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The same promise for all

Ephesians 4:1-11

Pastor David Ernst

17th Sunday after Trinity
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Oct 13, 2019 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

One Lord, one faith, one baptism. What do the words in our text for today mean?

Today is the day of the baptism of Dubraska Rachell Alexandra Santana Marquina. Today she will receive the faith and the new life that the Holy Spirit creates through water linked to the Word of God. This is the invitation to the wedding feast that the Lord speaks in our gospel (Luke 14: 1-11). It is not the only instance that He spoke of the kingdom of God as a banquet or wedding party. In this case, the Lord told the Pharisees:

"When you are invited by one to a wedding feast, do not seat yourself in the first place, lest another more distinguished than you be invited, and whoever invited both of you, come and tell you: Give up your place; and then you begin with shame to take the last place. But when you are invited, go, and sit in the last place; so that when the one who invited you comes, tell you: Friend, come up higher; then you will have glory before those who sit down together at the table. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled; and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. "

The point is, we must receive the grace of God with humility. Not with pride or selfishness, but with the recognition that we do not deserve the gift of eternal life. Everyone has the same promise in baptism, the promise of eternal life. Each time someone is baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Spirit is active in this invocation to accomplish the new birth.

Our church is called the Lutheran church because of Martin Luther, the priest and monk who began the Reformation in the 16th century, a cleansing of the temple of God from false doctrine. On October 27, 2019, we will celebrate another anniversary of this Reformation. We believe that in the Augsburg Confession, the declaration of faith of the Lutheran reformers, we have the pure teaching of the apostolic church. But, we don't believe we have a new revelation or key to a secret teaching. We use the same Holy Scriptures, the same creeds of the church as from the beginning. We have the same faith of the entire Christian world. Jesus Christ is our Savior, the incarnation of the Son of God, who died in our place on the cross to strike the price of our sins and in Him we have the promise of eternal life.

Furthermore, we confess every Sunday in our creed that we believe in one church, holy, apostolic and universal, although in this world there are many sects that say they are the true church of Christ, but they have different doctrines. We believe that the true church is the body of all who believe in the promise of baptism by faith in Jesus Christ. In this church there are no hypocrites or false believers, because everyone has the same faith in their hearts. But, only God knows what is in the depth of the human heart, so only He knows this church in its entirety. This church, therefore, is invisible to us in its entirety. But we can find this church in the visible church and we find the church visible in every place where people gather to hear the Word of God written in the Scriptures and receive the sacraments according to the Lord's command.

In this visible church there are hypocrites, if there are false believers. But among them are true believers, because anywhere the Word is proclaimed and the nations are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity, the Spirit is active to create saving faith. Those who do not believe in Jesus Christ do not see with the eyes of faith and see a divided and weak church. But, when the Lord returns in his glory, we will see the church in its power with all true believers of all nations, races, tribes and tongues around the throne on which the Lamb of God sits, with countless angels and archangels, as says Saint John in the book of Revelation.

In our Lutheran church, we preserve pure doctrine, but with humility. All our readings for today speak of walking on the right path with humility. We are guided by the Spirit who speaks with us in the Word and the sacraments, not by our own understanding. And everyone has the same promise in baptism, which is our entry into the family of God, this house of the Lord.

St. Paul made the comparison between the Christian life and the Passover events of the Jews. When the Lord sent the last plague to the land of Egypt, the death of the firstborn, Moses commanded the people of Israel to sacrifice a spotless lamb and paint their doors with blood. And the angel of death surpassed the houses of the Israelites. This corresponds to the sacrifice of our Lamb of God on the cross. When the Israelites finally escaped slavery by crossing the waters of the Red Sea, this corresponds to baptism. But, after crossing the Red Sea, God's people should travel for 40 years in the desert until they enter the Promised Land. In the desert, the Lord sustained them with manna, the bread of heaven, and water from a rock. The desert corresponds to our earthly life and the sacrament is our spiritual food and drink.

Also, as I said preschoolers this week, we are saved by baptism as Noah and his family were saved from the flood. St. Peter says so in his first letter, chapter three. The church is our ark and we have new life by the same water that drowns sinful nature. Since the rainbow was the sign of God's mercy for Noah, the mark of the cross is our sign of salvation.

And the promise is for everyone. The words, "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit," means not only all the tribes, all races and languages, but also children, youth, adults and the elderly. Someone can receive baptism at any stage of life, although it is a great blessing to have the promise from childhood. When the Lord said everyone must enter the kingdom of God as children, it means that as the baby trusts in the arms of their parents without understanding, all of us receive baptism not by our own understanding, but by faith in God's promise.

But, with baptism the Christian life begins, it is not the end of the story. We have our trip in the desert, with spiritual food and drink to sustain us. Then, the goal after the child's baptism is to prepare him to receive the sacrament. Children do not receive the sacrament immediately because of the warning that everyone should receive the body and blood of the Lord with dignity. That is, they must recognize and repent of their sins and discern the body and blood in the sacrament. Therefore, we encourage the parents and godparents of a child to teach him in the 10 Commandments, the moral law, the Creed, which explains the Trinity and the person and work of Christ, and the Our Father, the model of our prayers.

In baptism we receive all the grace of God. If we fall into sins, we can return to the right path by the promise of baptism. We don't have to do penance to avoid purgatory, or do something else to be justified by faith. Today Dubraska Rachell Alexandra receives this promise, and the hope and peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.

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