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The Truth Will Set You Free

The Truth Will Set You Free
John 8:31-36
October 29, 2017

Philippians 1:2 (ESV) 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

This weekend many if not all Lutheran Churches across the world will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Today’s Gospel reading is the reading that we use for every Reformation day, for it gives us the key into the reformation. At the heart of it we are reminded as Francis Pieper tells us that: Scripture gives a clear and simple answer to the question concerning the certainty of our salvation. But people struggle with the certainty that Christ brings, they see their sin and question, am I really going to be with Christ in heaven above on the last day. Please don’t struggle with the certainty, for Christ is the one who set us free.

John 8:31–32 (ESV) 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Christ here states two things. First, there is such a thing as Christian certainty, “You will know the truth,” and, second, that this certain knowledge of the truth is identical with continuing in the Word of Christ, believing His Word. The Conclusion here is that Faith is certainty. This is why the Truth of God’s Word will set you free from sin.

It is the Word of Christ itself which works faith in a person through the Word of Christ Romans 10:17 (ESV) 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

The reason for this is that the Word of Christ, when we hear and read it and thus apprehend it with our mind, carries with it the power of the Holy Spirit. Our Christian faith, as Paul declares in (1 Corinthians 2:5 (ESV) 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.) Please note that faith is not produced by humanity, but in the power of God.”

So, then, it is the Word of God which produces the Christian assurance. Luther says: “Where this Word [of God] takes possession of the heart by true faith, it makes the heart as firm, sure, and certain as it is itself, unmoved, stubborn, hard, in the face of temptation, the devil, death, and anything whatsoever, in proud confidence laughing to scorn all that spells doubt and fear, ire and wrath, for it knows that the Word of God cannot lie” (St. L. III:1887). I guess that German stubbornness if good for something, but it really isn’t German stubbornness, but Confidence in the faith.

Remember Christ’s words “if you abide” that is continue in Christ’s word.

If we neglect Scripture, thinking that we have advanced beyond it and no longer need it, we shall remain, or again become, the prey of uncertainty. Because of the neglect of scripture one may experience the blinding effect of the Word of Christ, which Christ describes in the words of: Matthew 11:25 (ESV) 25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; and again in: John 9:39 (ESV) 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Such a person is absolutely cut off from all Christian knowledge. This warning, also, is a necessary safeguard of the Christian certainty, that is to remain in the Word of God.

Christ also directs us to His Word as a spruce of refuge, as the one strong fortress, indestructible, outlasting heaven and earth as Christ says in Matthew 24:35 (ESV) 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. The Christian Church has understood this and has taken its stand on Scripture, and making Scripture the basis of certainty, and the Christian Church has withstood all assaults of the enemy.

We are blest today to be able to celebrate the Reformation. For the Reformation grew beyond one person. But if you would ask Luther, what the reformation was about he would answer Christ. Just like Lucas Cranock’s picture on the cover of the Bulletin. For Luther it is always about Christ’s work on the cross, and making sure that people had that certainty of the Gospel. That is why many consider:

Luther’s Explanation to the 2nd Article of the Apostles’ Creed as the perfect summary.
What does this mean?
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.
It is my hope and prayer, that all people would know that Christ Jesus has freed them from slavery on sin, and that there is no doubt. For this is what Luther wanted for the Reformation, that all people would see that the Truth of Christ has set you free. In His name Amen.
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

October 28, 2017 at 2:57 pm

Posted in Sermons

Through the Calamity

Through the Calamity
Isaiah 45:1-7
October 22, 2017

Philippians 1:2 (ESV) 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Anointed, the messiah is usually referred to Jesus the Christ, but Isaiah who is speaking for God is using the word anointed for Cyrus. Please note is not Miley Cyrus, the but Cyrus, ruler in Persia. We need to remember that the Almighty God uses people to accomplish His will, including bringing a pagan to power, who will eventually release God’s people from exile, so that God’s people will be able to return to the promised land. Once we have gotten over a pagan ruler being anointed by God, we may struggle with the end of the text, which says:

Isaiah 45:7 (ESV) 7 I form light and create darkness; (this bring back memories When God created the universe in Genesis) I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things.

God creates calamity? We rejoice with the idea that God create well-being, we may even want more well-being in our lives. But the idea that God creates calamity, we may struggle with.

Very often when calamity comes into our lives we will often ask God why? Why did you allow this to happen. We see the unrest in the world, we see the natural disasters, we see the exploiting of the week by the powerful and we shake our heads and ask why?

The idea that Christ works through the evil or calamity, may be the farthest thing from our minds. The problem for us is that we think that our will is God’s will. that if it makes sense to us that it will make sense to God. But it is not. God reminds us of this later in Isaiah 55:8 (ESV) 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. The will of God the father is complete different than our will. But don’t worry, because the key point here is that evil is not something that is out of control, but evil and calamity always answer to Christ Jesus.

Therefore Christ carries us through the evil. Our next fear is that maybe Christ will drop us or change His mind about us. In the introit for today, from Psalm 121, there was a word that repeated itself many times Psalm 121:5 (ESV) 5 The Lord is your keeper. What does it mean that the Lord Keeps us. Let use Luther’s explanation to the First Article of the Apostle’s creed.

The First Article: Creation
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
What does this mean?
I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them.
He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.
He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil.
All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.

God provides for all our needs, with our response which is to thank and praise serve and obey Him. Please note that serve and obey Him, includes times when we don’t understand what is going on nor do we see the reason for the calamity that may be in our lives.

So it begs the question, can we trust in God if He hasn’t given us all the details of His plans? Should we put our faith in one who does not tell us all things. Maybe this was the reason why for the first commandment: You shall have no other gods. Martin Luther writes What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

Above all things, means even when our mind doesn’t see any good in the calamity, but a trust that notes that Christ will keep us through the calamity and carry us through it.

Do we have a trust that regardless of what happens in this earthly life that Christ has a place prepared for us in heaven and that the chances and calamities of this world will never take away from us what Christ has prepared for us in heaven above? Remember that we take Christ and His promises at His word. We may remember Job’s words, Job 2:10 (ESV) 10 “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” With all the events going on in today’s world, maybe this would be a better verse to use from Amos 3:6 (ESV) 6 Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?

Do we believe that God is omnipotent, that is all-mighty as Genesis 17:1 (ESV) 1 “I am God Almighty”? Or do you thank that evil is out of control, and there is nothing the God can not. When we take God at His word, that God is almighty, we realize that God is in control regardless of what happens.

However one sad side note to all this. Cyrus, whom God anointed, and worked through to have God’s people return home from the exile, was not a believer. Cyrus may have seen God work at hand, but he never trusted in the God who anointed him.

You also have been anointed so to speak, through Holy Baptism, as God put His name upon you through simple water with God’s Word. While we may not understand the reasons for the calamity in the world, we know that because of God’s name upon us that Christ will carry us through the calamity, for Christ is all-mighty, and bring us to be with Christ in heaven above. In His name, Amen.

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

October 21, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Posted in Sermons

Eating Death

Eating Death
Isaiah 25:6–9
October 15, 2017

Philippians 1:2 (ESV) 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are going to move through the Old Testament reading which shows the heavenly banquet, with the idea that this is what heaven is like, and while we are waiting to join that banquet, we gather at the Lord’s Table you could say as an appetizer, to prepare us for the great feast which is to come.

Our text starts with mountain, since Isaiah is giving us a glimpse of the heavenly banquet, we can consider this place heaven. And just as Moses will up a mountain to God, we also go up a mountain as we attend here at Peace. This mouthing at Peace is not pessary a figure of our stairs, but the place where Christ meets His people.

On this Mountain there is a feast. This is where we get the idea of the great heavenly banquet. But for us here at Peace is not a reference to our upcoming Ocktobefest, but a different feast, that of the Lord’s Supper. Because notice what is happening on this mountain.

vs7 Christ will swallow up on this mountain the covering over the people and the veil that separates the people. What is this covering and veil, it is sin. For sin separates us from God. Isaiah explains this better letter in his book Isaiah 59:2 (ESV) 2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

Well on the mountain this is swallow up, including as vs 8 tells us the results of our sins which is death is swallowed up with sin. Hence all tears will be wiped away, along with the reproach the byproduct of our sin, all taken away. Here at Peace we proclaim that when Christ Jesus died on the He delivered us from our sins, from death, and from bondage of the devil.

1 Corinthians 15:54 (ESV) 54 “Death is swallowed up in victory.” That victory the Christ Jesus death upon the cross brought us.

Eating Death, is not something that we do, but is what Christ has accomplished for us.

With reference to the Lord’s Supper, which we celebrate here at Peace St. Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 11:26 (ESV) 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

So when we come to the Lord’s Supper here at Peace we are proclaiming the Lord’s Death by which Christ consumes death, so that we gain the victory over sin, death and the devil.

In heaven the victory will be finally realized, no sin, no death. But while we are this side of heaven, Christ Jesus gives us His supper as a glimpse of the heavenly feast. For in the Supper we have forgiveness of sin, as Matthew reminds us:

Matthew 26:26–29 (ESV) 26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Isaiah 25:9 (ESV) 9 It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

The waiting for dinner, when you are hungry, this can be the longest period of your day. There is a wait, for when we will be at this heavenly banquet. That is where the appetizer comes in. The know to help you wait until the dinner is ready. For us this side of heaven, the appetizer is the Lord’s Supper. For in the Lord’s Supper we have this meal, forgiveness, and we have the table fellowship, with others around this table and we have a special connection with Christ and all of Christendom, that is with all that are in Christ Jesus. We wait until the day we have full fellowship in the great heavenly banquet, but we are not alone in our waiting.

The Matthew version of the Lord’s Supper from chapter 26 I ended at verse 28, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. But verse 29 says
29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” We are not the only ones waiting, but while we are waiting, we receive Christ in His body and blood with the bread and wine and we rejoice.

Where does the rejoicing comes in, again with the Lord’s Supper. We rejoice in what Christ has done for us. We rejoice as another name of the Lord’s Supper reminds us, that of the Eucharist. The word Eucharist comes from the greek word for giving thanks.

1 Corinthians 11:23–24 (ESV) 23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Our Lord had given thanks, the thanksgiving, in which we also give thanks that we have this Supper, the Body and blood of Christ, to prepare us for the heavenly banquet. So also we rejoice and glad in the supper of our Lord. For Christ has saved us from sin death and the devil, and while we wait for that final day, we gather around His word and Supper, the appetizer, for strength as we await the chief course the great heavenly banquet. In His name, Amen.

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

October 21, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Posted in Sermons

Another Chance

Another Chance
Psalm 80:7–19
October 8, 2017

Philippians 1:2 (ESV) 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the early Christian church, Christianity was still illegal. So if you neighbor through you were a Christian, the neighbor could just turn you in. Then came the judicial question, how do you know that the person is really a Christian. This question plagued some judges, until they realize that if you clear the room accept for the accused, and asked the accused if there were a Christian, you may get a positive answer of “Yes”, even though the sentence was death, you had Christians saying admitting they they were indeed a Christian. But what would happen when the Christian would deny their faith in a court room. The judge would often let them go, which then created a dilemma for the early Christian church. Would you receive back into the fellowship of the church someone who just renounced the Christian faith, especially after performing many Christian funerals for those who didn’t renounce the faith. Besides the Christian community was also trying to take care the of the families of those who had just lost a loved one. It wasn’t an easy answer, the but church, remember that even Peter who denied knowing Christ three times, was also restored by Christ after the resurrection. Another chance give by Christ, while we as humans often struggle with giving others another chance.

This look into early Christian church history gives us a glimpse into our Psalm text for today. From Psalm 80. The opening and closing verses of our reading has the first word as Restore, restore us. The first word says it all, restore, we need that restoration, that second chance.

But the Psalmist uses an illustration of a vine, which is symbolizes God’s people. v8 brought out of Egypt, given the promised land by moving out other nations. God’s people took root and filled the land, Where the vine even covered the mountains, showing how God’s people prospered, but then something happened. The walls which protected the vine were broken down, and the vine was ravaged. So there is a plea from the Psalmist for God to look down with references from your right hand and the son whom you made strong for yourself. Which is a beautiful reference to Jesus at the right hand of God, as we confess in the Creed. We know that Christ Jesus did come down from heaven and defeated devil by dieting on the cross for our restoration, but I am getting ahead of myself. The vine was burned with another call out to God, from the Psalmist The why behind this is coming, just like when God’s people would go into exile, because of their unbelief, vs 18 notes “Then we shall not turn back from you (if I may add again) give us life and we will call upon your name. You have to admire the Psalmist in his faith, knowing that God gives another chance.

While the Psalmist did not know the detail of God’s people into exile, nor the great salvation of Christ Jesus taking on flesh and blood and sacrificing Himself on the cross so that we have forgiveness, but the Psalmist did know of the gracious love and forgiveness that God brings.

While we may know the details of Christ atonement better than the Psalmist when the Psalmist wrote these words, however we may not always realize how much God loves sand restore us, like the Psalmist did. Why did I say that, well we like the early Christians, may also struggle with forgiving others, even after Christ has freely forgiven us.

Let’s take a look at the The Fifth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer: And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Luther writes: What does this mean?
We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny our prayer because of them.

We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment.

It is the last line that is the one that trips us up. Luther writes:
So we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us.

Ouch. Now we can see why the early Christians struggle with welcoming back those who denied the Christian faith. We also struggle, when someone sins against us.

This is why the prayer of the day, the collect has:
Gracious God, You gave Your Son into the hands of sinful men who killed Him. Forgive us when we reject Your unfailing love, and grant us the fullness of Your salvation. We realize that we will sin and reject God’s love.

When the Lord’s Prayer says forgive us “as we forgive those who trespass against us” may haunt us, but that is not the intent. God freely forgives our sins. Everyday we sin greatly, and God graciously forgives. You are forgiven. Period. You are forgiven not because you so freely forgive, but because of Christ. As we prayed the Collect we admit that we don’t freely forgive. We struggle with forgiving others. But when we do forgive, we have a confirmation, an assurance that we ourselves are also forgiven by God Himself, since God’s forgiveness is flowing through us to other people. As we can see that forgiveness flowing through us to others, we also see God forgiveness for ourselves, which is our Restoration.

The Psalmist begins and ends our text for today with Psalm 80:7 (ESV) 7 Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! God graciously shines His forgives upon us. Another Chance given by Christ. In His name, Amen.

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

October 7, 2017 at 1:53 pm