Tag Archives: TLSB

Abide in the Word of God (Reformation 2009)

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Todd A. Peperkorn, STM

Messiah Lutheran Church

Kenosha, Wisconsin

Reformation (October 25, 2009)

John 8:31-36

For an audio mp3 of this sermon, Click on this: Reformation-2009

TITLE: “Abide in His Word”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for the Festival of the Reformation is from John 8:31-36, with focus on the words of the Gospel, If you remain in my Word, you are my disciples.

To be a disciple means to be a follower, but you can only follow Jesus if you can hear Him in His Word. Maybe this seems obvious, but it is far from obvious in our day and age. There is more accessibility to God’s Word today than ever before in the history of the world. Nearly every family in the United States has a copy of the Scriptures in the house. You can read the bible on your computer. You can listen to it in your car. You can read it on your phone, for goodness’ sake! If you wanted to, you could collect over a hundred translations just in English. I’ve got a stack of just a few of them up here right now, and these are only the “Lutheran” bibles, including our most recent contribution, The Lutheran Study Bible.

The tradition of study bibles is actually a Lutheran one. In Luther’s day, they didn’t have bibles in their own language. If they were lucky, maybe there was a copy of the Latin bible, and while a lot more people knew Latin then than they do today, it still wasn’t the same as hearing God’s Word in your own language. Probably one of Luther’s greatest contributions to Christianity was His translation of the bible into colloquial German. Nearly every translation since then has followed in His tradition of care, attention to the original languages, and his desire to allow God’s Word to speak for itself. On top of that, he provided introductions to all the books of the bible that were simple, held up Jesus Christ and the Gospel, and drew the reader into God’s gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation. This new study bible stands in a long tradition of such bibles.

Tragically, the accessibility to God’s Word which we enjoy, however, has not really contributed to more disciples. People in general do not know the story of Jesus’ life today as well as they did a generation ago. While at one time, reading God’s Word together and meditating on it in prayer was fairly common in American households, we lead such frantic, busy lives that we see such things as more a luxury than a necessity or a part of our daily lives together. We are more concerned about sports and television than we are about that actual connection with our Lord in preaching and His Word. Holding God’s Word sacred doesn’t mean keeping the book in great condition: it means wearing it out from such constant use. Today if you spend time in meditation on God’s Word, it’s likely you’ll be accused of being some kind of religious kook. We want our religion to be nice and safe, well contained and not something that is going to interfere overmuch with the more important things of our lives.

But Jesus calls you to a different life than that. He told the Jews in his day that if you sinned, you were a slave of sin. These things of our lives, work and family and sports and food and drink and everything else that makes you tick, these things are all blessings from God. They are gifts from God. But don’t allow the gift to obscure the Giver of the gift. If these gifts from God take on a life of their own and supplant God’s Word in your life, then they cease to be gifts and have instead become a curse. Satan loves to take good gifts from God and twist them to his own evil end.

In Jesus’ day, the Jews were offended that Jesus would suggest that they were enslaved to sin. Are you offended by the same thought? We Americans claim to hold our freedoms dear, yet so often we allow the things that we have to take the place of who we are in Christ Jesus. Jesus says to you that if the Son makes you free, you are free indeed. That is both command and promise on His part. He commands you to follow Him, to remain in His Word, both here in the Divine Service, but also every day of your life in meditation and prayer. That is what shapes you as a Christian.

Jesus Christ is the center and the point of God’s Word. St. John later put it this way, “…these [things] are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 19:31 ESV). Our sermon hymn for Reformation Sunday confesses this very well:

2. Christ Jesus is the content of this writing,

The banner of God’s love for all unfurled,

For through the Word the Father is inviting:

“O wayward one, forsake your rebel world;

No greater gift I have than what I gave you–

My only Son for sin–that you might know

The distance that My grace stretched out to save you

And make your scarlet sins as white as snow.”

That is the content and purpose of God’s Word. That, if you were to boil the Reformation down to its essence, is what being Lutheran is really all about. Confessing the Christian faith as Lutherans means trusting God’s Word, and specifically trusting that God frees us from our sins by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is the chief message of God’s Word, and it is a message that is worth hearing, reading, studying, meditating and singing every day of our lives.

So be free of the slavery that these sins hold you under! Repent of your sins and turn to Christ. That is the call that His Word sings to you this day and every day. Be free, rejoice in God’s gifts, especially the gift of His Word made flesh for you. Be free, sing the song of salvation, and follow Christ to death and the grave, for you will then come out on the other side, whole and undefiled. Redeemed, restored, forgiven, and alive forevermore in Him. Come and take the Word made flesh from this altar. It is God’s work for you. Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith, unto life everlasting. Amen.

A New Bible for Christ’s Church: The Lutheran Study Bible

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[From the October 2009 Messiah's Messenger]

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I love books. Step into my office and you might as well be stepping into a library. But there is no doubt that some books are more important than others. The chief of these is God’s Word, the Bible. And we are blessed to have a new study bible available for us through Concordia Publishing House. The Lutheran Study Bible is hot off the presses and promises to be an incredible resource for Christian’s who desire to learn more about God and HIs mercy toward us in Christ Jesus.

But do we need another bible? Isn’t the one that I’ve used since I was confirmed good enough? At one level, of course it is good enough. It isn’t a competition, and God’s Word is powerful and effective, regardless of the context or print edition or whatever other format it may be found in. For many of us, we grew up with the King James Version of the bible. I still have my KJV bible I received at my confirmation. In the LCMS, the Concordia Self-Study Bible (NIV translation) has been a popular addition for twenty-five years. Many of you probably have a copy of this study bible, and it includes lots of wonderful resources. Here at Messiah we have largely used the New King James Version (NKJV) for the past ten years or so. This is also a good and faithful translation that has much to commend it.

But this bible is different in several important ways. Here are a few of them that come to mind:

1. The translation it uses is the English Standard Version (ESV). This is the translation that our church body has unofficially adopted as the norm. It is used in Lutheran Service Book, our hymnal. It is the translation we use in worship on Sunday mornings. It is the translation we now use at Christ Lutheran Academy. Martin Luther wrote this about consistency of texts in the Catechism, and it certainly holds true for God’s Word as well:

In the first place, let the preacher above all be careful to avoid many versions or various texts and forms of the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Sacraments, and such. He should choose one form to which he holds and teaches all the time, year after year. For young and simple people must be taught by uniform, settled texts and forms. Otherwise they become confused easily when the teacher today teaches them one way, and in a year some other way, as if he wished to make improvements. For then all effort and labor ‹that has been spent in teaching› is lost.

My hope and plan is that the ESV will be the last translation that I regularly use in my ministry. I expect it to be the norm in the LCMS for a generation or more.

2. The introductions and study notes are thoroughly Lutheran. Concordia Publishing House spent years preparing the introductions, notes, and review process for TLSB. The editors come from nearly every conservative Lutheran church body in the world, including the Wisconsin Synod, the Lutheran Church – Canada, Europe, Africa, and more. The majority of the editors are LCMS, and it went through a thorough doctrinal review process before coming to us. These study notes and introductions incorporate the Small Catechism, writings of Luther and other theologians, and a wealth of information historical and theology for the student of the Scriptures.

3. It includes many of the resources we often use in prayer and worship and catechesis. These include especially the Small Catechism, but also many prayers, an emphasis on Law & Gospel, and generally holding up the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins above all else.

4. It is available in lots of different formats. From the $35 standard hardback edition, larger print editions, various kinds of leather and bonded leather editions, there are more than enough options to go around.

5. It has artwork! These include scenes drawn by Julius Schnoff von Carlsfeld, and were originally available in the 1860 Luther bible published in Leipzig.

6. It includes the lectionaries (reading cycles) in use in our churches. This is very helpful for preparation to go to church. You can always lookup and find what the readings for the upcoming Sunday are and work through them in preparation.

7. Over a hundred charts and over thirty maps. It is tremendously helpful to to be able to put flesh and blood on the stories of the bible. Maps helpful to realize that these are actual events that took place here on earth. They give context to the world of the bible. In the same way, there are many aspects of God’s Word that are hard for us to grasp and understand without some teaching. While a study bible is not a replacement for the Ministry of the Word in the Christian congregation, it can serve as a helpful basis for the student of God’s Word.

These are just a few of the great things about The Lutheran Study Bible. I’m sure that as I use it for study and prayer over the weeks and months and years to come, that many more will become known. I look forward to learning more of God’s Word with you, as we study what He has given us in His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Lutheran Study Bible (TLSB) Pre-Review

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I’ve always been a Bible junkie. If you were to look at my bookshelves, you would find about twenty five different versions of the Bible, study bibles, kids bibles, pew bibles, in English, Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, Latin, German, and probably a few others. I think I have a Polish Bible around here somewhere. A part of my interest is that I simply love the Scriptures. A part of it is that I love books. But maybe the biggest interest for me as a pastor is that translations and study bibles really teach a great deal about what the makes of the bible believe. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses, and each one is a great way to learn from the source what a particular church body believes and confesses.

This is why I am so excited about The Lutheran Study Bible.

For the first time ever in English, there will be a study bible that teaches what the Scriptures hold to be true and as we confess them as Lutherans. It is also written for laity, and had hundreds and hundreds of different people view its work. This project is truly ecumenical, finding the best scholars and teachers that confessional Lutheranism has to offer, from the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa, all the way to South America.

The Lutheran Study Bible (TLSB) will be roughly the same size as the older Concordia Self-Study Bible (CSSB), but will offer several significant improvements over the CSSB. First, the CSSB was really a rewrite of the NIV Study Bible, and many of the notes reflect a Reformed or non-Lutheran perspective, particularly when it comes to the Sacraments. Second, TLSB utilizes much of the scholarship available in the last 30 years to bring insights into what God’s Word teaches. Third, it uses the English Standard Version, which is a far superior translation to the NIV. Finally and most importantly, TLSB holds up Jesus Christ in every page, and gives the readers a deep appreciation for Jesus’ death and resurrection.

I’m very excited about this book coming out. It won’t be available for a few months yet, but we will be able to lock in better prices if we do it via pre-ordering. Some of my suggestions for this bible include:

Christmas gifts
Confirmation and/or First Communion
Graduation
Home bible study
Academy families
Sunday morning bible study

Those are just a few thoughts on its benefits and uses. There is a signup sheet with versions and prices that range from $35-$80. There is also a sample booklet available in each member’s mailbox, with a few extra copies as well.

The Lutheran Study Bible (TLSB) Pre-Order Form

My congregation has a wonderful Book of the Month club where we order books for the church and discuss them. We’ve done it for lots of different books, many of which are the wonderful books that Concordia Publishing House has put out over the last several years.

As are many pastors, I am really looking forward to The Lutheran Study Bible coming out in October. The TLSB samplers are in the mail to most congregations right now, and more will be coming soon.

But I’m impatient.

So, we are doing TLSB as our Book of the Month for May, and I have created a pre-order form. It doesn’t have every option, but it has several of them. I put this forward for your use until CPH has their official order form setup. It is available in PDF, Word & RTF format. The files are rather large, because they include the CPH TLSB graphic in them.

Enjoy!

-LL

TLSB Order Form in PDF

TLSB Order Form in WORD