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The Church is right here

1 Corinthians 1:4-9

Pastor David Ernst

18th Sunday after Trinity
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Oct 11, 2009 

The Third Article of the Apostle's Creed speaks of the holy church:

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints: the forgiveness of sins: the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.

How do these things fit together? By the work of the Holy Spirit in baptism, we receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of faith in Jesus Christ, and the promise of resurrection and the live everlasting. These are the benefits of membership in Christ's holy Church.

But what is this Church in truth? It is the total number of those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. There is only one of this Church because there is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ. This Church is holy because all believers have been washed in the blood of Christ to serve God with a holy life.

In our world today, there are many sects which claim to be "Christian", but do not proclaim the true Gospel. We thank God that we have the Bible, the written Word of God by divine inspiration. The Bible does not belong to this group or that group. It is a faithful testimony for the ages in all parts of the world. Nobody has a key or code to interpret the Bible that others do not have.

And the Holy Spirit is active in the preaching of the Bible. Wherever the Word of God is preached, there will be true believers who gather in a congregation to hear the World and receive the sacraments that our Lord instituted. We find the Christian Church in visible form wherever the Wordis preached in its purity and the sacraments correctly administered.

But among the true believes in this visible church there always will be hypocrites or false believers. That is, these people do not have true faith in Christ, but other motives. For example, they may be concern strictly with the approval of family and friends who also attend church. In fact, there are true servants of the Devil inside the visible church, because Satan's objective is to divide, if not destroy the Church.

Only God is the infallible Judge of who has true faith or not, because true faith is found inside the human heart, and only God can search the heart. But we do not have to worry about the false believers, because if we believe in the Word of God, in the promise of baptism, we are members of the invisible church, which cannot be divided by sects or schisms. The promises of God are forever sure.

In today's epistle, the Apostle Paul was writing to a congregation with many problems. Many people were fighting among themselves, many people were not living as God's saints. Many teachers of false doctrine were trying to lead the Corinthian Christians astray.

But Paul gives thanks for all of them, because Christ suffered and died for all, and the Holy Spirit called all to communion with Jesus Christ. And they given all the spiritual gifts that God gives us so that we may live as His sons and daughters.

As Dr. Martin Luther wrote: This is the sum and substance of this phrase (communion of the saints). I believe that in this world there is a small holy flock or community of pure saints under Christ as its Head. They are called together by the Holy Spirit in one faith, mind and understanding....I am a parte and member of this community, a participant and part, according to 1 Corinthians 1:9, in all of the blessings that it possesses,"

You are a small group, and very young, but Christ has begun a work in you and if you persevere steadfastly in the faith, He will keep you safely to eternity. You have all the gifts of the Spirit, the Word, baptism and the Lord's Supper.

You have the promise of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your lives: joy, hope, love, patience, certainty and more.

Look at the example of King Solomon in our Old Testament lesson (2 Chronicles 1:7-12). God offered him whatever Solomon needed to govern Israel. The young king in humble faith asked only for wisdom. Therefore, God said, "Well done, My son!" and gave him all other blessings that a king might desire: riches, long life, victory over his enemies and more.

Because of this, you tiny group has the potential and the promise, that with the help of the Holy Spirit, you may sow the Word of God in this community, all of La Caramuca and beyond. Let us thank God for His gifts to every one of us. Amen.

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