.  Hell is no longer an option because all are already saved.

Protestant churches that deny inerrancy hold to full throated Universal Justification.  Those Protestants believe that all people of all religions are already saved.

Our kind of Protestantism has a subtler view of Universal Justification.  The subtle view teaches two justifications. It is Universal Justification while also saying that you must believe in Jesus.  Faith in Jesus is the second or Subjective Justification. This double justification is growing in our circles. It is taught in the new LCMS dogmatics textbooks.  It is taught in the new LCMS Small Catechism with Explanation. It is only a step away from what the LCMS criticizes among other Lutheran churches.

So even we are part of the crumbling Pillars of Protestantism.

Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem, the city of God.  Only a few believed Him.

Today, some are predicting the destruction of Protestantism, the city of God.  How can you prepare yourselves for the coming collapse of the church in our times?

First, the admonishment and warning.  The admonishment is for those of you who you don’t believe in Jesus, you have found your repentance.  So repent and believe in Jesus the Savior. The warning is for those of you who do believe in Jesus, pride comes before the fall.  So repent and believe in Jesus the Savior.

Second, worship God in the beauty of His holiness.  A Lutheran congregation has only one responsibility.  It is not to grow numerically, to be successful, to balance the budget, or to make people happy.  The sole responsibility of the congregation is to worship God in the beauty of His holiness. The Biblical marks of the church are:


  1. Preach the Word of God in its truth and purity, and

  2. Administer the sacraments according to the Scriptures.