Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.
A Sermon adapted from one by Rev. Erik Rottmann entitled, "One Lord, One Faith, One Sermon." Bracketed material indicates my words of adaptation. rkh
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.
TEXT: For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor 1:17-18 NKJ)
As blood bought children of God, you must know that there is foolishness, and then there is foolishness.
When it comes to preaching -- that is proclaiming the Gospel of forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation - clowns and clowning around is a foolishness of the world that by the very method turns the message of the cross into a game to cajole and entertain folks into the kingdom of God.
Do you really think that the God who "demonstrate[d] His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners [sent His Son to die] for us (Rom 5:8), then would clown and play around and entertain us into heaven?
Remember, it is the wrath of God from which we are saved. Much more then, having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Rom 5:10). This is no message to be presented with such foolishness.
And yet, it is indeed a message thought to be foolishness in its very essence by a world that is perishing and lost in the darkness of sin. Only a fool would believe in a god who becomes man, sheds his blood, and dies. Why, that would make him less than a god. And it would make man nothing but a murderer and a fool for crucifying the very God who made him.
Well, if the shoe fits . . . ]
Today Jesus begins his public work of preaching the same sermon john the Baptist had earlier preached. "From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Listen to the Words that Jesus said to His disciples at the end of St. Luke's Gospel, just prior to the ascension:
"It is written (1) that the Chrsit should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and (2) that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations." (Luke 24:46-47)
[Does that sound like a message that is to be presented by clowns or anyone or anything that would make the message less or lighter than it is? Though this message makes friends out of enemies, it does not do so in a way that is friendly - especially to those are not repentant and thus remain enemies of God. For "whoever confesses me [Jesus] before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. ut whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. (Matt 10:32-34)
Given these words of our Lord, what do you would think his ministry and His ministers should look like, and how should they act? Clowns? Comedians? Entertainers? Salesmen? I.e. people who dress themselves and their service up to be something than what they are?
No, our Lord clearly tells his ministers what they are to be about, even as He tells you what your ministers and their ministry should be made of.]
There are two parts to these Words [and ministry] of Jesus. The first part [of His ministry, the part that is finished once and for all] is that Jesus Christ "should suffer and on the third day rise again." The ... part [of His ministry that remains in order to deliver what He accomplished on Calvary to all nations today and until the Last Day] ... is that the preaching of the Church must be all about your repentance and your forgiveness of sins. Listen again to that second part: "Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations."
"Repentance ... should be proclaimed." With these Words, your Lord jesus sent His beloved apostles out to continue doing the very same thing Jesus Himself did during the days of His humiliation. As you heard from today's Gospel:
"Now when [Jesus] heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into [the region] of Galilee. From that time, Jesus began to preach, saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"
If Jesus message seems familiar to you, it is because you heard John the Baptist preach it first. Remember the Gospel from the Second Sunday in Advent:
"John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 'Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:1-2).
As you know, the time comes that john can no longer preach, having been arrested by Herod (Matthew 14:3). Once John is arrested, Jesus picks up where John left off, preaching the same message that John had earlier preached. As you heard in today's Gospel: "From that time, Jesus began to preach, saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" Then Jesus dies, rises, and prepares his disciples for His ascension into heaven. Before He departs, Jesus sends His disciples to carry on the preaching that He and John did before them, saying to them, "Repentance and the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His [the Christ's] name to all nations."
Here is the point: From the Old Testament prophets (e.g., Job 36:10. Isaiah 59:20, Ezekiel 18:30-32), to John the Baptist (whom Jesus called "more than a prophet," Matthew 11:9), to Jesus Himself, to His disciples, and further to all pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11) in the Church today, THE CHURCH'S MESSAGE AND PROCLAMATION DOES NOT CHANGE. All preaching remains fundamentally the same. Throughout all ages, one message sounds forth from the pulpits of the one Holy, Christian and apostolic Church, calling people to one Lord and one faith: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Every sermon boils down to these words; if the sermon does not boil down to these words, it is not a sermon.
Why is it so important that you and all God's people throughout time continually hear one and the same sermon form the prophets and preachers of the Church?
1. First, if you look at your life in this world, you might observe that everything around you -and everything inside you - seems to grow continually worse and worse with each passing year. The Church's unchanging message of repentance tells you something different. The Church's unchanging message of repentance tells us that today's sinners are really not a bit different from yesterday's sinners. "There is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). All people of all time equally need this unchanging call to repentance that God's prophets and apostles and pastors proclaim. Yes, our days are evil; but they were also evil days, for example, when Noah lived. In those days, God saw "that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of [man's] heart was only evil continually' (Genesis 6:5).
2. On the other side of the coin, if we are really no worse off than those who lived thousands of years before us, then we are certainly no better off, either. Many people have become deceived by the devil's powerful lie of evolution. With their minds trapped in this deadly teaching of evolution, these people want to think that we humans are able to improve ourselves over time; that we are able to suppress our base motivations and able to live more nobly or more civilly than those who have gone before us. The Church's unchanging message of repentance tells you something different. The Church's unchanging message of repentance tells us that today's sinners are really not a bit different from yesterday's sinners. "There is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). We - just as much as those who have gone before us - we, too, need continually to be called away from the corrupt desires and actions of our own flesh.
In summary, the Church's message of repentance never changes because our need for repentance never changes. All preaching remains fundamentally the same because all humans of all time remain fundamentally the same. For this reason, Jesus continues to preach in the Church through His pastors: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
By means of this one, unchanging sermon for all people of all time, God continually speaks two divine and miraculous gifts to you. The first gift God gives to you through this one sermon is the gift of repentance. That is to say, God's call to repentance gives you the divine gifts of being able to recognize your sin, of being able to develop a hatred and loathing and sorrow for your sin, of being able to turn away from your sins in faith toward God. When God says to you, Repent," He miraculously creates in you the divine gift of repentance. God grants repentance to you (Acts 5:31. 11:18) through the power of His Word.
But this one sermon that God has proclaimed in all the Church throughout all ages does much more than merely create your sorrow over sins. God's miracle of your repentance is accompanied by the miracle of His forgiving and consoling presence with you. Through this one sermon, the "kingdom of heaven is at hand" - that is, the kingdom of heaven comes near to you through the preaching of the Word. Stated another way, the preaching of the Word brings your Lord Jesus Christ to you. [He draws] you - here and now - into "the kingdom of heaven" that he created for you through His death and resurrection.
A lot of people think of "the kingdom of heaven"' as a place to which Christians will go someday in the future. Today's Gospel teaches us to think differently: "the kingdom of heaven" is not someplace we will eventually go; "the kingdom of heaven" is what our God brings to us through the preaching of His Word. because "the kingdom of heaven is at hand," you now have forgiveness of all your sins; because God's kingdom has come to through the power of His Word, yo now have assurance of a blessed resurrection from the dead, and a life that does not end.
"From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." All preaching of every time and every place reduces it ot this one sentence. Through this one sentence, everything that causes your death gets removed from you, having been put to death by Christ Himself. Through this one sentence, forgiveness and life enter into you, so that these divine gifts may dwell within you eternally.
[Yes dear people of God, there is foolishness and then there is foolishness. "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God ... that forgives you all of your sins and delivers you into His forever kingdom - in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
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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