Excerpts from Martin Luther’s sermon on John 16:5-15:
When the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, comes He will convince the world of blindness and ignorance. All men who have not been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, no matter how clever they may be thought to be by prevailing external
circumstances, rule or dealings, are fools and blind before God. They do not like being reminded of this. In fact, they become very cross and angry if you tell them that all their achievements count for nothing at all before God. They are quite sure that the reason and natural light that God has created in them, must at least count for something.
What can we reply?
There stands the Scripture, the Word of God, plain and clear, telling us that the Holy Spirit will come and convince the world of ignorance in regard to sin, righteousness and judgement.
This is a fixed determination; it cannot be modified or changed. Let him who will, be angry; this is no concern of Christ here…. [St. Louis. Ed. XI.865,2]
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The world is in a wretched plight. Not only is it ignorant of sin, of righteousness and of judgement, but it cannot recognize this fact, not to mention the utter impossibility of getting rid of this ignorance.
Here you see also how all credibility is taken from those who want to train others in the ways of godliness when they do not even know what sin is. It would be both interesting and instructive to examine our theological schools and learned theologians on the meaning of the one little word ” sin”. Have you ever heard it said or taught that ” sin” is not believing in Christ? They tell us that ” sin” is to speak, desire, or do something contrary to God’s will and commandment.
How does this agree with Christ’s statement here that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin ” because they do not believe in me”? It is not so difficult to convict the world of being ignorant of sin, even though it is a very learned world. The world will not find it easy to explain this text….[St. Louis Ed.XI.866,3]
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Christ has come and proclaimed the truth that everything we do apart from the Holy Spirit, no matter how great it is and how lovely it appears to be, is sin. We cannot do anything good gladly and willingly without the Holy Spirit. Christ came on earth to take our place. He has taken away all our sins. As a result of this we have received the Holy Spirit through whom we have also obtained love and the desire to do what God wants us to do.
This entire work of Christ is God’s free gift to us, so that we should never presume to come before God with our own works, but solely and only through Christ and His merits. Through the work of Christ it also comes to pass that sin for us is no longer what we have done contrary to God’s Law. The Law played no part at all in making us righteous and acceptable before God, because by nature we cannot do this.
What then is “sin” in view of the work of Christ? It is nothing else but the rejection of the Saviour and the refusal to accept Him who can remove our sins from us. Where Christ is present, there is no sin. He brings with Him the Holy Spirit, who enkindles faith in our hearts and the desire to do what is good.
The world is no longer convicted or condemned because of any other sin, for Christ has destroyed all sin. In the New Covenant, however, the only thing that is sin is failure to recognize Christ and to accept Him. [St.Louis Ed.XI.868,8-9]
PRA YER: Of your mercy and grace, O God, imbue us with such knowledge and understanding of your wonderful love in Christ that we never allow ourselves by any deception of self-love or the devil to be withdrawn from the circle of your grace and mercy, in Christ Jesus our Saviour. Amen.
[From pages 189-191 of Luther for the Busy Man, translated by Dr. P.D. Paul, Lutheran Publishing House, Adelaide, South Australia, 1974.]
What a great mystery that God sent for this world of sinners His only-begotten Son to suffer, die and rise that all who believe might have true life now and forever! Carl
LESSON: PSALM 19.7-14
They understood none of these things; this saying was hid from them, and they did not grasp what was said. Luke 18.34
[Luther:] What Jesus said to the disciples had no meaning for them at this time. “This saying was hid from them.” This amounts to saying, “Reason, flesh and blood cannot understand or grasp that Scripture should declare how the Son of Man must be crucified”. Still less can it understand that such is His will, and that He does this gladly.
Reason does not believe that this is necessary for us, it wants to take care of itself before God with works. God must reveal this in our hearts by His Spirit, after proclaiming it outwardly into our ears by His Word.
Even those to whom the Spirit reveals it inwardly find it hard to believe this and have to struggle with this.
So great and wonderful a thing it is that the Son of man is crucified willingly and gladly to fulfil the Scriptures, that is, for our good. It is a mystery and remains a mystery. SL.XI.527,4
Prayer: O Lord, we are always in need of the enlightenment of your Holy Spirit through your Word. We thank you that through the Spirit we can understand the treasures of your Word and make them our own. Amen.
[From page 157 of Luther for the Busy Man, translated by Dr. P.D. Paul, Lutheran Publishing House, Adelaide, South Australia, 1974.]
How does God bring people to Himself? God raises people from spiritual death to spiritual life in Christ by the power of the Gospel. Luther reminds and encourages us in this devotional reading. Blessed Epiphany! Carl
LESSON: MATTHEW 2:1-12
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. Isaiah 60:1
The admonition to “arise” is without doubt spoken to one who has not arisen, that is, to one who is lying asleep, or is dead. I think St. Paul had this passage in mind when he said in Ephesians, “It is said, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light’.” Ephesians 5:14.
Without doubt Christ is the “light” of which Isaiah speaks here, the light which through the Gospel shines forth throughout the whole world and gives light to all men who arise and desire Him.
But who are these sleepers and dead men? Without a doubt they are all those who are in subjection under the Law, for they are all dead through sin. They also include those who are dead, who disregard the Law and live a free life without the restraints of the Law.
The work-righteous are the sleepers who do not feel any shortcomings at all. Neither of these two groups pays much attention to the Gospel. They keep on in their sleep and a life which is nothing but death. The Spirit must awaken them so that they see and recognize the light.
There is a third group who feel the Law biting their conscience: they also long for grace and sigh for the Gospel; they also see to it that the Gospel comes and is given to men; they proclaim it, like Isaiah, to awake the sleepers and those who are dead so that they may accept the light. SL.XII 288,4-5
PRAYER: Shine in our hearts, 0 Lord, with true Epiphany light, that we, through this light, may at all times be a true light in this world to all our fellowmen. Amen.
[From page 48 of Luther for the Busy Man, translated by Dr. P.D. Paul, Lutheran Publishing House, Adelaide, South Australia, 1974. Luther portrait from Wikipedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Martin_Luther_by_Cranach-restoration.tif]
- Update on Carl’s Back Surgery
- Ted’s Schooling and Deborah’s Call to Concordia Lutheran High School
- Paul’s Ordination
- Updates on Paul, Stacy and new son Andrew; James and Megan; Scott, Becky and Eli
- Carl’s New Writing Project
- Stand Fast for Jesus
- Prayer Requests
Our love in Christ,
Carl and Deborah
My back surgery and hospital stay went well. I am now home for recovery. We appreciate your prayers that the healing will go well during this 3-6 month process.
In Christ, Carl
Christmas and New Year’s Greetings to you from the Carl and Deborah Rockrohr clan.
We were blessed to have all four children and their families together with us on December 28.
From bottom of stairs ascending: Carl, Deborah, Baby Eli, Rebecca & Scott (Johnson), Stacy & Paul, Megan & James, and Ted.
Prayer requests are Carl’s back surgery scheduled for January 13 and his 3-6 month recovery. Also, both Carl and Deborah need full-time calls/employment.
If you are interested in receiving our email newsletter please contact us at email@example.com
Enjoy some photos below – I especially like the photos of Ted now touching the ceiling for the first time contrasted to Eli sitting for the first time (tallest and shortest in the clan).
In Christ, Carl
Photo: Rockrohr Family July 4, 2014
August-September Newsletter Available
- Return to the USA
- Family Events (Wedding, Ordination, Deaconess Commissioning)
- Future Ministry
- Prayer Requests
- Thank you for your interest and support!
Photo: Sword Arch after Jim and Megan’s Wedding
Photo: Mekane Yesus Seminary School of Theology Staff
This issue includes:
- Photos of activities and people at Mekane Yesus Seminary
- Ministry changes for Carl and Deborah
- Rockrohr Summer visitation schedule
- Photos of our new grandson and baptism
This month’s topics include:
– Reflection on ministry in Ghana 20 years ago
– Summer visitation Schedule
God bless your day!
Photo: LCMS Missionaries from South Africa, Ghana, Togo, Kenya, Guinea, and Ethiopia; and Rev. Dr. Collver. Not pictured: Missionary Phil Jaseph of Kenya took the picture.
Photo: Rev. Dr. William Schumacher from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis has joined Carl and Deborah for two months to teach two MA systematic theology courses. He is the Director of Institute for Mission Studies and Mission Associate Professor of Historical Theology at Concordia Seminary.