Easter and Vocation

Easter and Vocation April 17, 2013

In the sermon for the third Sunday of Easter, based on John 21:1-19, in which the disciples saw Jesus while they were fishing, Pastor Douthwaite related Easter to vocation:

Jesus has not changed, and Easter does not mean that He is now done all His work and now it’s up to us. No, He is still working. What He did before Easter He now does after Easter. And Jesus is not just now all “spiritual” – He is still working through the physical, through their calling, or vocation, as fishermen. That didn’t change and won’t change. What changed is the disciples. What changed is us. Jesus’ death and resurrection was not to make Jesus new, but to make us new. To raise us from sin, fear, and death to a new life in Him. Not a new super-spiritualized life, but a new life in your callings, or vocations. Not to take us out of this world, but to make us new in this world. And we see that in Peter. He is a changed man. And so are you.

via St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: Easter 3 Sermon.

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  • George A. Marquart

    It distresses me every Easter. Staunch defenders of our Confessions and Luther’s Small Catechism begin to wax lyrical about things that are nowhere to be found in Scripture. As much as I admire Rev. Douthwaite, having read many of his sermons, and having received much profit from them, he is not immune to this syndrome.

    Fundamentally these errors are concentrated in two areas: The Lord, the Holy Spirit, and the Kingdom of God.

    Let us begin with the Holy Spirit. Everything our Lord taught his Apostles about the Comforter just before He began His passion, and everything about the Holy Spirit that is asserted in dozens of passages in Scripture is forgotten, and everything becomes “The Power of the Resurrection”. The only place in all of Scripture where this term is used is in Philippians 3:10, where Paul speaks of his hope “to attain the resurrection from the dead (v11)”. But when we ascribe all of the changes in the Apostles and eventually in us to “The Power of the Resurrection”, then it becomes a matter of our attaining those changes because of “our gratitude for what Jesus has done for us.” Rev. Douthwaite did not use those words, but many others have, and they are implied in the teaching about “The Power of the Resurrection.”

    Sasse recognized this when he quoted one of his colleagues approvingly, who wrote, “The doctrine of the Holy Spirit has lost its citizenship in the Lutheran Church.” Some years ago, after I read John R. W. Stott’s, “Baptism and Fullness. The Work of the Holy Spirit today”, when I asked my brother what he thought of Stott, my brother responded, “Is he some kind of Pentecostal?” If you do a word association test with a Lutheran pastor, it is likely that the response to “Holy Spirit” would be “Pentecostal”, enthusiast, or even “Schwärmer”. This is what Stott wrote, ““Certainly we must never conceive ‘salvation’ in purely negative terms, as if it consisted only of our rescue from sin, guilt, wrath and death. We thank God that it is all these things. But it also includes the positive blessing of the Holy Spirit to regenerate, indwell, liberate and transform us.”

    Let me reiterate, “The Power of the Resurrection” is the power of God to raise the dead. It is not a power that works in our lives or changes us. All of that is done by the Lord, the Holy Spirit, Who has been given as a gift to every believer. I could quote any number of verses from Scripture in support of this, but I will limit myself to that most beautiful sentence in all languages, Dr. Luther’s explanation of the Third Article of the Creed. Further, the Apostles not only received the Holy Spirit on Easter Sunday directly from our Lord, but they received special powers on Pentecost (Acts 1:8), which nobody has received since then. It discourages and leads to doubt in every Christian believer when it is suggested that we should be just like the Apostles

    Secondly, about the Kingdom. Early in His ministry our Lord said, Luke 4: 43, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” I don’t believe that this was the only purpose for which He was sent, but it was certainly important enough for Him to say that. Unfortunately Dr. Luther and most Lutheran pastors today confuse the Kingdom and Sanctification because of the explanation of the Second Petition of our Lord’s Prayer. Our Confessions clearly teach that the Kingdom is also the Church and “the Bride of Chris”. Therefore to imply that throughout our lives, the Church somehow continuously “comes to us” is a grievous error. Part of the problem lies in the mistranslation of the Greek verb “ἐλθέτω” from our Lord’s prayer. When used metaphorically, it means “prosper” or “increase”. Why can it not come to us? Because to be a child of God means to be a member of the Kingdom. Colossians 1: 13 “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” To imply that we are not fully members of the Kingdom of God, but are continually becoming more and more so, is detrimental to the faith. And ultimately it implies that our salvation depends on what we do as part of Sanctification.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart