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Archive for April 2017

Guarded Through Faith

St. John Schaumburg
Second Sunday of Easter
Guarded Through Faith

Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia
It is the second Sunday of Easter, which usually means that the church attendance dips a little compared with the previous week of the Easter celebration. It also means that Thomas, the disciple who doubted, gets a lot of attention, as our Gospel reading for today notes. What about denying Peter? We usually think of Peter as the Rock, the bold one, sure we may remember that Peter denied Jesus before the crucifixion, but we don’t usually think of Peter as the great denier. As you can probably tell, I don’t like adding the word doubting to Thomas, why because we all doubt. It is part of the struggle with our sinful nature. To look down upon Thomas because he doubted, is to look down upon our own life which is just as filled with doubt as both Peter and Thomas. Besides, even Jesus didn’t chastise Thomas, but Jesus focused Thomas to the proof of the resurrection.
We are gather here on the Sunday after the Resurrection. We like many didn’t see Jesus Physically risen from the dead, but the proof is still there.
Dr. Alvin Schmidt in his book Hallmarks of Lutheran Identify says this about the proof, he writes: The validity of the faith of Christians, as portrayed in the New Testament, rests upon the historical fact of Christ’s bodily resurrection….it was not their faith that made Christ’s resurrection true. Rather, it was the empirical fact of their having seen and witnessed with their own eyes His live and resurrected body, which they had seen on a number of occasions, that made their faith true and valid.

Like Thomas, we also need to be pointed to the resurrection.
As St. Paul Notes: 1 Corinthians 15:17 (ESV) 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

The Bible shows us many witnesses, and these witnesses have written down what they saw, so that as St. John at then end of the gospel reading : John 20:30–31 (ESV) 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these 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.
The Christian Faith is the greatest gift given to us. God is bringing together humanity into relationship with Himself. And the emphasis is on the gift. As Francis Pieper notes in his second volume of Christian Dogmatics. This reconciliation, as Scripture plainly tells us, does not consist in a change of heart in man, but in a change of heart in God. The reconciliation between God and humanity is not humanity’s doing but God’s Work. It is the greatest gift to us.
 
As the Collect, the prayer for the day that we just prayed says
Almighty God, grant that we who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Every Sunday we celebrate the resurrection, knowing that our sins are forgiven though the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus the Christ. Every Sunday we gather, confessing our sins, receiving absolution, receiving Christ with bread and wine.
But how do we confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord. For that let’s turn from Thomas to Peter, particularly our epistle reading

1 Peter 1:3–9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Grieved by various trails? But we we would rather have comfortable life, avoiding anything like suffering, but note Jesus’ own words.
Luke 24:26 (ESV) 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

How did Christ enter into His glory, through suffering and death.
After St. Paul was stoned and left for dead he returned teaching, Acts 14:22 (ESV) 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

To which our knees may be starting to buckle, thinking that how will we do this?
The greatest gift reminds us and Peter that it is by God’s power are being guarded through faith

How are we guarded
Psalm 34:7 (ESV) 7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
The Sixth Petition
And lead us not into temptation.
What does this mean? God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.

So every time we pray this petition we are asking God to guard us.
Luther reminds us in the Large Catechism: This, then, is “leading us not into temptation” when God gives us power and strength to resist, even though the tribulation is not removed or ended. For no one can escape temptations and allurements as long as we live in the flesh and have the devil prowling about us. We cannot help but suffer tribulations, and even be entangled in them, but we pray here that we may not fall into them and be overwhelmed by them.

This is especially the work of the Holy Spirit, the comforter. The role comforter is not to find us some cushy pew to sit in. But makes us comfortable, that is less anxious in the midst of trails and temptations. As Pieper reminds us: He builds up, maintains, and governs His Church exclusively through His Word and the Sacraments, by which He creates and preserves faith in the Gospel through the Holy Ghost and for the administration of which He gives His gifts to the Church and has, particularly, instituted the office of the public ministry.

This is why God gives pastors to the church. Pastors who faithfully proclaim the Gospel and administer the sacraments Like Pastor Brockhoff. So that you can continue to gather here at St. John to receive the many gifts from God, and so that God will guard and keep you in the faith.

Διὰ πίστεως (Being guarded through faith) means that faith trusts the guarding and protecting power of God’s almighty power. In every danger our faith turns to God, prays to him that he may use his power to shield us, make a way of escape for us at St Paul reminds us in(1 Cor. 10:13). that there is a way out of the temptations.
 
Even Peter,Thomas, the rest of the disciples needed to be guarded in the Faith. God is faithful, He sent Jesus the Christ His Son to die so that we may reconciled with God, the greatest gift. God is not going to left that gift be quickly destroyed, so the Holy Spirit is sent to keep us focused upon Christ, and His resurrection from the dead. So we gather here today, to be guarded in the gift of faith, through God’s Word and Sacrament. So that we who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection may by God’s grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God. In His Name Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Written by dballa

April 23, 2017 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Sermons

Guard vs. Guide

Compline

I love this picture, which reminds me of the words in Compline: Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in peace.

Why Guides us waking. God doesn’t control our every action like a robot or a drone. Instead we are guided, for we still struggle with our sinful nature. This nature also listens to the the Devil, the world and our sinful nature (flesh). Martin Luther says the following about this in the Sixth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer

And lead us not into temptation.

What does this mean?
God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.

But at night, when asleep, we need to be guarded.

Psalm 34:7 (ESV) The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

The picture above reflects this.

 

1 Samuel 2:9 (ESV) 9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail.

John 10:28–29 (ESV) 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Philippians 4:7 (ESV) 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Written by dballa

April 1, 2017 at 8:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Living with the State

There are many that says the government is a necessary evil. I heard one commentator, sorry I can’t remember the person name at the moment, describe the government as necessary, made up with people who are evil (if I may say sinful). For we all fall short of God’s glory, not just those who work for the government.

As we struggle with this in every generation, I really appreciate the words of Pieper, who has this beautiful summary.

Therefore, Christians are necessarily bound to obey their own magistrates and laws, save only when commanded to sin; for then they ought to obey God rather than man, Acts 5:29.” (Trigl. 51, XVI.) This position is Scriptural. Christ was accused without cause of seeking the crown of the Roman emperor, for He taught: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21; Luke 23:2). Likewise Peter admonishes the Christians (1 Pet. 2:17, 13): “Fear God. Honor the king.” “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.” And Paul does not urge the Christians to start a revolution, but to make supplication “for kings and for all that are in authority,” in order that under their rule “we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty; for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior” (1 Tim. 2:1–3). Cp. Rom. 13:1–7; Jer. 29:7.

Pieper, F. (1953). Christian Dogmatics (electronic ed., Vol. 3, p. 417). St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

Written by dballa

April 1, 2017 at 7:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized