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Our Resurrected Savior Is Our Atonement-Advocate

1 John 2:1-2 (1:1-2:2)

Rev. Thomas Handrick, Sr.

Third Sunday of Easter
Immanuel Lutheran Church & School  
Perryville, MO

View Associated File

Sun, Apr 30, 2006
Third Sunday of Easter
 

"My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.  And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."

INTRODUCTION: Although I have never personally experienced the questionable excitement of being summoned into court because of having broken a law, perhaps there are some here today who have had that exciting experience.  However, one thing I do know (at least, if the television shows are anywhere near accurate) is that if I am ever in that predicament I want to have a topnotch defense attorney with me.  I want one who knows the law thoroughly and can ably represent and defend me against all odds!  I want an attorney who can be my successful advocate and, thereby, get my neck out of the legal noose!

God, our righteous Judge, has summoned all of us to appear in His court of divine law and justice as indicted sinners.  As such, we are in dire need of an excellent attorney who can successfully defend us, liberate us from our guilt, and get our necks out of the noose of eternal damnation in the unquenchable fires of hell.

Well, I'm joyfully excited to tell you that we have such an Attorney!  The ultimate irony, however, is that He does not argue our case to get the indictments thrown out of court.  Instead, He Himself took our place and bore our guilt for us.  Who is this amazing Attorney?  Most, if not all, of us know who He is.  The answer is simply that …

Transition: OUR RESURRECTED SAVIOR IS OUR ATONEMENT-ADVOCATE because He Is the Incarnate Word and He Is the Light of Life.

I. HE IS THE INCARNATE WORD. [1:1-4: "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.  These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete."] The most important and eternally-significant question we will ever answer is the one Jesus asked His disciples,

(Matt 16:15; Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20) "But who do you say that I am?"

His disciple Peter gave the correct answer when he declared,

(Matt 16:16) "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Our 1991 Synodical Catechism helps us understand that truth with the following two questions-and-answers,

(LUTHER'S SMALL CATECHISM WITH EXPLANATION, © 1991 CPH, p. 119 & 118.) "118. Who is Jesus Christ?  Jesus Christ is 'true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary.'

"117. What does it mean when you confess, 'I believe in Jesus Christ?' It means that I know and trust in Jesus Christ as my only Savior from sin, death, and the devil and believe that He gives me eternal life."

This very Jesus Christ is the One Whose suffering, death, and resurrection from the dead we formally celebrated with Christians throughout the world a mere two weeks ago!  This very Jesus Christ is the One Whose suffering, death, and resurrection from the dead we joyfully celebrate every weekend here at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville, Missouri, as Pastor Marks emphasized in his Easter Sunday sermon!  We do so because He alone gives us forgiveness of sins, salvation, and eternal life.  Because of such ...

A. We have fellowship with one another through Jesus.  One man and one woman in the context of marriage properly enjoy fellowship with each other through the physical union of sexual intercourse.  Sexual intercourse is an intimate personal profession of the marriage vows that precede it.  It is God-pleasing only when it is with the marriage spouse and follows after the exchange of marriage vows in which the one man and one woman promise faithful commitment to each other as husband and wife.  To engage in sexual intercourse or even the physical activity that leads to it before marriage or with someone other than the marriage spouse is to sinfully participate in what God has designed and ordained for the marriage relationship alone.

Similarly, we agree with and abide by the historic Biblical practice of closed or close communion.  That is, we join together with Christians that confess the same faith and practice that we confess at this very altar of God to receive Christ's real body and blood from this very altar of God, as Pastor Cole emphasized in his Maundy Thursday sermon.  As we do so, God assures us of His mercy and grace and we give public testimony to the unity of faith (fellowship) with those with whom we commune.  The very word "communion" captures this truth.  It means "with oneness, with unity."  It is a oneness or unity we have with each other because ...

B. We have fellowship with the Father through Jesus and even with Jesus.  That's the foundation and basis of our fellowship with each other!  Our relationship with fellow Christians of the one true faith grows out of and publicly expresses our oneness with our heavenly Father and His dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit established that relationship through the Blessed Sacrament of Holy Baptism.  In that sacred sacramental drowning, He cleansed us of all our sins (even those of premarital or extramarital sexual activity), gave us faith in Jesus Christ, united us with the Father and His dear Son, and labeled us with the new family identity of "Christian."  In addition, He daily renews and strengthens that relationship as we hear, read, and study His Holy Word.

Of course, the Anchor that holds us steady in this turbulent world of sinfully stormy seas is none other than the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ.  His real appearance in this world in human flesh-and-blood as Immanuel (God with us); His real victory over sin, Satan, and death itself for us; and His real promise to be with us always assures us that ...

Transition: OUR RESURRECTED SAVIOR IS OUR ATONEMENT-ADVOCATE because He Is the Incarnate Word and He Is the Light of Life.

II. HE IS THE LIGHT OF LIFE. [1:5-10: "This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us."] Light is a very wonderful and beneficial gift from God.  As a young child I often felt fear and fright in dark rooms, something that light chased away.  As an adult, I realized just how wonderful and beneficial light is when I was deep in an underground cave at InnerSpace Caverns near Austin, Texas.  The guide turned off the electric lights and I found myself in total darkness ... so dark that I could NOT even see my hands in front of my face ... so dark that I could feel the darkness (or so it seemed)!  It was oppressive and frightening.  Thankfully, with the simple flick of a switch the guide turned on the electric lights, light flooded the underground cave, and I could once again see.

In a somewhat similar fashion, ...

A. God's Light dispels sin's darkness.  Satan desires and seeks to plunge us into spiritual darkness with his temptations to sin.  When we compromise and transgress God's holy will by obeying the desires of the devil, the world around us, and our own sinful selves, we place ourselves in utter and oppressive darkness.  That darkness would smother, choke, and eternally separate us from God Himself if God Himself did not come to our rescue.

Jesus Christ is God's Light of life.  He sent Him into our sin-darkened world to atone for our sins; rescue, redeem, and reconcile us to Himself; and turn on His light of salvation that bathes us in the comfort and security of His peace.

Among the deepest darkest depths of despair is deception.  That's what the Apostle John was battling with this epistle as Rev. Kienker told us last weekend in his sermon.  John fought against the false teachings of Cerinthus then and we battle against those same false teachings today that present themselves in the forms of "The Da Vinci Code," "The Judas Gospel," seven-step programs that claim to produce happiness, 40-day processes that promise prosperity, and others that declare that Jesus was not true God or obscure His divine nature as Son of God and Savior of mankind.

Darkness runs in.  Despair reigns.  Despondency rules.  The devil plants seeds of doubt as Thomas experienced.  And, the only way for us to benefit from God's light that dispels sin's darkness is knowing and practicing the reality that ...

B. Confession and absolution cleanses us from guilt.  Confession and absolution is sometimes referred to as the third sacrament although it lacks a visible physical element.  Nevertheless, it both restores relationships with God and others broken by sin and prepares us for proper participation in the Blessed Sacrament of Holy Communion.  Turning again to our 1991 Synodical Catechism we read,

(LUTHER'S SMALL CATECHISM WITH EXPLANATION, © 1991 CPH, pp. 214 & 216.) "261. What is the first part of confession?  The first part of confession is that we confess, or acknowledge, our sins.

"265. What is the second part of confession?  The second part of confession is that we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness of sins."

Confession and absolution may be either public or private ... general or specific.  In our divine services we participate in a liturgical confession and absolution that is public and general.  Individuals in whom particular sins or guilt trouble their consciences benefit from private and specific confession and absolution with their pastor.  In both instances, God's forgiveness is assured with spoken words that communicate His mercy and grace.

Then follow the invitation and encouragement to participate in the Lord's Supper.  In, with, and under the consecrated elements of bread and wine God gives us the real body and blood of our crucified and resurrected Savior.  He does so for the certain assurance of forgiveness of sins, salvation, and eternal life.  In addition, the Holy Spirit comforts and consoles us, strengthens our faith in Jesus Christ, and equips and motivates us to march forward in life living according to God's holy Law as a thank offering of praise and gratitude to Him.  God thereby bathes us in the bright shining light of His dear Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.

It all proceeds from and stands solidly upon the magnificent fact that ...

Transition: OUR RESURRECTED SAVIOR IS OUR ATONEMENT-ADVOCATE because He Is the Incarnate Word and He Is the Light of Life.

CONCLUSION: Pastor Marks read in today's 1st Bible Reading,

(Acts 4:10-12) "… Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead … He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone.  And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."

The message and the Person about whom this message speaks are graciously exclusive.  We miserable sinners are among those who crucified Jesus, Whom God raised from the dead for us.  The salvation that we desperately need for eternal life in heaven comes from Him alone … His holy name is the only name with power over our spiritual enemies.  Our resurrected Savior alone is our atonement-Advocate, Who has redeemed, reconciled, and rescued us from eternal separation from God in everlasting damnation to eternal unity with God in everlasting glory.

Pastor Marks also read in today's Gospel Reading,

(Luke 24:36, 45-48) "… [Jesus] Himself stood in their midst and said to them [His disciples], 'Peace be to you.' Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.'"

That very same Jesus declares His peace to you and me and all who by Spirit-given faith cling to Him alone as Savior and Lord.  At the same time, He opens our minds and hearts by the power of that same Holy Spirit to comprehend by faith what the Holy Scriptures reveal to us about Himself, namely, that He suffered and died to pay the penalty that we deserve because of our sins; that He rose from the dead in triumphant victory over sin, death, and the devil to give us forgiveness of sins, salvation, and eternal life; and that He sends us out to proclaim His gracious gospel message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins to all people, starting here in Perryville and extending beyond to all parts of the world.  Our resurrected Savior does so because we are witnesses of all that He, Who is our atonement-Advocate, did … things that we read about with our eyes and hear about with our ears.

God grant it all for the sake of Jesus Christ, His humble Son, our holy Savior.  Amen.

The Lord is risen!  [He is risen, indeed!] Alleluia!

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through our resurrected Savior.  Amen.



This sermon is not copyrighted. It is God's gift to His Church for free and unrestricted use through me who am one of His many faithful servants. Please exercise the common courtesy of properly acknowledging its source should you use part or all of it for any purposes.



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