A Sermon for the Third Sunday in Easter

Sermon by Pastor Bror Erickson, First Lutheran Church, Tooele, UT

 

[44] Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” [45] Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, [46] and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, [47] and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. [48] You are witnesses of these things. [49] And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:44-49 (ESV) “He suffered and was buried and the third day he rose again from the dead according to the scriptures.” “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” [45] Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, [46] and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, [47] and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” I get a kick our of people who say “no creed but the Bible.” You have to deny Holy Scripture, the Bible, in order to deny the creeds of Christendom. These creeds do nothing but summarize the Bible in light of Christ’s death and resurrection. That is they teach scripture. There is no contradiction between the two. And why in light of Christ’s death and resurrection? Because according to Scripture itself this is what the Bible is about. The Bible is about Christ crucified, and that alone. Christ crucified is the Gospel. It is what God wants you to know if you know nothing else. Christ crucified, and that alone saves you from sin, death, and the power of the devil. Books can be funny at times. People read them and often come up with different understandings of what they are about. I thought “Old Man and the Sea” by Earnest Hemingway was about a man catching a big fish and being lost at sea for three days. I thought it was nothing more than a good adventure story taking place in Cuba. You see I am a big Ernest Hemingway fan. I love his books, and admire his larger than life, life. His gutsy outdoorsman bravado etc. However, I am not much of a literary buff. I don’t know how to catch all the symbolism, in stories and so on. I need it explained to me, most of the time. So I thought “Old Man and the Sea” was an adventure story. That is until I talked to a professor of literature at Concordia Irvine. He opened my eyes, if you will, to show me how the whole thing was really about Christ, a sort of retelling of Jonah and the whale. (Big fish for all you uptight literalists, I don’t think though that Israelites made a distinction between big fish and whales.) How did this Prof. do that? He took me to the book, and showed me the clues that are in there. Three days at sea, thought to be dead, etc. just coincidence? It really is a redemption story! Hemingway wrote it during a bout with Catholicism, he had a few bouts with Christianity between his more famous bouts with bottles. The thing is, none of the clues about the true meaning of “Old Man and the Sea” were anywhere near as glaring a clue, a hint, as Christ’s statement in the Gospel lesson today. So it somewhat surprises me what people do in interpreting the Bible. They absolutely refuse to let the Bible interpret itself! It matters not how many times Christ makes statements like “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” (John 5:39 (ESV) People don’t see it. They ignore what the Bible has to say about itself, and its true meaning. Inevitably they search the scriptures, and make it about law and themselves. They never get past the repentance aspect of it, and move to the forgiveness of sins that is found in Jesus Christ. They would rather try to find salvation in repentance than in Jesus Christ. Therefore they never repent. They never repent of trusting in their own works above Jesus Christ who died that we might have life. It is idol worship of the worst kind to put your faith in the work of your own hands, whether it be an idol you made of wood or gold, or helping out at the local soup kitchen. The work of your hands is helpless to give you salvation. But it seems so blasphemous to us, it is blasphemous to the god of our sinful human nature to think that Christ has done it all for us, and there is nothing we can do about it. We think it is a fluke. Why is there law in the Bible if we can’t be saved by it? Doesn’t God want us to follow His law? Yes, but we cannot do it as long as we retain the law as our god, the god of our sinful human nature. The law is good, it is holy, but it cannot be our god, because it cannot give us salvation. But it is because law is such a cherished god to our human nature that we fail to read the Bible aright. It is utter blasphemy to our Old Adam to think that Christ has done it all for us. And it is utter blasphemy in the face of God to put our faith in anything else than the cross of Christ, Christ crucified, Christ’s death and resurrection. Nothing could be more repulsive to the pride within us than the idea that the whole Bible is really not about rules after all, but about God becoming man in Jesus Christ, and dying for our sins on the cross. So man will read the Bible with any other lens than the one Christ gave us, and latch on to the law and make it our god. Seriously, it amazes me to what lengths people will go to hold on to the law, and write off Christ’s death and the forgiveness of sins. We would rather believe that the sky was pink with yellow pokadots. And we may as well believe that if we actually believe that in the face of Christ’s death and resurrection we can contribute anything at all to our salvation. So why the law? So that repentance can be preached, so that we can know that our sins are forgiven. The law does not give life. It kills. At least it should. When you read the law you should see how helpless you are to save yourself. You should see the need for Christ. You should see the absolute need for forgiveness. God gives us the law first and foremost so that we will see what utter sinners we are, and the corruption of death that is within us. The law serves as a backdrop, a contrast that highlights the gospel. But the Bible is about the Gospel, it is about Jesus Christ, His death and His resurrection through which he attained our salvation and forgives our sins. It isn’t just some of the scriptures that are about this, it is every page, every jot and tittle, it all serves to point us to Christ! Because In Christ and Him alone we have salvation, and God desires that all be saved, even you. Even you. He wants you to be saved. So He gives you Jesus, He forgives you your sins, and gives you His word. And in case you missed it he makes it painfully obvious to you what his word is about. It is about Him, it is fulfilled in Him, not you. It is about His death and resurrection, in which you have the forgiveness of sins and life itself. Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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The idea that the Bible ought to be a rule book for Christian living is quite popular these days.

This can be a good thing in the short run, and a really bad thing in the long run.

Why?     Do you agree or disgree with that assertion?

“I don’t believe in sin”

I heard that from a woman yesterday.

“I don’t believe in air.”   I might have said.  

“And that whole thing about babies sinning, how ridiculous is that.”

If one would ever see two babies fighting over a rattle (or anything else), one might just get a clue.

She’s not alone. There are many who hold such similar notions that the antiquated views of the Bible are just that.

“I don’t need a Savior!”  “Savior from what?”

Well, if you don’t need a Savior, then you shall not have one. 

The Savior (Oh, Him again) said that He came only for the “sick”. The healthy have no need to get well.

That poor woman was completely healthy. Didn’t need a thing. Doesn’t need a Savior.  A ‘life coach’ would be alright. That wouldn’t wouldn’t hurt. Everyone can use a little tune-up, right?

 

Can you be tuned-up?     Or should God start over again with you?

“If it is for this life only that we have hoped we are the most to be pitied.”

This world is terrific!      This world stinks!

It is both, is it not?

Well, let’s clean it up and make it into what it ought to be!  The way it used to be until mankind messed it up.  

This world and everything in it is passing away.  This world and everything in it is caught in sin and death.  God’s judgment is upon this world and everything in it.  We (believers) know that we cannot save it.  Well, some of us know that.

So we throw all our eggs into the next world, right?

Wrong. 

We still have to live here.  This world is a gift from God.  We ought take care of it, and everything in it (including those scummy neighbors of ours).

We have a duty to do so.  But that duty does not supplant our knowledge (obtained from scripture and common reason) that this world is not the be all and end all of God’s Kingdom.

There is another world, a new one, that our Lord intends on bringing. We are a part of that New Kingdom already. Living within us is the Lord and Ruler of that New Kingdom.

So we are free to do whatever we can for His New Kingdom.We can announce the One who died for us and forgives us, and who bring His New Kingdom. We can attempt to spread the Good News of His gospel!

And we are free to work for justice and peace in this world. We are free to protect our families and neighbors from the tyranny of evil, knowing full well that only when the Son of Man returns with His Holy angels will there be everlasting peace and justice. 

 Or, maybe you think I’m  wrong. Do you think that this world can be salvaged?

Barriers to God’s Grace

Listen to this short message (about 13 minutes) by Pastor Patrick Thurmer of Living Faith Church, Cape Coral, Florid a

 

 click here:

The-Greatest-Barrier-to-Grace

What do you think is the greatest barrier to God’s grace in your life?

More Evangelical Lunacy

“Happy Resurrection Sunday!”

 Huh??

Every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday…is it not?  Every single day is resurrection Sunday, for the believer, is it not?

Why does Evangelicalism have to try and ruin everything?  Why do they feel the need to throw out a long treasured Christian celebration like Easter?

The next thing you know, they will be saying “Merry Incarnational Sunday” on Christmas morning.

He Lives!

No grave could hold Him.

And because of His grace and mercy for the ungodly…no grave will hold us either.

Have a wondeful Easter! 

All because of our Lord Jesus Christ!

We must die

We must.

Sin demands payment. New life is dependant on it.

No death…no life. 

“If you would gain your life, you must lose it for my sake.”

There are some “Christian blogs” and “Christian churches” that really don’t believe that. They really don’t believe in dying to the self. They are really ALL ABOUT AFFIRMING  ‘THE SELF“.

