Office of the Holy Ministry

Third Sunday in Advent

Third Sunday in Advent

Third Sunday in Advent

Third Sunday in Advent

December 17, 2017

Title:  Jesus is the Mystery of God.


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

It is written in 1 Corinthians 4 1This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 3But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.  Thus far the text.

Let us pray: Gracious Father, Your Son Jesus Christ, is the mystery of God whom You have made known to us in Your Holy Scriptures.  Grant us faithfulness to Your Word; in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Saint Paul is preaching these Words to the church gathered in Corinth.  It sounds a bit abrasive to us.  Saint Paul is telling the congregation how they regard him as their pastor.  The Corinthians were divided.  In the midst of many divisions, some followed Paul; but some followed Apollos, some followed Peter, some claimed to follow no man but Christ.

Saint Paul admonishes the Corinthian church, This is how one should regard (me and Apollos and Peter), as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.   

Paul says, regard us as servants of Christ.  Do not regard us as great leaders but rather regard us as fellow Christians saved by grace through faith in Jesus just as you are.

Paul also says, regard us as stewards of the mysteries of God.  

Think of stewards like this: the apostles and pastors are given a “power of attorney”.  They are responsible to distribute God’s gifts; according to God’s direction; according to His written Word.  

Think of the mysteries of God like this:  Jesus is the mystery of God who is received by faith.

Paul, Apollos, and Cephas were equally stewards of the mysteries of God.

The same is true for you.  Beginning with Pastor … and up to Pastor Saunders and even me, the Lord has granted you public stewards of the mysteries of God among the saints gathered at Our Savior Lutheran in Muscatine.  They all had the same responsibility: distribute the gifts of God our Father to you.

What is required of stewards?  It is required that they are found trustworthy to what is written in the Holy Scriptures.  They are to believe in Jesus Christ.  But for you, they are to preach and teach and pray and baptize and absolve and commune you regularly.  At the end of many years and decades of trustworthy stewardship, the Lord will commend the steward, saying well done my good and faithful steward.  This is true even if the church does not give a commendation because all they see is shrinking attendance, too many requests for repentance and faith, too little attention to boards and councils and conventions.

I am sometimes asked how this applies to the rest of the church.  The Lord has given you your own sphere of stewardship.  Your sphere includes your mom and dad, your husband or wife, your son or daughter, your employer or employee.  How do you exercise your responsibilities; your stewardship?  Like a pastor, look at what is written.  You have the Ten Commandments.  You are to believe in Jesus Christ.  You are to pray for yourself and others in Jesus name.  Attend the Divine Service.  This is true.  But your stewardship for others is to honor your father and mother.  If mom or dad is not asking you to sin against Jesus then do what they say even if you don’t want to.  This is your stewardship; your responsibility.  Students, do the homework your teacher assigns you whether you like it or not.  This is your stewardship.  Husbands and wives, love and cherish each other.  If your spouse is not asking you to sin against Jesus then do what she says even if you don’t want to.  This is your stewardship; your responsibility.  At the end of many years and decades of trustworthy stewardship, the Lord will commend you, saying well done my good and faithful steward.  Whether your stewardship is as a pastor of the mysteries of God in a little congregation or a bricklayer for a large company, as Christian stewards we are thoroughly furnished unto all good works through the study of Holy Scripture (which) is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16-17 KJV).

You will be found trustworthy because God our Father has sent His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ who did the good work of laying down His life and picking it back up again to fulfill the Ten Commandments and bear your sins and iniquities.

Jesus is the Mystery of God our Father.  I can neither explain this mystery nor will I try.  But, as far a Jesus is revealed in the Holy Scriptures this mystery I will proclaim.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

The peace of God, which passes understanding, guard and keep your body and soul in Jesus Christ, who is the Mystery of God our Father.  Amen.

Sunday Bible Study Recap on the Office of the Holy Ministry & Stuff

                             Sunday Bible Study Recap on the Office of the Holy Ministry & Stuff

                             Sunday Bible Study Recap on the Office of the Holy Ministry & Stuff

Sunday Bible Study Recap on the Office of the Holy Ministry & Stuff

We are continuing to look at the handout printed at the bottom of this post.  However, the focus of today's discussion after an opening prayer focused on 1 Timothy chapter 3 and the requirements of Bishops and Deacons. A question was asked with how our congregation uses the word elder.  It is important to note that the term "pastor" that we use in our congregation is from Latin, not Greek, and means "shepherd".  1 Timothy 3 uses a number of different terms that really mean "pastor".  For example, "overseer" and "elder" and "bishop" are other words that mean "pastor".  So, 1 Timothy 3:1-7 is written about the requires our Lord has established for those who want to become and remain a pastor in the Lord's church.

A question came up about our "elders" since we have a board of elders.  What the the Bible have to say about what we call "elders".  1 Timothy 3 uses the word "deacons" as a term separate from what we call "pastors".  1 Timothy 3:8-13 describe the requirements for those who want to be "deacons".  A deacon is essentially someone who could be accepted to become a pastor but who have a different calling from God, such as businessman or engineer or farmer, etc.  This group also includes those who are seminarians.  So, we have a Board of Elders to which capable men serve as assistants to the pastor who holds the Office of the Holy Ministry.  These men should be selected on the basis of 1 Timothy 3:8-13.  But elders are not pastors.  They are the first ears of the congregation to support and pray for both the pastor and the congregation.

Another question that came up, "Why do some congregations let women read the Old Testament and Epistle Lessons during the public service while leaving the Gospel for the pastor to read?"  I don't think this congregation has ever had women readers but we have had congregational elders read the lessons, but no longer.  Why?  I encourage you to read 1 Timothy 4:11-16 but especially verse 13.  The Apostle Paul is writing to the young pastor Timothy, encouraging Tim in Paul's absence.  "Until I (Paul) come, devote yourselves to the public reading of the Scriptures, to exhortation, to teaching".  We will probably address this more next week.

Another question, "Do we have to go to private confession or as we call it individual absolution, or not"?  Public and Individual Absolution give the same gift - the forgiveness of sins.  What about Holy Baptism and Holy Communion?  They also deliver the forgiveness of sins.  The Lord generously gives His forgiveness in multiple ways.  So, if public and private absolution both give the forgiveness of sins, then what is the difference? Public Absolution is general.  It is all true and delivers the forgiveness of all sins.  Private Absolution is either general or specific.  Private Absolution has unfortunately been delegated to Christian counseling.  Psychology is helpful and I have a few psychologists that I will refer.  But good psychology is about coping with God's law.  The counsel is not authorized to forgive your sins.  In private absolution with a pastor, the pastor will listen to you too.  The purpose for going is to be forgiven - for a specific sin or general.  He may give some general advice to encourage you to hear and receive from your Savior.  As a side note, a major contribution to emotional disorders is when an individual is unable to receive from someone else.  They believe Jesus and His promise of forgiveness, but they might be unable to receive that forgiveness.  In such a case, it is good to meet with a medical doctor or psychiatrist to address physical issues, a psychologist to assist you with how to cope with emotional  problems, and a pastor to assist you to deliver the gifts of your Savior and help you to receive them in case their is a blockage.  In each case, your privacy is protected by Iowa law and ordination vows.  So, you receive more personal spiritual care when you meet one-on-one with your pastor.

Keep me in your prayers that my voice continues to heal and we will continue this topic next week.  Pastor Pautz


3. In accord with the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, hold that there is one divinely instituted, divinely mandated pastoral office in the Church and that this office is not occupied by every member of the congregation but by those men well prepared for it and properly called to it. Therefore, any public proclamation of God’s Word in worship should and ought to be done only by such pastors called to the task. We reject as unbiblical the postChristian trend in some denominations to allow homosexual clergy. Confessional Lutherans affirm the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and encourage Christians to practice this priesthood in their homes and vocations but it is not to be confused with the office of pastor in the Church.  (Matthew 16:18-19; Acts 14:23; Acts 20:28; I Corinthians 4:1; I Timothy 3:15; Titus 1:4-5; I Peter 5:1-3) (AC XIV; AP XIII, 11-13; AP XVIII, 13-14; TR 60, 74) 
What are the Issues in Contention Today? 
1. Holy Scripture, in such passages as Romans 10:15; Hebrews 5:4; I Corinthians 12:28; Numbers 16; Jeremiah 23:21; and Acts 1:15-26, and the Lutheran Confessions declare in Augsburg Confession, Article XIV: “Our churches teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call.” At the Synodical convention in Wichita, Kansas (1989) the unbiblical category of “lay ministers” was established. This has resulted in laymen, neither ordained nor rightly called, errantly serving LCMS congregations. Even now some Lay Ministers continue to serve in Word and Sacrament “ministry” to the congregations of Synod.  This error has never been corrected and the practice of utilizing laymen who are not called to the Office of Word and Sacrament continue to serve as “pastors” within The LCMS.  
2. While there may be different routes to prepare a man to serve in the pastoral office, this violation of Augustana XIV was furthered by the establishment of Distance Education Leading to Ordination (DELTO) in which laymen not properly called and ordained continue to provide Word and Sacrament Ministry to LCMS Congregations. This error has never been corrected and the practice of utilizing laymen who are not called to the Office of Word and Sacrament continue to serve as “pastors” within the LCMS. 
Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions insist in Article XIV that the administration of the Sacraments be retained only by those properly called to administer them. The only means for “licensing” a man to serve as minister of Word and Sacrament is the divine call to the Office of the Holy Ministry and nothing else. Today many vicarage supervising pastors of the Synod illicitly insist that their vicars consecrate and administer the Lord’s Supper to home bound members of their parishes and even in Divine Services. The consciences of many vicars are thereby burdened by this demand. This error has never been corrected and the practice of utilizing vicars who are not called to the Office of Word and Sacrament continue within The LCMS. 
Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, as well as Dr. C.F.W. Walther, clearly teach that the Office of the Holy Ministry and the royal priesthood of the baptized are distinct from one another. The notion promoted by some that “everyone is a minister” distorts both the use of the term “ministry” in the Lutheran Confessions as well as the royal priesthood of the baptized so that
Office of Ministry (Pastor Bolland; 07/08/2010)  2
what any Christian does is measured against the ministry of Word and Sacrament, and the doctrine of vocation is lost.  This error has not been corrected within The LCMS. 
The Witness of Holy Scripture
MATTHEW 16:18-19
 18  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  
JOHN 20:22-23
 21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you."  22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."  
ACTS 14:23
 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.  
ACTS 20:28
 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.  
 1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  
TITUS 1:4-5
 4  To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. 5  This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 
 1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3  not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4  He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?  
I PETER 5:1-3
 1  So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2  shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3  not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.  
Office of Ministry (Pastor Bolland; 07/08/2010)  3
The Witness of the Lutheran Confessions
What is the Office of the Keys?  The Office of the Keys is that special authority which Christ has given to His Church on earth to forgive the sins of repentant sinners, but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as long as they do not repent. 
 Where is this written?  This is what St. John the Evangelist writes in chapter twenty:  “The Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (Jn. 20:22-23) 
 What do you believe according to these words?  I believe that when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, in particular when they exclude openly unrepentant sinners from the Christian congregation and absolve those who repent of their sins and want to do better, this is just as valid and certain even in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself. 
Our churches teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call. 
APOLOGY OF THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION – The Number and Use of the Sacraments, Article XIII, 11-13
But if ordination is understood as carrying out the ministry of the Word, we are willing to call ordination a Sacrament.  For the ministry of the Word has God’s command and has glorious promises,…For the Church has the command to appoint ministers, which should be most pleasing to us, because we know that God approves this ministry and is present in the ministry that God will preach and work through men and those who have been chosen by men.  It is helpful, so far as can be done, to honor the ministry of the Word with every kind of praise against fanatical people. 
 “Therefore, the bishop has the power of the order, that is, the ministry of Word and Sacraments.  He also has the power of jurisdiction.  This means the authority to excommunicate those guilty of open crimes and again to absolve them if they are converted and seek absolution. [John 20:23].  But their power is not to be tyrannical, without a fixed law. Nor is it to be regal, above the law.  Rather they have a fixed command and a fixed Word of God, according to which they should teach and exercise their jurisdiction…They have the Word, the command, and how far they should exercise jurisdiction if anyone did anything contrary to that Word they have received from Christ.” 
TREATISE ON THE POWER AND PRIMACY OF THE POPE – The Power and Jurisdiction of Bishops, 60, 74
 “The Gospel assigns those who preside over Churches the command to teach the Gospel [Matthew 28:19], to forgive sins [John 20:23], to administer the Sacraments, and also to exercise jurisdiction (i.e., the command to excommunicate those whose crimes are known and to absolve those who repent.)…Certainly, the common jurisdiction of excommunicating those guilty of clear crimes belongs to all pastors [I Corinthians 5] 
1. The establishment of the Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP) within The LCMS: 
 At the 2007 Synodical Convention in Houston, Texas, Resolution 5-01B, “To Establish Specific  Ministry Program” was passed.   This program permits men interested in becoming pastors to  take a total of eight seminary classes (almost entirely on-line, with only one week per year on a Office of Ministry (Pastor Bolland; 07/08/2010)  4 seminary campus required), prior to ordination.  Once ordained, the SMP is required to take an  additional eight classes.  This credit total is about half of that required by what is now termed   “General Ministry” seminary students.   
At a time in our culture when the orthodox Christian faith is under severe criticism, in a society that often rejects any kind of absolute truth, and at a time when many Christians (inclusive of LCMS Lutherans), often “mix and match” doctrines with those of other denominations and sometimes other non-Christian religions; it is the worst possible time to inadequately prepare our pastors thus inevitably inadequately feed God precious sheep on Word of God and the Sacraments.  
2. In various districts in our Synod, “Deacon Schools” have been opened which are taught  by local pastors in which it is often true that men and women are trained to conduct Word  and Sacrament ministry in congregations which already have pastors!