Sermons from February 8, 2015 to October 16, 2016 preached to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God the Father and Christ Jesus, our Lord.
TEXT: we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Romans 3:19-28
There is no greater word that can be spoken by the lips of men.
There is no good work that a man can do that surpasses the faithful, "Amen!" to God's Word.
"Amen" is a word that signifies the speaker's agreement with the conclusion "that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law."
"Amen" - A Hebrew word pronounced, (aw-mane'); it is a form of the word that means " - (to be) firm or faithful, to trust or believe, to be permanent or quiet; morally to be true or certain."
So to say "Amen," is simply to be certain of the truthfulness of God's Word; to be still and know that God is faithful to His Word; to trust and believe that His Word does not come and go according to His passing fancy, but it is permanent and certain to work everything for good for those who are content to simply hear it and let it be so.
Amen - truth, certainty, yes it is so, so be it, this is most certainly true.
Sound familiar? It is the closing catechetical phrase for, "Amen, amen means 'yes, yes, it shall be so.'"
If Adam and Eve had been content to say Amen in the beginning, it would have saved a whole lot of misery for them and very generation to come.
But instead of saying , "Amen," Adam and Eve replaced the truth and the it shall be so of God with the "I juswanna" of man.
In the beginning, God spoke and it was so, and it was not only good, but after having made man in His image, after giving them all of His good creation for their benefit and livelihood, and after giving them the ability and the command to multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it (take that all you pagan, earth firsters) - Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Gen 1:31
And God also clearly spoke to how man could continue to live the good life in this very good world, which He had created --
The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Gen 2:8-9
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Gen 2:16-17
Well not for the father of lies.
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" Gen. 3:1
Now if Adam, Eve's husband and pastor, had stepped in here and said a simple, "Amen, you better believe it!" All would be paradise still.
But instead of saying, "Amen!" and having the matter finished, Adam and said, in effect, "I juswanna see what makes the woman happy." And the woman thought something like, "I juswanna make sure I'm not missing something."
And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'"
Now as you can see by her words, this was no reliance upon and "amen" to God's words, but a speculative addition to them - a speculation the evil one was quick to seize upon as an opening for his temptation.
Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit
[and behold!, having touched it she did not die as she imagined God had said she would]
and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
Transfixed by the tempter's twisting of God's Word, and emboldened by their own misinterpretation, Eve and her husband and pastor -- who with every good intention thought, "I juswanna please my wife --" exchanged the truth of God for the lie [Rom. 1:25]. They traded the "Amen, this is most certainly true because God has spoken it," Gospel of life for the "Ahhhh -- Men! What do you think? What do you feel? What do you juswanna do," Law that brings death.
One Lutheran pastor, in his sermon today, sums up the message of the Reformation as, "Out with the Law; In with the Gospel" - and rightly so, for this is the message of Christ.
I have summed this same message of the Reformation as, Law & Gospel Restored."
That sounds rather contradictory, doesn't it? But think about it. What is the proper place of the Law? It kills. "If you eat of it you will surely die." And what is the proper place of the Gospel? It gives life. "Eat of it freely, and you shall live life abundantly and forever."
So truly, to say "out with the Law and in with the Gospel," is to restore Law & Gospel to their proper place.
That is all Luther sought to do when he posted those 95 theses on the Wittenburg Church door.
More accurately, he was not even seeking to do the restoring or casting out of the old and bringing in of the new, he was merely calling God's people to speak the hearty, "Amen!" of faith, rather than the feeble, "Ahhh-Men, what do you juswanna do?" of sin.
The trouble facing Luther and the church in the 16th century is the same trouble that faced Adam & Eve. And it is the same trouble that faces us today - the I juswanna of sin and the Law.
In the beginning, God saw all that He had done and it was very good - and He rested because it was finished.
But man knew better. Adam & Eve, formed in the very image of God, turned away from God's sure and certain Word that accomplished His good and perfect will for them without fail.
So Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God, took on the form of that fallen flesh and reformed it in God's perfect image - knowing no sin of His own, yet taking on ours and killing it dead on Calvary, where once again, and for all time and people God proclaimed, "Tetelestai! - It is finished!"
Tetelestai! The greatest Word spoken by the Son of Man once and for all, is now echoed and confessed by the "Amen!" of those He has baptized into His death to participate even now in His resurrection.
Tetelestai! It is finished! The Gospel has been restored.
And you, dear baptized children of God, have been reformed. You have concluded, with the Apostle Paul, [that you have been] justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. For you who once had a taste only for the "I juswanna" of the forbidden tree, now eat of the tree of Life that forgives you all of your sins - in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit - and with all the saints of God say . . .
Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.
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