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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father, in the Name of God the Son, in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and everyone who sins said … AMEN
Now that should be the loudest amen ever! The hard reality is this, sin separates us from God. Our completely holy, pure God, will not mess around with those who chose to adopt a sinful existence by ignoring His Son our Lord Jesus Christ. We are sinful beings, that will not change, that is our nature. We are only completely righteous/justified, sanctified in one way and one way only. We can’t earn it, it’s not about our position, you don’t gain seniority, you can be holy at 8 days old or 80 years old. It is only in your baptism, your confirmation in the church and all that as a result of Jesus’ act of atonement that He made for us, He made for every person and every sin when He was hung on the Cross, as a curse even though He was completely innocent. Game, set, match, nothing else, that’s the way it is. Our Holy God is not going to make an exception, you reject Jesus, you reject salvation. The default course that we are all on is Hell, eternal condemnation. No other course, no other deal, no other blah, blah. Very simple be in Christ in His church you are saved. Life is not “Burger King” and you can’t “have it your way,” that’s not the way God sees it. God give us reality in His revelation to us Scripture, that’s the way it is. You can listen to the nonsense in the culture, the made up stuff, that will get you dead here and then eternal death. I don’t care what your smart Uncle Frank says, or the smart professor, the neighbor who tries to be so sagacious, the Wilson Wilson’s of the world. There is only one “smart guy” in the history of everything Jesus and He said “I am the way, the truth, the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” If you chose sin to be enslaved to, you will be enslaved and condemned to all eternity. You die in your sin, you die in a state of separation from God, the only way that separation is bridged is in Jesus. We are rather casual about death in this day and age. For most of us, death, even serious sickness is unusual. In my experience military, ministry, death is not an unusual occurrence, it happens regularly. If people had my perspective on death they might not be so cavalier about it. In Luther’s day, even up the last 60 years, death was a common experience. People had big families so there would be children remaining. It was not unusual to lose a child at birth, infancy, to childhood diseases. Things we take for granted today, children died or became permanently handicapped from. One big reason why we emphasize the need to baptize children right away. I’ve been asked a couple of times to go to a hospital to baptize a child the fear the child might not survive. People, died in all types of circumstances back in those days. Most of what men did in those days, was somewhat dangerous and people died. If you’ve gone to a historic site like Williamsburg your guide will have at least one story of a woman who caught her long dress in a fire and died as a result. People then were much more aware of and sensitive to the fact that life is fragile, there are no guarantees. This is especially compelling to me as a pastor. You will leave here today, assured in knowing that you will get home, that you will go to bed tonight, wake up in the morning, life as usual. Most of us will live pretty long lives, the average American man will live to be about 79 years old. For us, who are here right now, we will probably live longer than that because there is still infant mortality to bring the average age down. You and I will probably live well past eighty. Nonetheless, I’ve seen enough in 43 years to know, that no one here has any guarantees, that you may think you will be home to watch the Red Sox this evening, but nothing says you have to. For those who are here, I have no doubt that should you not be here next Sunday, that you are in the presence of the Lord. That you have eternal life in Christ and are where we who are in Jesus will all be at some near point. However, for those who like to pooh-pooh Jesus, death, eternal life, no! Those people are in a state of sin, separated from God. The United States is a year lower than the average of other first world countries, the quote from “Fortune Magazine”: “A new study published in the BMJ journal looked into a broader cause behind the decline: despair: “We are seeing an alarming increase in deaths from substance abuse and despair,” said Steven Woolf, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University and co-author of the report.” Interesting how the world sees that and we don’t. We have the answer to “despair”, we have the hope and promise of Christ to tell the whole world, yet we hoard that hope and promise like a miser, it’s all about me and I shouldn’t have to share this with anyone, even when the Holy Spirit is moving you to share the only hope and promise of the world, eternal life in Jesus, forgiveness of sins that separate us from God and condemn us. I don’t care how “good” or “nice” or deserving you think you are Scripture tells us Romans 5:18 : “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” We are all born in sin in the original sin of the world, the only way to escape the condemnation of sin is in the sacrifice Jesus made as the complete atonement for that sin, nothing else gives us the hope and promise of eternal life. Do I want to scare you? Yes I really do want to scare you, we have become way too blasé, way to presumptuous in our attitude to sin and death. In general we all need a reality check once in awhile. The world tells us not to worry about it, why we as Christians keep taking the world at its word, baffles me. We have the world looking us square in the face daily and lying to us, while we know we’re being lied to. We die in a state of grace in Christ, in His Word, His promises, the things He did to give us the knowledge of our eternal life, or we get the attitude of the world, that is sure it’s all about each individual one of us and what we think should happen and decide it will go our way. The attitude that condemns us. The attitude that ignores Jesus’ promises and lives as if everything is their plan leaves people lost to eternity. We can’t afford that. As a pastor it does haunt me; people live that attitude and don’t realize how eternally wrong they are. The times I interacted with someone and afterwards felt I could have done better, a little more effort, something I could have done that the Holy Spirit would make them understand, yet they continue to resist the Holy Spirit and what He does through us in order for others to be saved and find out that person died without Christ. The choice is, you are saved to eternal, perfect life in a sinless state in Christ. Or you are condemned to eternal life in a state of sin and death. No in between, no my way, blah, blah! Martin Luther writes: “Sin is and acts the same everywhere; it does not want to pass as sin, does not want to be punished as sin: it wants to pass as righteousness. When it cannot achieve this, it throws the guilt from itself upon God. Accordingly, when God accuses man of sin, the man accuses God of telling a lie. So a human sin is turned into a sin positively diabolical, and unbelief is turned into blasphemy, disobedience into a reproach of the Creator.” We ignore God’s loving word to save us and listen to the obscene lies of an evil and ignorant world. We say we know this, Martin Luther/ or me, are telling you what you already know But too often we Christians don’t act in that understanding talking to the unsaved. We act as if it’s their problem and they will deal with it, because the world tells us to back off and shut up. Christ tells us to “go and make disciples”, As Christians when we have been in worship, perform confession and absolution, hear God’s Word, eat the Body and Blood of Christ we are being faithful, confessional, and trusting in God’s word. We are forgiven, we are strengthened to stand in the world as a man or woman in Jesus, as I say at the end of the Lord’s Supper “may the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and preserve you in body and soul to life everlasting”, to preserve is to assure that you/your body will live in a state of grace /forgiveness/relationship with God the Father now, for your entire life and deliver you into the eternal resurrection, life everlasting. When we chose to ignore what God gives us and believe the lie of sin and individual preference, decide God has to accept what we offer to Him, we are ignored by God and lost, it’s either in Jesus or it’s eternal loss. Not your call, God’s call.
The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah