WHAT KIND OF KING IS CHRIST?

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WHAT KIND OF A KING IS CHRIST?

How many times do we hear people criticize God’s conduct of the universe, or call into question the Divine Royalty of Christ? Most common is the criticism, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” I’m sure the critic would have done much better – NOT.

In Pilate’s interrogation of Jesus, He set’s Pilate straight, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” The cause of Christ was not victory over the Romans, or the establishment of some utopia, but our salvation from sin, death, and hell. In His mercy He is a most victorious king!

Sermon for the Last Sunday of Endtime, November 22, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

John 18:33–37 (NKJV)
33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?”
35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”
36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”
Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
Dear fellow redeemed: Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come.” He began His ministry declaring “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”(Mk 1:15) The phrase “kingdom of God” appears in 398 verses in the NKJV New Testament.

We remember the Magi looking for “the king of the Jews,” and we reflect upon the irony of the kingly entrance of Jesus on Palm Sunday, prophetically described by Zechariah, Zechariah 9:9 (NKJV)

9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.

And Jesus speaks clearly about coming into his kingdom and bringing His disciples with Him: Luke 22:29–30 (NKJV) 29 And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, 30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

So Jesus doesn’t shy away from declaring His royalty.

So is He king?  Is He YOUR king? We don’t have much to do with kings do we? That could be a reason why we pass lightly over this kingship of Christ. But we should acknowledge that Christ is king. He is the absolute Lord of heaven, the universe, and all authorities on earth (governments); and He is our defender.  When faced by Jesus clear words, we acknowledge Christ as the king that He is, whether other people honor Him or not.  He says, I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world. Yes…

CHRIST IS KING!

  1. A King for a Cause
  2. A King over Rebels
  3. A Triumphant King
  4. A Heavenly King
  1. A King for a Cause

For this cause He came into the world. What cause is that? What was happening as He spoke to Pilate there? As He had told His disciples, Luke 24:7 (NKJV) ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ” Why? Paul sums it up, Romans 4:25 (NKJV) He was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

As a king’s vocation is to defend his people from their enemies, Jesus went to war against our sin, our death, and the devil Himself. That is the cause for which He came into the world: He offered up Himself as a ransom for sins and exchanged His innocence for our guilt. He bore witness to the eternal truth, including the truth of the Gospel, so that in His name I can declare to you the forgiveness of all your sins.

This is the great cause in which our heavenly king fought for us and delivered to us righteousness, life, and eternal glory.

2.  A King over Rebels

As we taught you last week, Jesus is absolute king of the universe. In His kingdom of power He holds the whole universe together and charts the course of history.

In the kingdom of grace He atones for the sins of the world and in the kingdom of glory every goodness will be fulfilled. But until judgment day when all will bow before Him, he rules humanity by His word. So, while He poured out undeserved love upon the human race, far from being His dutiful subjects, mankind is stubborn and rebellious, not wanting His rule, His judgment, or even His forgiveness.

We live in an age that despises the truth. Instead of weighing an idea in the scales of truth, it is measured on the scales of expedience. It isn’t whether an idea is true or not, but whether it feels good, fulfills prejudices, or advances an agenda. Slogans and sound-bites are constructed to play to the emotions at the expense of truth, and many is the time that 10 seconds of emotion requires hours of thoughtful analysis to unravel.

Think of the hate that is aimed like a weapon at those who express Christian values, and the name-calling focused on those who confess faith in Christ. “How’s your imaginary sky friend,” is the ignorant cant of unbelief.

I could go on with dozens of examples, but the sum of it all is that this world does not honor our king. His word cuts through human emotion and reveals the flaws in fallen human reason. Jesus declared, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

When people reject that truth they can’t figure out their role in life, whether they are men or women, what is right and what is wrong, whether we should live in families or be wards of the state. They become utterly irrational, blinded by vice and desire. Because God’s word is truth it truly prophesied what is happening now. 2 Timothy 3:1–5 (NKJV)  But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

3.   A Triumphant King

But rest assured that Christ is King! He is king beyond our reckoning, so people of our age dismiss Him. They think of what they would do if they were king over all and then look at Jesus did, and they think He must be a failure as king. This seems to be at least part of what Pilate was driving at when faced with the charge that Jesus claimed to be king. “Some king, if His own people arrested Him and turned Him over to be humiliated and punished!” Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?

But Jesus isn’t that kind of king. Rest assured, if He were there would have been no contest. 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

Jesus told Peter Matthew 26:52–54 (NKJV) 52 53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”

And why didn’t Jesus fight? Because Jesus wasn’t here to defeat Romans (or Turks or Russians or even ISIS or the corrupt powers of the day).  He came destroy the power of sin and death. 1 Corinthians 15:20–26 (NKJV) 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.

4.   A Heavenly and Righteous King

Christ is King! He is a heavenly and righteous king. Therefore, His righteousness extends to all: For this cause He came into the world By that I don’t mean that he is some otherworldly irrelevant king.  For we are here today because His kingdom came into this world, and He as king answers our prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come.”

Think what it means to be part of this kingdom, brought about because he came into the world to bring salvation. We are subjects of His kingdom together. By grace, our hope of Heaven and His eternal love is NOT on our getting everything right in life. Some days we are better at it than others, but we always fall short. Our hope is in HIS success as the Lord Our Righteousness.

In the same way, our Christian love for one another doesn’t hinge on our getting everything right. We accept one another by grace. We are dear brothers and sisters together because we are subjects of the king who gives us His righteousness. His righteousness is our through repentant faith.

So,

CHRIST IS KING!

  1. A King for a Cause
  2. A King over Rebels
  3. A Triumphant King
  4. A Heavenly and Eternal King

AMEN.

By |2020-11-22T18:25:25-07:00November 22nd, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

FAMILY THANKSGIVING AT HOME

A Family Thanksgiving

Devotion for Thanksgiving at Home

With everything so disrupted by the COVID restrictions, many churches are not having a Thanksgiving service, and many people are staying at home.

Download the devotion at the link below, print off a few copies and “Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is Good, and His mercy endures forever.”

Download Thanksgiving at Home

A Family Thanksgiving

The purpose of a Christian thanksgiving is not just to identify what we are thankful FOR, but TO WHOM we give thanks. This Thanksgiving Devotion is provided so that we may offer up thanks to the One who has made us, blessed us with life, called us to faith in Christ, and promised us the treasures of eternal life.

You may begin with a hymn if you wish, and as you wish. You may sing it, or perhaps the host will read the verses, and everyone chime in on the last line.

Americans aren’t the first to think up the idea of a thanksgiving celebration, of course. Giving thanks has always been a big part of worship. In fact, we can go back almost 3000 years to the prophet David and this well-known Psalm, #145.  After reading the psalm you may close with a prayer.

Psalm 145
PRAISING GOD’S GREATNESS
A hymn of David.

 
I exalt you, my God the King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
I will bless you every day;
I will praise your name forever and ever.
The Lord is great and is highly praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation will declare your works to the next
and will proclaim your mighty acts.
I will speak of your splendor and glorious majesty
and your wondrous works.
They will proclaim the power of your awe-inspiring acts,
and I will declare your greatness.,
They will give a testimony of your great goodness
and will joyfully sing of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and great in faithful love.
The Lord is good to everyone;
his compassion rests on all he has made.
10 All you have made will thank you, Lord;
the faithful will bless you.
11 They will speak of the glory of your kingdom
and will declare your might,
12 informing all people of your mighty acts
and of the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom;
your rule is for all generations.
The Lord is faithful in all his words
and gracious in all his actions.,
14 The Lord helps all who fall;
he raises up all who are oppressed.,
15 All eyes look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all his acts.
18 The Lord is near all who call out to him,
all who call out to him with integrity.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry for help and saves them.
20 The Lord guards all those who love him,
but he destroys all the wicked.
21 My mouth will declare the Lord’s praise;
let every living thing
bless his holy name forever and ever.

PRAYER:

Gracious Father in heaven, we give thanks to you for all the mercies you have given to us, for life and health and strength and for the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus, our Savior. We praise you for your goodness and generosity to us. We remember the good things in life that come from you, such as family, friends, love, joy, peace, and also the good things to each. Fill our hearts by your holy word with the constant assurance of your goodness, so that ours will be grateful hearts, grateful to you, the true and living God, now and forever.  AMEN.

By |2020-11-21T12:34:21-07:00November 21st, 2020|Good News|0 Comments

You don’t have time to GET ready, so BE ready!

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You don’t have time to GET ready, so BE ready!

Jesus compares the wise and the foolish. The wise have some foresight. The wise pilot makes sure she has sufficient fuel before taking off. The wise car buyer makes sure he can make the payments. A foolish youth drops out with no education or training. The foolish hiker heads out into the wilderness without map, compass, (or GPS).

It is the wise who are ready for Christ’s return. The foolish may know He is coming but lack what is necessary. The wise know the need for truth, for righteousness, for faith, and all the other gifts God gives through His word, and they do not forsake it.

Sermon for the Third Sunday of Endtime, November 15, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Matthew 25:1–13 (CSB)

      25 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they didn’t take oil with them; but the wise ones took oil in their flasks with their lamps. When the groom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
      6 “In the middle of the night there was a shout: ‘Here’s the groom! Come out to meet him.’
      7 “Then all the virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’
      9 “The wise ones answered, ‘No, there won’t be enough for us and for you. Go instead to those who sell oil, and buy some for yourselves.’
      10 “When they had gone to buy some, the groom arrived, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet, and the door was shut. 11 Later the rest of the virgins also came and said, ‘Master, master, open up for us!’
      12 “He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you!’
      13 “Therefore be alert, because you don’t know either the day or the hour.

Dear fellow redeemed: How much do you know for sure about first century Jewish weddings? Me neither. We sometimes work backwards from Jesus’ parables to make conclusions, but we don’t know for sure. But that’s OK, because we don’t need to know to understand Jesus’ point.  He is returning; it may be a while; it will be sudden, you cannot get ready then so you must be ready; and whatever it takes to be ready, you better have enough. That is what it means to

WISELY AWAIT  OUR LORD’S RETURN

  1. The Reign of Heaven
  2. The Shout
  3. The Oil of Readiness
  1. The Reign of Heaven

Jesus begins with a common expression, as Matthew terms it, “The kingdom of heaven is like…” The kingdom He’s talking about isn’t geographical; it refers to “the royal deeds of God in Jesus, beginning in his earthly ministry, then in the intervening years as his disciples wait, and finally in the fullness of his reign at the unknown day of his Parousia.”[1] This parable tells us what it will be like when the reign of God comes to its fullness in Jesus’ return and the resurrection, and especially in the resurrection and eternal bliss of the righteous.

Do with think enough about the reign of heaven, either now or at the last day? We should. While it isn’t something we can see, we do live under His reign, and that is something that we should think about in view of the affairs of men.

Remember, He reigns as Lord of the Universe. The earth orbits the sun and the moon the earth because He has so decreed. As the Bible says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15–17, CSB)

Notice that includes also the spirits, the angels and the demons, and also the powers of the earth. Including those who seek power in our country.

He also reigns through His word, proclaimed by His church, and all salvation is accomplished through Him. “He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:18–20, CSB)

I say to the guiltiest sinner, “You have peace with God,” and it is so because our Lord says so. I say to powers of the earth, complicit in the sins of the age, such as gross deceit, the destruction of marriage, the worship of nature, the killing of the unborn, and so on “Repent our perish,” and it is so because God says it is so. He says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19–21, ESV)

If we acknowledge the reign of God, and we look forward to our resurrection to its fullness, then we acknowledge Christ as Lord, and are at odds with the culture of an unbelieving age. Are you? What if you were a college student, government employee, military officer, nurse, doctor, or someone else required to take “sensitivity training,” which is coercive re-education, because you expressed value for an intact family, or the natural role of men and women. Would you say what you are told so say, something like “men can have babies too,” to keep your job? Would you say that the material world is all there is, and mankind can achieve paradise on earth?

We know there are re-education camps in Communist China, but don’t think the ungodly philosophy, false religion, and unbelief are only over there, or the coercion to deny what is true.

But Christ is Lord, so we look forward to His establishing His reign in all its fullness. Or do you? Are you ready?

2.  The Shout

You won’t have time to get ready when He comes. [Slap the pulpit and shout, “He’s here!”] You have to BE ready. Back to Christ’s parable: “In the middle of the night there was a shout: ‘Here’s the groom! Come out to meet him.’

“Then all the virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’

Some were ready and some were not, and there was no time to get ready, for as Scripture says, the end will come “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52, CSB)

3.  The Oil of Readiness

In Jesus’ parable there are ten virgins to greet the bridegroom, five wise and five foolish. ALL were expecting Him, so Jesus is here talking about people who are in the church, had been in the church, or otherwise at one time knew and believed that our Lord will come. It may be a long delay, but He will come.

Some didn’t have enough oil. What does this picture? Some pare this down very minutely, saying that the lamp is one thing, the flame another and the oil another. Could be. But we could also just call this the “oil of readiness.” It is whatever we need to be ready when the Lord returns.

It is righteousness of course, the righteousness that comes from God, was accomplished by Christ, and is ours by faith.

But some lose that faith because they are mired in sins of the flesh, so they lack repentance.

Some are tied up in the worries, riches, and pleasures of life, so that they forsake the word, and lack the nourishing gospel of the Spirit.

Some are deceived by the lies of Satan and the world, so they lack the truth.

Some grow tired of the conflict, so they lack perseverance.

Some fall in love with the world, so they lack faithfulness.

But whatever they may lack, whatever oil of readiness they were short of, it was because of their foolishness. To be foolish is to act contrary to what you know is reasonable, right, or true, especially lacking foresight.

If your gas gauge is on “E” and you set out across the boondocks anyway, that’s foolish. If you build a fire in your living room (its been done) that’s foolish. If you don’t finish high school, and still hope to make it in life, that’s foolish. If you know your blood pressure will give you a stroke, but don’t take your medicine, that’s foolish.

Now you know you are tempted in this world to treasure sins and not repent, like gossip, resentment, anger, etc., so listen to the gospel, which is the power of our reigning Lord.

You know there is deceit all over, so continue in the word of Christ, that you may know the truth.

You know that the Devil is the accuser, so listen to the comforting words of Christ’s absolution.

You know that your hope is in Christ alone, so put away pride and heed the rebuke of the Lord, so that your hope is only in Him.

You won’t have time to get ready, so be ready. Be ever faithful in receiving the life-giving means of grace, the gospel in word and sacrament. For there is our Lord’s gift of righteousness, forgiveness, life, and salvation.

AMEN

[1] Gibbs, Jeffrey A., Concordia Commentary, A Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture, Matthew 21:1-28:20, p. 1318, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. 2018

By |2020-11-15T17:23:00-07:00November 15th, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

What Shows Who We Are on Judgment Day?

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WHAT SHOWS WHO WE ARE ON JUDGMENT DAY?

You probably remember the picture of the Final Judgment as Jesus related it. All nations will be separated “as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” The separation is between the righteous and the unrighteous. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34, ESV) ““Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41, ESV)

What is the difference between them? Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” As we read Matthew in its entirety, we see that “these brothers” refers to those who represent Christ by teaching and preaching His word.

So that is what shows who we are, the way we Christ in those who bring us His word.

Sermon for the Second Sunday of Endtime, November 8, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Matthew 25:31–46 (EHV)
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 36 I was lacking clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or lacking clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “The King will answer them, ‘Amen I tell you: Just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire, which is prepared for the Devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you did not give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you did not give me anything to drink. 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, lacking clothes and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not take care of me.’

44 “Then they will also answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or lacking clothes or sick or in prison and did not serve you?’

45 “At that time he will answer them, ‘Amen I tell you: Just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ 46 And they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Dear fellow redeemed: This is one of Jesus’ sermons that is most quoted, usually in support of a so-called “social gospel” theology, that Jesus’ teaching was centered on helping the poor in order to get to heaven, or to bring heaven on earth.

In reaction to such “works righteousness” we often interpret these verses according to the scriptural teaching that in Christ, all that we do in faith is counted as righteousness, while nothing that an unbeliever does is done out of love for God is therefore intrinsically sinful.

The works-righteousness understanding is, of course, false, but the reaction to it is just that, a reaction, and therefore doesn’t lead to a thorough understanding of the text, so let’s start from the beginning to see

WHAT REALLY MATTERS ON JUDGMENT DAY

  1. Take Care of Jesus’ Brothers
  2. What Happens on Judgment Day
  3. Our Lesson for Today
  1. Take Care of Jesus’ Brothers

This is the last part of Jesus’ discourse on the consummation of the age, which began in chapter 24 of St. Matthew. As such, it tells us on what basis people will enter the kingdom. It has to do with the way we treat Jesus’ brothers. 40 “The King will answer them, ‘Amen I tell you: Just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.’ Entering the kingdom in the resurrection depends upon how we treat the brothers of Jesus.

So who are the brothers of Jesus? If we look through the gospel of Matthew, we see that He always uses this term ADELPHOS, brother, in reference to His disciples, as, for example, in 12:49-50 “Stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”” (Matthew 12:49–50, CSB)

So people are separated into the righteous and the unrighteous according to the way they treat the followers of Christ.

We also see this in Jesus’ Mission Discourse in Chapter 10. First He sends out the twelve without a bag, extra shirt, or food, depending on those who hear the gospel to take care of them. He sums up, “The one who welcomes you welcomes me, and the one who welcomes me welcomes him who sent me. Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. And anyone who welcomes a righteous person because he’s righteous will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:40–42, CSB)

2. What Happens on Judgment Day

With this in mind, we can look again at the lesson.

On the last day, Christ will return, as we confess, to judge the living and the dead. The dead will rise, and all nations will stand before Him. He will come in glory with all His angels and be enthroned before those who are living and those who have been raised from the dead. All nations will be divided into the righteous and the unrighteous. To those on His right He will say, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

He says why. It has to do with they way they treated those who teach the word. ‘Amen I tell you: Just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.’ So, those who welcomed the pastors, teachers, prophets, Sunday school teachers, evangelists, and so on are those who rise unto eternal life, for they live and act in faith.

But those who despised Christ’s brothers, the ministers of reconciliation, stand cursed, for they live and act in unbelief, 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire, which is prepared for the Devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you did not give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you did not give me anything to drink. 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, lacking clothes and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not take care of me.’

It is interesting that Jesus doesn’t say that their fate hinges not only on attentiveness to their teaching, but on the way they were treated. But this is consistent with the way Jesus elsewhere characterizes the experience of preachers: Greet a household when you enter it, and if the household is worthy, let your peace be on it; but if it is unworthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone does not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. (Matthew 10:12–15, CSB)

3. Our Lesson for Today

As you can see, there is much for us to learn.

First, live in anticipation of the resurrection. For the Christian, the sentiment “Rest in Peace” is an unfinished story. The story with the climax and the happy ending is “Rest in peace and rise in glory!” Don’t buy into the sort of spiritualized afterlife picture of mythology, that everyone goes “up there, somewhere” in a sort of pleasant nirvana. Christ the King rose body and soul from the grave, and so shall we, in glorious, robust, physical reality. Wait until you see this body the way it was meant to be, glorious and immortal.

Second, this glorious resurrection, as opposed to infinite darkness and the eternal fire is dependent upon how we treat Christ as He comes to us through those who proclaim Him. It’s interesting how he puts it in physical as well as spiritual terms. Believers don’t just listen to their pastors, and those who stand in Christ’s place, but as Paul writes, Let the one who is taught the word share all his good things with the teacher. (Galatians 6:6, CSB)

Conversely, unbelief shows in disrespect, neglect, and general oppression of those who speak the word of Christ. Those in our age who make it so pastors have to be bi-vocational, that is have another job, or where it takes two congregations to support a full-time pastor are communities of unbelief who will rise on the day of judgment, be sent to the left by the King, and commended to perdition.

And third, there is all the world between those who listen to the word of Christ as He comes to us proclaimed, sung, and taught and those who listen to what they want to hear, what they feel, and what they desire.

And what is the message that is heard or rejected? It is this: You are righteous by the righteousness Christ lived, you are forgiven by the atonement Christ made, and you are His because He purchased you by His own blood. Never stop listening, cherishing, this precious Gospel.

AMEN

By |2020-11-08T15:49:29-07:00November 7th, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

BELIEVERS ARE OUT OF THIS WORLD

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BELIEVERS ARE OUT OF THIS WORLD

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” This is Jesus’ prayer for all believers of all time. To “sanctify” is to set aside for God’s purposes. Christians are so “set aside” that Jesus says, “The world hated them because they are not of the world.”

So it is that the hope of believers is not in this world, that the next election or the next job opportunity or the next lottery ticket is going to give us joy. The love of believers for others is not conditioned on “what have they done for me,” but on the worth and value that Christ places on every person. The joy of believers is not found in one day’s experience, but in the transcendent beauty, comfort, virtue, wonder, and delight of eternity.

It is the truth of God’s word that brings us out of the petty ambitions of the moment into the eternal joys that are out of this world.

Sermon for the Reformation Sunday, November 1, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

By |2020-11-01T18:20:28-07:00November 1st, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

NEVER REPENT OF CHRIST AND THE GOSPEL

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NEVER REPENT OF CHRIST AND THE GOSPEL

The Parable of the Wedding Feast is a prophetic condemnation of the Jews who knew of the Messiah from the Scriptures, but rejected the Messiah in unbelief when He came. But the infinite mercy of God reached out into the world with the invitation the Messianic Feast – Faith and Salvation in the Christ. But these others in the world sometimes now repent of Christ in indifference and disdain for His salvation. They suffer the calamity of all unbelievers

But we cannot talk about those rejecting the mercy of God without being overwhelmed by that self-same mercy, the invitation to an eternal fest with our Creator! “Behold what manner of love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! … ” (1 John 3:1a)

YOU are invited, too!

Sermon for the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, October 25, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

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Matthew 22:1–14 (CSB)

22 Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to summon those invited to the banquet, but they didn’t want to come. Again, he sent out other servants and said, ‘Tell those who are invited: See, I’ve prepared my dinner; my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

“But they paid no attention and went away, one to his own farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged, and he sent out his troops, killed those murderers, and burned down their city.

“Then he told his servants, ‘The banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go then to where the roads exit the city and invite everyone you find to the banquet.’ 10 So those servants went out on the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding banquet was filled with guests. 11 When the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed for a wedding. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Dear fellow redeemed: I hope you are familiar with the essential preaching of John the Baptist, of Christ, and of the church through the ages: Repent and believe the gospel. Our text is a bit different, you might say it is…

BELIEVE THE GOSPEL AND NEVER REPENT OF IT

  1. The Gospel Is a Monumental Gift
  2. Indifference and Rejection Bring Judgment
  3. Never Repent of the Wedding Banquet
  1. The Gospel Is a Monumental Gift

As you remember, Matthew present much of the teaching of Christ, with a special emphasis on His word to the Jews. Today’s text is the third in s series of Christ’s parables to the leaders of the people warning them about their rejection of the Christ.

This parable is about the “kingdom of heaven” that is being established in the days  of Christ. It speaks of “a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.” This is a fulfillment of the Old Testament  theme of God as Israel’s Husband and Israel as Yahweh’s bride. This occurs at the great messianic feast[1] when Messiah comes, and God Himself visits His people. Through the apostles and other disciples, and by Christ Himself, He sent his servants to summon those invited to the banquet, but they didn’t want to come.

This invitation is the call to repentance and faith, and it is given to those who knew already of the wedding feast, the Jews and those who had the Scriptures. He sent his servants to summon those [already] invited to the banquet. Those who had been invited were implored to come. Again, he sent out other servants and said, ‘Tell those who are invited: See, I’ve prepared my dinner; my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

“But they paid no attention and went away, one to his own farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.

The announcement that everything was ready was received with disdain, disrespect, indifference, and finally violence. Jesus would address this situation more literally before long: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’!”

“As Jesus left and was going out of the temple, his disciples came up and called his attention to its buildings. He replied to them, “Do you see all these things? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here on another that will not be thrown down.” (Matthew 23:37–24:2, CSB)

2.  Indifference and Rejection Bring Judgment

This judgment is prefigured in this parable. The king was enraged, and he sent out his troops, killed those murderers, and burned down their city. Does that seem like a bit of an overreaction to you? Don’t judge Jesus and His words; learn from them. This wedding feast was planned before the dawn of time. All of human history flows toward it. The King’s Son is no less than God incarnate, come to atone for the sins of all.

Do you see how terrible a thing it is to despise, to be indifferent to, the gift of the gospel? This is the good news that your sins are forgiven, death has been defeated, all because this Christ was righteous for you and laid down His life for your sins. The wedding feast of the King’s son is ongoing from His resurrection on into eternity, and you are invited, as it is written in the Revelation of St. John, Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying, Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty, reigns! Let us be glad, rejoice, and give him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has prepared herself. She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure. For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: Blessed are those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb!” He also said to me, “These words of God are true.” (Revelation 19:6–9, CSB)

We partake of this feast now in part and it is completed in the resurrection. But even now we celebrate as we often sing during Holy Communion, “At the Lamb’s high feast we sing Praise to our victorious King, Who has washed us in the tide Flowing from His pierced side.”

These leaders and teachers of the Jews knew of the Messiah, but rejected Him. To be indifferent to such a gift is an offense to the King of kings, and His judgment falls upon them.

But the mercy of God is infinite, and because Christ ahs atoned for the sins of all, anyone and everyone is invited.“Then he told his servants, ‘The banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go then to where the roads exit the city and invite everyone you find to the banquet.’ 10 So those servants went out on the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding banquet was filled with guests.

This is the church in the new testament age. Those who had not yet received the invitation, did not yet know of the hope of the Messiah, are invited, and by the millions they come. This is you and me.

3.  Never Repent of the Wedding Banquet

In a sense, we are like the Jews, in that we have been invited, but we have also entered into the Messianic Feast. We are in the church and receive the gift of God. Do you think there is a danger that, like the people who had already been invited, but showed indifference and disrespect, that some who are in the church may show indifference and disrespect.

That is what happens in the parable. The wedding banquet was filled with guests. 11 When the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed for a wedding. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

The lack of wedding clothes in this parable is a mark of disrespect. It is parallel to the indifference and disdain of the first group of invitees. Even in our low-brow society, I would hope there are some occasions for which we would dress up out of respect, like funerals, state occasions – weddings.

But to be part of the Messianic feast, part of the church, to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, to be under the care of the Good Shepherd and His under-shepherds and then to become indifferent and negligent and unappreciative of what we have is a profound insult. To “repent” is to turn around and go the other way. Some repent of their sin and turn to Christ; some “repent” and turn away.

Scripture warns of this. Jesus did in the parable of the sower, fi you recall. Hebrews warns against thinking you don’t need to listen to your pastors, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17, CSB)

In fact, Hebrews is pretty direct about this; for such indifference “…  there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26–27, CSB)

Now, we could wrap up with that image of the man falling forever in outer darkness, and that is a warning, after all. But the message for you is the invitation itself, and image repeated over and over throughout Scripture. God has come to join Himself with His church forever, in an everlasting feast, and YOU are invited.

AMEN

[1] Gibbs, Jeffrey A.: Concordia Commentary, Matthew 21:1-28:20, CPH, St. Louis. 2018 p. 1106.

By |2020-10-25T17:22:38-07:00October 25th, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

DO YOU EVEN KNOW YOU NEED IT?

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THE GREATEST GIFT MOST DON’T EVEN KNOW THEY NEED

Did you see the protestor sign on the news recently? – I Demand Forgiveness and I Want It NOW!!!!

Neither did I.

That’s because all the clamoring demands have nothing to do with the root cause of our problems – plain old sin.
So what does a paralyzed man need? You would think it would be healing. Yes, but Jesus doesn’t go for halfway measures; He doesn’t just fix him up for a while. He goes all the way. He says, “Have courage, son, your sins are forgiven.”

Here is why that’s a better gift – – – Sermon for the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity, October 18, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Matthew 9:1–8 (CSB)

9 So he got into a boat, crossed over, and came to his own town. Just then some men brought to him a par­alytic lying on a stretcher. Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, “Have courage, son, your sins are for­given.”

At this, some of the scribes said to themselves, “He’s blaspheming!”

Perceiving their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why are you thinking evil things in your hearts? For which is eas­ier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—then he told the paralytic, “Get up, take your stretcher, and go home.” So he got up and went home. When the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and gave glory to God, who had given such authority to men.

Dear fellow redeemed: There are lots of demands be­ing made these days. Questions to politicians, demands from demonstrators (and rioters). I don’t think there is a news pro­gram without someone waving a sign at the camera.

All of these hopes, these demands, some trivial, some not, have been in the news.  We want this, we want that, we demand this, we demand that.  But I have yet to hear of any­one walking around, carrying a poster saying, “I want the for­giveness of sins.”

It was the same in Jesus’ day.  It was actually shocking for His first words to this man to be, “Have courage, Son, your sins are forgiven.” You see, forgiveness of sins is

THE GREATEST GIFT YOU DON’T KNOW YOU NEED

  1. Sin Is Our Problem in This World
  2. Forgiveness Is the Solution
  3. It is Freely Given
  1. Sin Is Our Problem in This World

Listen, THE problem in this world is sin. I’m not just be­ing a mossy old moralist. Scripture teaches it.

First, sin is the problem directly. I think of the hard times in which I have comforted people.

People crushed by gossipy, self-righteous, disapprov­ing busy-bodies.

The agony of alienation when a spouse is unfaithful.

The betrayal and enslavement of pornography.

The physical and emotional scars of anger.

The lives wrecked through drunkenness or drug use.

Parents watching their kids ruining their futures by lazi­ness in school.

Children broken by their parent’s breaking their mar­riage vows.

The way people blame others for their own wrongdo­ing. Blame and then hate.

Every commandment broken hurts someone, including ourselves. Sin has direct consequences.

But second, sin is the problem indirectly. Much trouble in life isn’t a consequence of some sin of ours, but because of our sinfulness. Why is there death in the world, sickness, age, suffering, famine, infirmity, hunger, and the like? Because of sin generally. Jesus says in Luke 13 that whenever we see tragedy or injury, we should repent of our own sins.

And there is also judgment at times, as Paul says, “And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a corrupt mind so that they do what is not right. They are filled with all unright­eousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gos­sips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, un­trustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Although they know God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die—they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.(Romans 1:28–32, CSB) Do you think our age will escape the judgment of God for our kill­ing of the unborn, the perversion of marriage, or the blas­phemy against the true and living God?

And death is in the world because of sin. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.(Romans 5:12, CSB)

2. Forgiveness Is the Solution

So, if sin is the problem, then the solution is our salvation from sin. That means that Christ, is not just our salvation from this moral abstraction, sin, but from all of the trouble that is in our lives, as Paul writes, “If by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who re­ceive the over­flow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.(Romans 5:17, CSB)

This is why Jesus did not come working “signs in the heavens” as the Jews demanded, but He began the unravelling of sorrow that sin brought into the world, the unravelling that will be complete in the resurrection. Only the One who conquers sin, the devil, and evil itself, only the One who can “undo our guilt” so to speak, can undo the curse of sin in the world.

Here Jesus looks upon the paralyzed man. Maybe he had suffered a stroke, maybe a spinal injury, maybe he was born with problems. It doesn’t matter. Mark and Luke tell us that he was lowered to Jesus down through the roof, but Matthew wants us to focus on the essentials. What the man most needed was forgiveness, for with forgiveness comes righteousness, and with righteousness comes salvation, and with salvation comes the resurrection unto eternal life.

This is what we need, for as Jesus said, “Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of condemnation.(John 5:28–29, CSB) In giving this man forgiveness and righteousness, Jesus was giving him eventual salvation from this world and all its troubles.

3.   It is Freely Given

And He has given it to you as well. You have to wait because He is allowing this sin-cursed world to stand so that the sinners in it may yet be saved. You and I can only enjoy the perfection of the righteous in the resurrection. But in giving you the gift of forgiveness, the cure of all your troubles is promised by Christ’s words, and received by faith.

Matthew does an intriguing little thing in our text, as the Holy Spirit inspired him. He knows that we have problems believing these things. It is easy for us to focus on what is wrong in our lives rather than on the joy that is promised and is coming to us in the resurrection.

Here Mathew contrasts the faith of the paralytic and his friends with the unbelief of the scribes. These friends bring the paralytic and Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, “Have courage, son, your sins are for­given.”

The Scribes thought He was blaspheming God, by pretending to do what only God can do. [Seeing] their [evil] thoughts, Jesus said, “Why are you thinking evil things in your hearts?

Seeing that they had faith in Him – saving faith in Him as the Messiah – Jesus gave the man what we all most need. Actually, He said, “Your sins are being forgiven.” The Greek tense tells us that this wasn’t a transaction, but an ongoing thing because of their faith.

But the Jews did not believe in Him as the Messiah.

Because forgiveness, life, and salvation our ours by faith, unbelief is the rejection of this gift. So for the Jews and for us in out struggles and doubts, Jesus didn’t create a sign in the sky, make lightning strike or the moon turn to blood (that’s coming). He did in this instance what He will do for all of us in the resurrection. He gave the man the gift of perfect and complete healing.

In doing so He doesn’t ask “What is harder to DO,” but “What is harder to SAY.” The gift of forgiveness comes by faith, so He could say what He wants and who will know if it is true. But the gift of healing is testable, visible, indisputable. So He went put it this way:, For which is eas­ier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—then he told the paralytic, “Get up, take your stretcher, and go home.” So he got up and went home. When the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and gave glory to God, who had given such authority to men.

Do you know now what becomes yours with the words, “I forgive you all your sins?” The forgiveness of sins, for sure, because those are the words, not of man, but of God, for Christ declared, “…, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” After saying this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”(John 20:21–23, CSB)

But that is not all, for you receive also life and salvation, because just as death came by Adam and his sin, life and salvation come by Christ and His righteousness. So understand that whenever you hear the gospel promises, or consider your baptism, or partake of Holy Communion, you receive not only forgiveness and righteousness, but the life, health, strength, and eternal joy that is in store for the righteous, the justified, the saints.