Instead of using God’s Law as a hammer to crush the rebellious ‘self’, they prop up that ‘self’ by making him/her believe that he/she is really “NOT ALL THAT BAD”…and with a little cleaning up(a little help from the church) they can become what they really ought to be. OR..they don’t even bother with any of that and they just say “anything goes”. “There really is no sin (sin is an old fashioned “bible word” – we know better now) so just do your best, it’s all about love and acceptance, and trying , and giving, and being tolerant”… yada ,yada, yada.

The trouble with both those errant views is that NO DYING takes place.

Good Friday was (is) all about ‘death’. 

It was about what we really think of God (in the end). He shows up in His goodness and mercy and love…and we stake Him to rough timbers untill every drop of life runs out of Him.

Jesus knew this would happen to Him.  He knew (and knows) what’s in our hearts.

And yet He went freely to that death.  He tells His followers that we must also die.

We must die to thinking that we can do anything without Him. That we are “not that bad”. That we can take the stench of sin out of ourselves. That we can, by just trying our best, become better in His eyes. We must die to all of that.

That cross tells us that we will die. It tells us that there is no escaping death. No easing it, no skirting it.

And that is what God’s law does. It puts us to death. That we might have remorse for our sin. That we might be humbled, repent and believe… at least for a while.

Then, when we are sufficiently dead…can raise us again to new life…even as the Father raised our Lord Jesus on that Glorious morning.

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That view is not very popular toady. It makes God’s Law into a demand (which it is – laws that do not demand anything really are not laws) and many despise not being able to live any way they want to, without guilt.

It also takes the religious “God project” out of the hands of those that like religion. That enjoy playing the game of  ‘religious self improvement’.

“Yeah, Buts!”…start your engines!!!

Are the “yeah, but’s” trying to stave off death?

Good Friday

(from the Lutheran Church of the Master’s monthly publication, ‘The Mast’)

A common service for Good Friday is Tenebrae (Lati n for “shadows”, or “darkness”).

Sometimes this term is applied generally to all church services on the last three days of  Holy week. More specifically, however, it is used of the Service of Darkness or Service of Shadows, usually held in the evening of Good Friday.

Again, there are varieties of this service, but it is usually characterized by a series of Scripture readings and meditation done in stages while lights and/or candles are gradually extinguished to symbolize the growing darkness not only of Jesus’ death  but of hopelessness in the world without God.

The service ends in darkness, sometimes with a final candle, the Christ candle, carried out of the sanctuary, symbolizing the death of Jesus.

The worshippers then leave in silence to await the Easter celebration.

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Good Friday services have fallen on hard times in many churches these days. Many churches do not have services on Good Friday.

Those that do have seen a large drop off in attendance.  This is true for the congregation of which I am a member.

Why would you think that is?

What good can come from a service such as this?

Maundy Thursday, April 9th 2009

( from Lutheran Church of the Master’s monthly publication, ‘The Mast’)

Traditionally in the Christian Church, this day is known as Maundy Thursday. The term ‘Maundy’ comes from the Latin word mandatum (from which we get our English word mandate), a verb that means “to give”, “to entrust”, or “to order”.  The term is usually  translated to “commandment”, from John’s account of that Thursday night.  According to the Fourth Gospel, as Jesus’ and the Disciples were eating their final meal together before Jesus’ arrest, he washed the disciple’s feet to illustrate humility and the spirit of servanthood.  After they had finished the meal, as they walked into the night toward Gethsemane, Jesus taught his disciples a “new” commandment, that was not really new  (John 13:34-35) :

 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, you also ought to love another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

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In your opinion, are the word’s that Jesus spoke on that Thursday night, concerning loving one another, words of law, or are they words of gospel?

Palm Sunday April 5th, 2009

(from Lutheran Church of the Master’s monthly publication ‘The Mast’)

This Sunday observes the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jer usalem that was marked by the crowds, who were in Jerusalem for passover, waving palm branches and procaliming  him as the messianic king. The Gospels tell us that Jesus rode into the city on a donkey, enacting the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, and in so doing emphasized the humilty that was to characterize the Kingdom he proclaimed. The irony of his acceptance as the new Davidic King (Mark11:10) by the crowds who would only five days later cry for his execution should be a sobering reminder of the human tendency to want God on our own terms.

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Are there ways in which you can see this tendency in yourself and the way you might often view the Living God as someone who will provide you with things that are not necessarily things that you need?

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