Monday, December 10, 2012

Sermon for 28 October 2012, Reformation Sunday

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
John 8:31-36
Set Free
Reformation Sunday, 28 October 2012
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Satan Called a Worldwide Convention. In his opening address to his evil angels, Satan said, "We can't keep the Christians from going to church. We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can't even keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken.
So, let them go to their churches; let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time, so they can't gain that relationship with Jesus Christ. This is what I want you to do, [evil] angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Saviour and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!"
"How shall we do this?" shouted his [evil] angels.
"Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds," he answered. "Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow. Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6-7 days each week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford empty lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon, their home will offer no escape from the pressures of work!
"Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still, small voice. Entice them to play the radio or (cassette player) [music player] whenever they drive. To keep the TV, (VCR,) [video player,] CDs and their PCs going constantly in their home and see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ. Fill the coffee tables with magazines and newspapers.
"Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, mail order catalogues, sweepstakes, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services and false hopes. Keep skinny, beautiful models on the magazines so the husbands will believe that external beauty is what's important, and they'll become dissatisfied with their wives. Ha! That will fragment those families quickly!
"Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted and unprepared for the coming week. Don't let them go out in nature to reflect on God's wonders. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts and movies instead. Keep them busy, busy, busy! And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions.
"Go ahead, let them be involved in soul winning; but crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Jesus. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause. It will work! It will work!"
It was quite a convention. The evil angels went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get more busy and more rushed, going here and there.  I guess the question is: Has the devil been successful at his scheme? You be the judge! Does "busy" mean: Being Under Satan's Yoke?

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” [1]

Hold on to the Word of Christ this Reformation Sunday and always. The Reformation was never really about Luther or Germany or protesting ecclesiastical authority. It was and is all about Jesus, a return to Scripture, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and reforming human traditions on the basis of Scripture and the Gospel:
Grace alone,
Faith alone,
Scripture alone,
Christ alone,
all to God’s glory alone!

CTLC Note: There is a historic saying in Lutheranism that the Church stands or falls on the article of justification. To justify means “to declare righteous.” God’s sure and certain declaration that we are righteous in His eyes is possible only because of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Through His life, Jesus satisfied God’s demand for perfect obedience. Through His sacrificial death, Jesus took God’s wrath and atoned for the sins of the world. The Holy Spirit, through the means of grace, works in us saving faith, which personally apprehends what Christ has done for us. Our justification before God, therefore, is brought about by the One who lived, suffered, and died for our salvation. We cannot merit God’s favor through our obedience; we cannot offer sacrifices to pay for our sins. But what we cannot do for ourselves, Christ has done for us. He is the solid Rock on which God builds His Church. On Him, and Him alone, we stand forgiven. (See also Ap IV; SA III XIII; FC Ep III and SD III.)
Augsburg Confession Article IV:Justification. 1 Our churches teach that people cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works. 2 People are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake. By His death, Christ made satisfaction for our sins. 3 God counts this faith for righteousness in His sight (Romans 3 and 4 [3:21–26; 4:5].
Article V: The Ministry. 1 So that we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. 2 Through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given [John 20:22]. He works faith, when and where it pleases God [John 3:8], in those who hear the good news that God justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake. 3 This happens not through our own merits, but for Christ’s sake.
4 Our churches condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that through their own preparations and works the Holy Spirit comes to them without the external Word.
Article VI: New Obedience.1 Our churches teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruit [Galatians 5:22–23]. It is necessary to do good works commanded by God [Ephesians 2:10], because of God’s will. We should not rely on those works to merit justification before God. 2 The forgiveness of sins and justification is received through faith. The voice of Christ testifies, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’ ” (Luke 17:10). 3 The Fathers teach the same thing. Ambrose says, “It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving forgiveness of sins, without works, through faith alone.”
Article VII: The Church.
1 Our churches teach that one holy Church is to remain forever. The Church is the congregation of saints [Psalm 149:1] in which the Gospel is purely taught and the Sacraments are correctly administered. 2 For the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree about the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. 3 It is not necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies instituted by men, should be the same everywhere. 4 As Paul says, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:5–6).
Article VIII: What the Church Is.
1 Strictly speaking, the Church is the congregation of saints and true believers. However, because many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled within them in this life [Matthew 13:24–30], it is lawful to use Sacraments administered by evil men, according to the saying of Christ, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat” (Matthew 23:2). 2 Both the Sacraments and Word are effective because of Christ’s institution and command, even if they are administered by evil men.
3 Our churches condemn the Donatists, and others like them, who deny that it is lawful to use the ministry of evil men in the Church, and who think that the ministry of evil men is not useful and is ineffective.[2]

Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Happy Reformation Sunday in Jesus’ Name! Amen.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Jn 8:31–38). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[2] Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. 2005 (P. T. McCain, Ed.) (32–34). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.