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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know it’s about what God does and His Word said … AMEN! We are going to have a little spring training today. The Patriots win the Super Bowl today, the Red Sox report to Florida in a couple of weeks, a few weeks of fundamental baseball in Florida and all is right with the world. The subject is this, what are the fundamentals? What issues do we as Christians need to deal with, what is important for us to remember? There are way too many Christians who make other issues their top priorities; social issues, political issues, how much or how little sin, end times, making worship entertainment the Sabbath and in this case fussing over what kind of food we should/shouldn’t be eating. In today’s epistle lesson Paul is trying to get people to focus on what’s important. What are they focused on? Eating food that was offered to idols? As part of that discussion Paul’s saying; “We can all be smarty pants and get into these secondary issues with people. Try to look like we’re theologians, “oh heavens, we must talk about the seriousness of this vital issue. I saw brother Thomas over at the temple meat market and he was buying a prime rib that was sacrificed to a pagan ‘god’! That’s horrible! We can’t allow that! This must stop. I don’t care if the temple meat market has the best prime rib, if we buy prime rib at all, it better not be from something that was not sacrificed to some pagan ‘god’.” Yea, OK, in this context is that cool? No, it’s not! But on the other hand, for a Christian, is that something that really speaks to our eternal salvation or any other Christian’s eternal salvation? No, it’s not. We have a whole lot better things to discuss and frankly it takes away from those issues that are much more compelling. For example; ‘ok, brother Aurelius, we shouldn’t eat meat sacrificed to a pagan “god”. I’m not going to say right, wrong or indifferent. But Aurelius, when was the last time that you took a pagan or a new Christian and really sat down with them about the real issues of being a Christian? How’s your prayer life? How’s your relationship with Jesus? Do you feel the Holy Spirit moving you to serve someone and you didn’t? Let’s go back to the “Solas”. What are the solas? Sola Fide – by faith alone. It is His faith that God the Father gives Christians that we trust in Him, we trust His will and we follow His will. There are way too many people out there who try to make it out to be all about us, what we want, that God needs to get on our agenda. That’s not going to happen and God will lead us where he wants us and it is far better than anything we can do. Sola Gratia – By grace alone. This gets into the whole issue about how we are saved. Is it about what we do? Maybe even a little? Or is it about what God does? He saves us! It is through His grace that we are saved. We don’t earn it. The Father gives us His grace because in his sovereignty, He chooses those who are saved and they are saved because He brings them into relationship with His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We are saved only through Him and His righteousness. Even if we live the “perfect” life, did everything right or avoided the things we shouldn’t do, we’re not saved. It’s not about what we do, it’s what He did! We may have obeyed the Law, but the Law does not save you, we are only saved through the righteousness of Jesus and that becomes our righteousness when he brings us to Him and saves us. Sola Scriptura – Only through Scripture, only through what is in the Bible. We have a lot of “teachers” out there whose attitude is, “well, this isn’t in the Bible, but it should be and ‘my’ God would have put it in the Bible.” No! I am a Lutheran pastor, I am charged with teaching you what is in Scripture and helping you to understand that Scripture is what you need to grow in Jesus and serve Him. It’s not up to me to make up things and today there is way too much that is made up. Moving on, we believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. There are, again, way too many teachers who are teaching to the effect “oh well, that really couldn’t have happened, that’s not rational, and it really doesn’t matter, because we’re saved by our own agenda.” Every Sunday we recite the Apostle’s or Nicene Creed. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus is God the Son and could only have been born by the will of God. Not by any man. Jesus was born the perfect man and God the Son. Jesus is God! God the Son. There is only one God, and there are three persons who make up the Godhead: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. We cannot become “gods” as some teach. Jesus isn’t some sort of secondary “god” and He wasn’t the brother of Satan. There are no other “gods” and we trust Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus died for our sins. He is the perfect sacrifice and He took on himself the sin of all the world. That doesn’t mean that everyone is saved, because not everyone is baptized and lives in Christ. Most everyone lives in themselves and tries to justify themselves by what they do. We know that isn’t possible because we can never live the life that will save us, only Jesus saves us. Jesus rose, he was resurrected to give us the promise of eternal life. Through His resurrection we have the promise of our resurrection and eternal physical life in the new world that will come when this world is destroyed. We are saved through baptism. Almost the rest of Christianity teaches that baptism doesn’t save us. They teach we are saved because we make a decision to “accept Jesus”. No! Jesus accepts us and saves us through the washing of our sins in the water of baptism. Having said all that, we as Christians have what Dr Luther called “Christian Freedom”. Can we sin and be forgiven and still be saved? Yes! Jesus died for all sins. I’m still waiting for someone to tell me the sin they’ve committed that Jesus didn’t die for. I’m never going to hear it, but there are people who insist they are too sinful to be saved in Jesus. That’s wrong! When they are baptized, when they receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, when they confess their sins in repentance and hear the preached Word of God they are saved! Game, set and match, they have eternal salvation in Jesus. Paul is dealing with a bunch of people, the Corinthians, yea them again, who are way too caught up in other rules. When they did that, when we do that, we forget what really is important. They are all snarked up about people who go to the meat market of a pagan “god” and buy their meat there. Well this goes back to the Old Testament teaching that some animals are innately unclean and can’t be eaten. God said that in Leviticus 11. He listed out animals that He didn’t want His people to eat. OK, fair enough. But then Jesus came and with Him, we are again taught, it’s not about the secondary stuff like right or wrong animals. It is about Him, He died for our sins and our diet doesn’t change that. In Acts 10, God tells Peter, these things are clean, eating these things doesn’t mess up your relationship with Jesus. But now, we get into an issue where we do serve our brothers and sister. There are things that we can do, eat certain things, drink alcohol, smoke tobacco. Some of these things we probably shouldn’t do, but that doesn’t cut us off from God. But weaker brothers and sisters may have a problem with it. They may start to question whether this Christian thing saves them. They might look around and decide “well these people are doing these messed up things so I think they’re wrong and Jesus really doesn’t save us. We, as Christians, do have to be aware of how we affect other people. Can we do certain things? Yes, they might be sinful and we need to confess and repent, but we’re still saved. But if we do these things without any concern of how they affect others, then we are not serving those around us. We are called to be faithful servants and to do, or not to do, things for others so that we can disciple them and help them to grow and mature as a Christian. When we give power to silly things, like eating sacrificed animals to idols, we give that idol power that it just doesn’t have. We make it out to be something when it’s actually nothing. So we don’t get caught up in that. But if we make it tougher for a brother or sister in Jesus, then we aren’t faithfully serving and we should sacrifice for the better of someone else’s conscience. We should follow Jesus’ example, His sacrifice for us. We don’t, as Dr Luther said, want to create discord and contempt. We want to act in a way, in many issues, that others will be built up and strengthened in their relationship with Jesus. For this week, read all of 1 Corinthians 8 and read Romans 13, which is a lot of the same discussion. Are there things that you are doing in your life, that may be making it tough for non-believers or immature Christians? The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin