Pastor’s March 2018 message

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John, The “Golden-Mouth”

John was born in 349 A.D. in Antioch (which is in modern day Turkey). Having been brought up in the faith by his mother, Anthusa, he was later made a pastor in Antioch. Then, having become known for the clarity of his preaching, those in the Church started calling him Chrysostom, which is the Greek word meaning Golden-Mouth. From Antioch, John Chrysostom was called to serve as Bishop in Constantinople (this was some 1,000 years before the Muslims invaded the Christian city of Constantinople and destroyed it, renaming it as Istanbul).

Suffering for The Church

John Chrysostom, a faithful teacher of the Church and one of the major Church fathers, was known for preaching the free and abundant salvation given by Christ Jesus. In commenting of the Apostle Paul, Chrysostom wrote of how the Apostle proclaimed not the good works of the Christian life, but how the Christian life is bound up in the suffering of Christ Jesus:

What is surely wonderful is that though suffering and doing such great things, [Paul] knew how to maintain an exceeding modesty. For when he was driven upon the necessity of relating his own good deeds, he ran quickly over them all although he might have filled books without number, had he wished to unfold in detail everything he mentioned; if he had specified the Churches he was in care for, if his prisons and his achievements in them, if of the other things one by one, the circumstances, the assaults. But he would not. [St. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, in “HOMILIES ON SECOND CORINTHIANS”]

After preaching of Paul’s humility, Chrysostom then turned to how this is a gift to the Church:
Knowing these things, let us also learn to be modest and not to glory at any time in wealth or other worldly things, but in the reproaches we suffer for Christ’s sake, and in these, only when need compels; for if there be nothing urging it, let us not mention these even, (lest we be puffed up,) but our sins only.

For so shall we both easily be released from them and shall have God [be] propitious to us, and shall attain the life to come; whereunto may we all attain through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, and the Holy Ghost, be glory.

The Church’s “Golden-Voice”

In his sermon, Chrysostom preaches of “what is mentioned in the Church.” It is not the works of the Christian nor the glory of the Church. What is mentioned is “our sins only.” Then, upon the confession that we are sinners, what is proclaimed is the gift of atonement accomplished by Christ Jesus (God being propitious toward us). From this, we are then able to glory not in our own works or improvement, but in “the reproaches we suffer for Christ’s sake.”

This joy in suffering belongs to the Christian, for the Christian belongs to Christ:
“Christ did not exalt himself … but in the days of his flesh he offered up prayers and petitions, with loud cries and tears, to [God] who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.”
[HEBREWS 5:1-10, FROM THE EPISTLE OF LENT 5]

Our world knows well the voice of self-promotion. And she expects to hear that from Christians. It was no different for the Church at the time of Chrysostom, where politicians stood as gods with silver statues erected to them.

But in a world of self-promotion, the Christian is not given to testify of his own good works or how his life has been improved. Nor is the Church given to testily of the glory of the Church. Rather, the world will hear from the Church “our sins only,” and then the proclamation of God’s good favor toward the sinner in Christ Jesus. To use John’s name of “Chrysostom,” this is the Church’s “golden-voice”: to speak of salvation in Christ Jesus.

In the Name of Jesus,

Rev. Warren W. Graff

“And They Devoted Themselves to the Apostles’ Doctrine . . .” [ACTS 2:42]

From the Confessions of the Church, Concerning the Office of Holy Ministry:

[Our churches teach] that to obtain this faith [in the justification of the sinner] God instituted the office of preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given (John 20:22). He works faith, when and where it pleases God (John 3:8), in those who hear the good news that God justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake. This happens not through our own merits, but for Christ’s sake.

Our churches condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that through their own preparations and works the Holy Spirit comes to them without the external Word of the Gospel.

Article V, Augsburg Confession
[See: Concordia, The Lutheran Confessions (A Reader’s Edition), p. 59]

From a Book Worth Reading:

The Faith That Shall Justify—This is not such a faith, as men dream, when they merely believe that there is one God, and believe that He is eternal; believing that He made the world from nothing, yes, and believe that the Gospel is true, and all things that God speaks must be true, and fulfilled, with other such things. This, I say, is not the faith that we are justified by. For devils and infidels have this faith, and also we may attain to these things by strength and reason.
But the faith that shall justify us, must be of another manner of strength, for it must come from Heaven, and not from the strength or reason. It must also make me believe that God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, is not alone a Father, but my Father. Yes, and through the favor—which Christ has purchased me—from this favor, neither Heaven nor Earth, tribulation nor persecution, death nor Hell, can divide me.

[Quote of Robert Barnes c. 1495-1540, English Reformer and Martyr. From: The Lord Will Answer, A Daily Prayer Catechism, p. 133]
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