So, take courage, dear one, your sins are forgiven, therefore also the resurrection unto eternal life.

AMEN: This is most certainly true.

By |2020-10-18T18:31:54-07:00October 18th, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

CAN YOU MAKE PEOPLE BE GOOD?

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CAN YOU MAKE PEOPLE BE GOOD?

How powerful is a law? Some think that laws are so powerful they can make people be good. I even watched a legislative session (in Illinois) in which the State Representative insisted that just by passing a law against a certain behavior, people would stop doing it. They didn’t.

In today’s sermon text, an expert in the Torah, the books of Moses, tested Jesus as to what law was the greatest. The implication was that by knowing this law a person could keep it and make up for other failings and become righteous. Jesus responded by pointing to the overarching law of love: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

Though this surely is the greatest command, it is not a path to righteousness for us, for the law has no power to make us good.

Christ is our righteousness!

Sermon for the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, October 11, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Matthew 22:34–46 (CSB)

34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test him: 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”

37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind., 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself., 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

41 While the Pharisees were together, Jesus questioned them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

They replied, “David’s.”

43 He asked them, “How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’:

44 The Lord declared to my Lord,

‘Sit at my right hand

until I put your enemies under your feet’?,,

45 “If David calls him ‘Lord,’ how, then, can he be his son?” 46 No one was able to answer him at all, and from that day no one dared to question him anymore.

Dear fellow redeemed: Matthew was one of the original apostles, as well as the writer of this Gospel. He was Jewish and wrote especially for a Jewish audience, people who had been brought up in the synagogue and knew about the Messiah, the Christ, which are (respectively) the Hebrew and Greek terms for The Anointed One.

He records much of the teaching of Jesus, as in this section of the book that both shows Jesus to be the Divine Messiah and includes what He reveals to us of God.

The Jews are opposed to Him because of their unbelief– their unbelief regarding salvation and their unbelief regarding the Messiah. Jesus had just confounded the Sadducees and their disbelief in the resurrection, and here He proclaims two truths that confound the Pharisees, the first being the law of God, and the second being the nature of the Messiah, our Savior. These are …

TWO TRUTHS ON WHICH SALVATION DEPENDS

  1. The RIGHTEOUSNESS of God
  2. The Righteousness of GOD

 

  1. The RIGHTEOUSNESS of God

You need to know some background about the question that the expert in the law brings to Jesus,  “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” Now, you probably think of “law” as “ten commandments.” But to the Pharisees, “Law” meant the “Torah,” the five books of Moses, and the “command in the law” meant the rules ranging from circumcision to observance of the Sabbath, to dietary laws, to laws pertaining to the temple, and to sacrifices. Implicit in the question is the idea that one who could keep the greatest laws might make up for transgressions against the lesser laws, and so be righteous.

Jesus’ reply was quick and specific: 37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind., 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself., 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

This is the heart and core of Gods will, love. Love God and love your neighbor. Nothing makes up for this. If you do not love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and truly love your neighbor, desiring for him/her what you desire for yourself, then no keeping of any other part of the law can make up for it: No “good works,” no special efforts, no sacrifices.

The Lord’s Prophets had dealt with this thinking in the past. The Prophet Hosea went all the way back to the disobedience of Adam to make the point. For I desire faithful love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. But they, like Adam, have violated the covenant; there they have betrayed me. (Hosea 6:6–7, CSB) Isaiah  begins his book with a whole section on it. Some excerpts: “What are all your sacrifices to me?” asks the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings and rams and the fat of well-fed cattle; I have no desire for the blood of bulls, lambs, or male goats…. “Wash yourselves. Cleanse yourselves. Remove your evil deeds from my sight. Stop doing evil. Learn to do what is good. Pursue justice. Correct the oppressor. Defend the rights of the fatherless. Plead the widow’s cause.” (from Isaiah 1:10-20, CSB)

Hope lies only in the mercy of God, as David expressed in His song of confession, For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:16–17, NKJV) So also Isaiah expressed the mercy of God, again in chapter 1, . “Come, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are crimson red, they will be like wool.

Yet it is part of our sinful human nature to think that by the law we can become righteous. God’s Law is good because its threats can curb and punish wrong, it can show us our sin, and for those who repent and want to do the right thing, it can be a guide.

But it has no power. You can’t make people want to do good just by telling them. Youngsters the world over have been told to keep their room neat and clean; how has that worked? “Don’t drink and drive. It’s the Law.” Has everyone who has been told that, do that? Of course not.

Righteousness cannot be by the law. “Is the law therefore contrary to God’s promises? Absolutely not! For if the law had been granted with the ability to give life, then righteousness would certainly be on the basis of the law. (Galatians 3:21, CSB)

It is also part of our sinful nature to think that we can create goodness in the world by passing laws. This is a modern form of idolatry. Putting our fear, trust, and even love into government or political heroes rather than fearing God above all.  The best “experts” in the world cannot instill honesty, industry, selflessness, moderation, self-control, and the other virtues in people by their clever laws.

That is not the path to righteousness in the heart or perfection in societies.

2. The Righteousness of GOD

Where, then, is our hope?

Jesus takes the Pharisees away from their consideration of how THEY could find the “greatest command” in the law that would enable them to secure righteousness. As we read Matthew, the shift seems abrupt, and so it might have seemed to the Pharisees, who were still there. 41 While the Pharisees were together, Jesus questioned them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

They replied, “David’s.”

That was a question seemingly any Jewish child could answer. The long-expected king would be descended from David, the greatest king. There was a lot of speculation about what this king and kingdom would be like. As in our own day, people brought up their own ideas. (MY Jesus is …)

But Jesus brought them back to Scripture, 43 He asked them, “How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’:

44 The Lord declared to my Lord,

‘Sit at my right hand

until I put your enemies under your feet’?,,

45 “If David calls him ‘Lord,’ how, then, can he be his son?”

This wasn’t idle speculation, it was the INSPIRED word of David, the king and prophet. It was axiomatic that descendants would respect their forebears. But how is this that David calls his own descendant “Lord”? And more, this descendant would sit at the right hand of God and rule over his enemies.

You know why this is, for the one descended of David through Mary is at the same time the only-begotten Son of God. While we must have the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God, if we are to have fellowship with God, it must become ours because of the righteousness of GOD, that is, the righteousness of this Christ, this Messiah. “He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21, CSB) Written over centuries by dozens of inspired prophets, the Scriptures teach this same thing. As Jeremiah put it, speaking of this Christ: “In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. This is the name he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23:6, CSB)

And He has come to you, as you have come to know Christ, the most wonderful thing of all, as Paul writes, “But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. (Philippians 3:7–9, CSB)

Love God; love your neighbor. It is the perfect and holy command of our Lord and God. But it is something we cannot do. So there was one anointed, chosen to atone for our sins and to bring the righteousness of God into this world. No wonder David called Him “Lord.” And so too shall we.

AMEN.

By |2020-10-11T18:47:52-07:00October 11th, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

Real Life Is More

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REAL LIFE IS MORE

In our area the wildfires have take everything from some people. In view of that, how can Jesus say, “Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear”? Not worry!!?? And He goes on, “Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear.

To understand this, we need to realize that He is talking about REAL LIFE. To those who do not know Christ, the horizon of life is their own death, and all joy and happiness depends upon what happens up to that moment. To those who know Christ, however, there is no horizon to the Real Life that He brings, and like Paul, we say that we consider everything rubbish compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord.

It’s a matter of perspective.

Sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity, September 20, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Matthew 6:24–34 (CSB)

24 “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

25 “Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add one moment to his life span by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Dear fellow redeemed: This is an interesting text to cover today. As we sit here, there are thousands of evacuees from Phoenix and Talent and Ashland who have lost everything. Some have nothing left but the bathrobe they ran away with. So how can we tell them “don’t worry! Trust in Jesus?”

Right here, we have to change our perspective. If the perspective is, “This is all there is, and I have lost everything. How can God allow this!” Then you will never understand.

The true perspective, the reality, is this: What happened in Phoenix and Talent and two years ago in Paradise, CA, and with Hurricane Sally on the gulf coast a few days ago is the kind of thing that will happen until the end of time. It is the given. So our true hope is to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, for that is salvation FROM all of this. And the One who has given you the greater salvation, will also help you get from here to there; all these things [that we need for this life] will be provided for you as well. But this short life, hinging on having enough calories, avoiding sickness, and all the “stuff” of this world is still not most important. Rather …

REAL LIFE IS MORE

  1. Real Life Is More than Anything
  2. Real Life Is Everlasting Life
  3. Real Life is Enough
  1. Real Life Is More than Anything

Jesus asks a really interesting question, Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Is it? Can you have life without food or clothing? Jesus is talking about REAL life, the life of the soul, immortal life. There aren’t many people who are self-aware who believe that human life is just a body, and that the mind is the 5 pounds of grey matter in between our ears. We recognize the eternal intangible realities that every civilization has recognized: truth, beauty, right and wrong, love, devotion, honor and the like. These are realities, whether they can be measured, weighed, or photographed. And the part of us that senses these things is the part that transcends time, place, and circumstance– our immortal soul..

This life, however, now lives in a physical shell that is marred by sin, saddled with troubles, and doomed to die, all because of a lack of righteousness, as Isaiah says, “But your iniquities are separating you from your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not listen.” (Isaiah 59:2, CSB) And who is without sin? Anger, self-righteousness, pride, selfishness, gossip, greed, lust, contentiousness, sins of the mind and sins of the flesh.

It is to save this immortal life from sin, and in the resurrection to bring immortality to our whole selves, that Christ came. John puts it this way,  “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:4, CSB)

So when Jesus tells you that life is more than food, clothing, shelter, more than anything, it is this life that He is talking about, the life that you have now by faith, and in His kingdom, possessing His righteousness, you will enjoy forever. So, more than food and clothing, you need His righteousness.

2. Real Life Is Everlasting Life

This puts everything in perspective. What comes first, and what comes second? Jesus tells us, But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

His righteousness. Your righteousness or mine is nothing really, but the righteousness of Christ is something that IS. It is a reality that Jesus lived out in His life, as true and holy God who took up our humanity. And His righteousness can be given to us, counted as ours, because He also atoned for our un-righteousness. When He lived, suffered, died, and rose again, He accomplished this for all people at all times.

This righteousness is there for you. He gives it to you through His word and sacrament, even as I say His words to you: I forgive you all your sins. You receive this righteousness by faith, and nothing, nothing, nothing, is more valuable, more precious, more desirable, or more important, as Paul put it, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Philippians 3:8–9, NIV84)

But considering what has happened to our neighbors and those whom we love, considering what they lost and what they need just to get by, can we truly love God more than money or stuff, as Jesus says we must? Jesus leads us to the right answer by pointing out the realities under which we live. Yes, there are tragedies and there is death because of sin, yet daily life mostly reflects the mercy and love of God. Jesus reminds us that he spends millions of dollars’ worth of grain to feed the birds. He dresses oven fuel better than Solomon. He then puts it to you, Aren’t you worth more than they?

As much as this world is polluted and broken by the sins of humanity, and as undeserving as we are, year after year He “gives us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons and fills our hearts with joy,” (Acts 14:17) 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

Yes there will be troubles in this world but the One who has proved His love by not withholding His own son from us, knows what we need. As John says, “See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know him.” (1 John 3:1, CSB)

But we do know Him, so we know that when the fire is over, the rebuilding is finished, and life returns to normal, the most important thing, even more important than whether we survived the fire, or got our house rebuilt, or found a place to live, is that we know Christ, have His righteousness, and are destined for His eternal kingdom.

3. Real Life is Enough

If you have this eternal life, then you don’t have to worry, because real life is enough. Why would we worry? Ultimately it is because, with our sinful natures, we cannot quite divorce ourselves from the mast that Jesus spoke of at the beginning. We tend to love this short, troubled, mortal life, and the money that SEEMS to make it work that the real life that we have in Christ takes a back seat.

Thank God that His forgiveness and His righteousness covers even this idolatry!

So as Christians, we fight against it, so that His kingdom and His righteousness comes first. Take the example of poor Job. He lost more than we can even imagine, yet he confessed, “Though the Lord slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” For even in mortal death, we have the real and everlasting life. This Real life is enough.

Real life, the life of the resurrection, the eternal life of body and soul, the eternal life of joy and blessedness, the eternal fellowship with the Triune God, His angels, and the saints of every age, the new life with a resurrected body attuned to it is enough.

Think about His kingdom, which we are qualified for because of His righteousness. When you are struggling with the bills, or mourning the loss of possessions, or grieving over the hardship in this poor, troubled life, then think about the life that never ends, the life we have because of Christ. For in Him is Real life, and that life is a gift to us, Real life that is truly enough.

AMEN.

By |2020-09-20T14:58:13-07:00September 20th, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments

FAITH THAT MAKES US WHOLE

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A FAITH THAT MAKES US WHOLE

“I believe in God,” people say, based on the way He provides for us. But while God’s providence tells us something about His power and goodness, it doesn’t tell us WHO the true and living God is. The faith of the Samaritan in todays text is displayed in His worship of Jesus – as he gives glory to God. His faith is not in some vague spiritual thing, but in Jesus, the Christ, God incarnate.

True Christian faith takes hold of Christ and His righteousness, and while I can’t tell you that this guarantees the cure of some disease right now, I CAN tell you that the cure of all ills is found in Christ, Who is our eternal Savior.

Sermon for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity, September 13, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Luke 17:11–19 (CSB)

11 While traveling to Jerusalem, he passed between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten men with leprosy, met him. They stood at a distance 13 and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
14 When he saw them, he told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And while they were going, they were cleansed.
15 But one of them, seeing that he was healed, returned and, with a loud voice, gave glory to God. 16 He fell facedown at his feet, thanking him. And he was a Samaritan.
17 Then Jesus said, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Didn’t any return to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he told him, “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.”

Dear fellow redeemed in Christ Jesus, who have been given uncountable blessings by our gracious and merciful God, to Him be praise forever and ever:  Where shall we look for you in this picture?  Shall we find you among the ten who cried out in hope and faith in the midst of their suffering?  Shall we find you in the nine who went on their way without a word of gratitude to the One who had saved them from a dreadful life and a horrible death?  Or shall we find you in the one, the Samaritan, who had “a past” as it is put delicately, a past full of unbelief, but now has found a spiritual home on his knees before Jesus, his (and our) God and Savior?

Really, it isn’t that we are one or the other, for we may be all three at different times in our lives. The main thing is that we can learn the true nature of faith from Jesus and this Samaritan. The key thing about true faith is that it takes hold of Christ in truth. I can jump out of an airplane and trust that I will drift gently to the ground, but if I don’t use a parachute, all the trust in the world is meaningless.

The Psalmist makes this point in Psalm 121, I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1–2, CSB)  “The Lord” means the true God and none other.

Those who say they are Christians, have faith, pray often, etc., but do not pay heed to Christ and His word have a vain and empty faith. So, because His faith and His gratitude is in Christ, this Samaritan, this outcast, this foreigner, this undeserving outsider, this half-breed, is not only healed, but returns with thanks and praise.

This faith is crucial as Jesus says, “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.” Now, I can assure you that God is gracious to you, for He did not even spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything? (Romans 8:32, CSB)

How can we be in such wretched circumstances, fall so far short of what we want to be, and still receive the gifts that God wants us to receive?  Because of faith, for it is faith by which we receive God’s gifts.

IT IS FAITH IN CHRIST THAT MAKES US WHOLE

  1. When We Suffer
  2. When We Are Ungrateful
  3. When We Turn from Our Sinfulness
  1. When We Suffer

This is the faith that brings us to Christ when we suffer, and to nobody else. This is a reminder to us in this year with the Wuhan virus, Covid, lost livelihoods, isolation, riots in the streets, a nation divided, deadly fires, choking smoke, lost homes, not to mention all the usual afflictions of this life, we need to listen to our true Lord, attend to His word, come to Him alone in prayer, and put our faith in Christ alone.

He may deliver us immediately, as He did these ten lepers, but whether now or in the time to come, He is our only hope. For what we need is more than Gods providence. What we need is salvation. God’s providence comes to believers and unbelievers, but salvation only to those who call upon Christ, our true Lord.

So these ten weren’t just “spiritual,” believing in A god.

What God does for us is clear to all, but not Who he is. Some will give credit to Allah when things go well. Others to “Mother Nature,” or some generic ‘god.” Ture faith is not in the fact that there is a god, but in the True God and His promises.

So, it was with faith that these 10 came to Jesus, and called upon him boldly, asking Him for mercy and deliverance.  At times we are like these 10, bold in our prayers, above all knowing that this same Jesus hears our prayers, eager to show mercy and deliverance. They came to Him, suffering from leprosy. We come to Him with our cancers, our heart disease, and our COPD, – our poverty, loneliness, and disappointment. We come to him with our guilt.

We are like these 10, our faith is  in Christ

2. When We Are Ungrateful

But we are also like the nine, are we not? We have in some measure lost sight of the ONE who is the giver of all good gifts, and that’s a common error. James reminded his flock, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. By his own choice, he gave us birth by the word of truth so that we would be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:16–18, CSB)

But if we do forget it, we may focus on ourselves and our thoughts about him, instead of His word of truth.  Perhaps with some skepticism we speak of “luck” or “spontaneous recovery.”  To some degree or other our faith may grow weak, even dangerously so.  Then we are ungrateful, and forgetful of our Savior.  Ingratitude is losing sight of Christ as our God and Savior.

It’s like this: Let’s say that on your anniversary, your friends gave you a check for $50.  How would we respond?  Dear Elmer and Rosie, thank you so much…..  On the other hand, if you found a $50 bill and couldn’t find the owner, you would probably just call it luck.

Ingratitude is when we treat Elmer and Rosie’s gift as though it were just luck, and don’t thank them.

Ingratitude is when we treat God’s gifts as just luck, and don’t thank Him.

How many of the dollars in your paycheck do you see as God’s blessing to you?  How often do you sense the sun or feel the gentle rain, and see that it is God’s gift to you?  How often does your child give you a hug, and you see that hug as God’s gift?  How often do you boys and girls enjoy good times and good food and the love of your mom and dad and see that God has given these gifts to you? The God who speaks to you today through His word!

This is something to remember, next time you savor a chocolate chip cookie, or hear beautiful music, or hold hands with your spouse or drive down the road on a crisp sunny day with the car windows down… Remember that the one who has given these gifts to you is thinking of YOU.  He is giving them to YOU, not to the whole world and you accidentally, but to YOU, individually.  For only God can look out after a planet (a universe!) and still get personal about it.

How can we forget that?  Aren’t we often disappointed with ourselves that it has taken us this long to return and give thanks to God?

3. When we Turn from Our Sinfulness

With that thought, we become like the Samaritan.  We are the convicted sinner, crushed by the weight of our sins.  We are people with a past, a past of transgressions.  The Samaritan was by that name identified with those whose worship of “god” had been in defiance of the word.  He is one whose religion was the religion of the cult.  Accepting only the first five books of Moses, the Samaritans rejected the hope of David and of Isaiah, and of all the prophets.  Jesus describes him aptly, a foreigner.

But this is the past.  For us all our sins, our doubts, our lack of faith are in the past, and though remembered by us, they are forgotten by the one who judges, as it is written:  Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more, has been raised; he also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. (Romans 8:33–34, CSB)

Of all the gifts Jesus has given to you and to me, this is the most important gift of all, a gift intangible and unseen except by the eyes of faith.  He gave us forgiveness, life, and salvation.  Truly…

When He died on the cross for ALL, He died for YOU.

When He showed kindness and love to the people in His life, He had YOU in mind, and was living that life for you.

When your conscience stirs, and accuses you, it was with YOU in mind that He said,  “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28, CSB)

Now, you and I have received so many blessings.  Have we just picked them up on the road?  Did they just come to us by chance?  No!  Every blessing that you have, most especially forgiveness and salvation, are God’s personal gift to you.  May we return to His house, then, over and over again, praise God with our hearts and voices, and throw ourselves at Jesus feet — and thank Him!

AMEN.

By |2020-09-13T17:20:15-07:00September 13th, 2020|Sermons|0 Comments