The Preaching of the Cross

“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

(1 Corinthians 1:18)

In the Name of Jesus, the resurrected Lord.  Amen.

How true these words of St. Paul are!  He is right.  To those who are perishing the very cross of Christ is foolishness, as is the preaching of that cross (see 1 Corinthians 1:23).  The very message through which God gives everlasting life is considered petty and useless.  

Yet the preaching of Christ is the preaching of the very Gospel itself.  All who reject that message are perishing, for all who reject the preaching of Christ are rejecting Christ.  

 But to those who are being saved, the preaching of the cross, the preaching of Christ, is the power of God.  Those who are being saved are those who hear the Word and believe it, because it is God’s Word, and these continue in it, because they know it is not the word of man, but the very Word of God. 

 Thus does St. Paul write to the Christians in Thessalonica, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). 

 These received the words of Paul as they were in truth, as God’s Word, because they were not Paul’s words, but God’s Word.  They saw Paul rightly, as God’s instrument through which God spoke.  And they received him and what he said, not because Paul was Paul, but because He spoke what was right and true.

 Today’s pastors who preach Christ and Him crucified are indeed considered foolish.  They preach Him who suffered and died on the cursed cross for sins He did not commit.  They preach Him who was raised the third day.  They preach the forgiveness of sins as if we really have sins to be forgiven.  They preach that Christ is the only way, even if people don’t like to hear this message.  They preach of the blessed gifts of God in Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  They preach that salvation is only in Christ.  It is this that sinners are to hear.  Those who are perishing deny that this is the content of preaching.  But those who are being saved rejoice in God’s undeserved favor and blessing in Christ, for by it, they are certain of eternal life and peace with God (Romans 5:1).  Amen.

 Prayer:  Heavenly Father, do not look upon the hardness of my heart or my neglect of Your most precious Word.  Forgive me for considering the preaching of Christ through Your chosen instruments as foolishness and not worthy of my full attention.  Grant me to believe that it is through such preaching that you save those who believe, that I glory only in Christ and rejoice alone in His gifts and not at all in my merit.  Amen.

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Christ Opens to Us the Scriptures

…Though everything else seemed contrary to what the Lord had said, Jesus was then dead three days, and sadness and sorrow filled the air, it was what the Lord had spoken that would surely come to pass. Though Jesus truly did die, as He had said, so would He truly rise from the dead on the third day. It would be no other way. Otherwise, Jesus is not God and you are still in your sins.

This is not the case, for Jesus has risen, just as He said. For you He died. For you He rose, that sin no longer overcome, and that eternal death you not face, all your sin being put on Christ. You bear that load no more. Jesus, having taken all that was yours that was against God, has become your Savior. Those things God knows not any longer, for they are far from Him, as far as the east is from the west, says the Psalmist (Psalm 103:12). They can harm you none. We stand completely reconciled and at peace with our God.

This is the joyous Easter message that permeates the Christian church loud and clear. It cannot remain hidden. Its sound cannot be muffled. Though the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ fall on deaf ears, on hearing ears will the good news also fall. There, the Word will be planted, sprout and grow, bearing fruit and producing, some thirty, some sixty, and some hundredfold (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23).

Where the Word is, there also Christ will be. Where Christ is, there will also be faith. That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name, God gives the Holy Scriptures (John 20:31). He opens to you His Word and there reveals your Savior. If He not do this, your eyes would remain closed and blind…

Lk24.13-35, Easter 3, 2011A.pdf

Do all religions lead to heaven?

Speaking of Jesus Christ, Peter the apostle says that there is salvation in no other, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  Jesus Himself says, “Truly truly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47).  All religions do not lead to heaven because they do not all rightly teach Christ, through whom is the only way to heaven (John 14:6).  Only Christianity teaches that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  All others base salvation in some way on what we do.  Only the Christian religion points to Christ, and therefore, to heaven.  All others, not rightly preaching Christ, lead to hell.

“I cried to the LORD with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill” (Psalm 3:4).

Thursday, May 5, is/was the National Day of Prayer.

Truly does our Lord hear the prayers of His people. So does He command us to pray, and He promises to hear our prayer, answering them according to His good and gracious will (Matthew 7:7-8). And there is much to pray for!

Therefore, into His blessed hands we commend ourselves, our bodies and souls and all things, entrusting ourselves into His keeping and His help, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

WhatAboutTheLord’sPrayer

NatlDayPrayer2011 2

Announcements for the week of May 1, 2011

11-05-01, Easter2, Announcements.pdf

Saying and Doing

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 3:21-24

Many say that they believe in Christ.  It is quite easy to do so.  However, a disconnect exists between the words and actions of those who say that they believe in Jesus.  You’ve heard the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.”  Why is it, then, that so many, in fact, all, who say that they are Christian, fail the test of backing their own words with their actions?  Many speak contrary to the Word of God, and yet they claim that what they are saying is Christian.  Others say that they are Christian, but live immorally (living together before marriage, “sleeping around,” cheat on their taxes, use other people for their own gain, etc.).  Still, others who claim to be Christian think little of other people and are only concerned about themselves—and none other (see 1 John 4:7-11).

These things, and our own experience, demonstrate that words can be deceiving.  However, they also show the weakness of our sinful flesh.  Christians do indeed say one thing, and often do another.  Such was the struggle of St. Paul (Romans 7), and such is our own struggle with sin.

 Christians, as well as nonChristians, see and know the contrast that exists in what Christians say and do.  This cannot be avoided, because Christians are, in truth, sinners.

This is very frustrating, not only because of the way the world sees the words and actions of Christians and how inconsistent they truly are, but because the Christian also knows these things.  They say one thing and do another.  They confess their sin, and do the same thing again.  They say, “I’m sorry” the one moment, and the next, keep doing that thing that they had said they were sorry for.

It’s quite tempting to become despondent and despair because of one’s own shortcomings and failures, in fact, of one’s own sin.  This is a cross that Christians are to bear (Matthew 10:38-39).  Here, it’s a great temptation to consider others somehow more worthy of God’s grace and favor than oneself.

But remember, even St. Paul had said, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).

God’s grace and favor does not depend on your worthiness or unworthiness.  It depends on Christ.  Here, one is not more worthy than any other.  Here, God’s mercy and compassion through His Son is all that you need.

Should you come bringing your own “worth” to God, you then will most certainly not have His grace upon you.  But seek the mercy of God in Christ, without any merit or worthiness in you, and God’s grace you most certainly will have—sin forgiven and peace with God (Romans 5:1).

Believing such revealed truth is faith, faith that believes in the heart, and the faith that doesn’t merely speak with the mouth (Romans 10:4-13).  One who so believes will constantly struggle with their sinful flesh, confess their sins to God, believe in the Lord Jesus for forgiveness, and seek to amend their sinful life.   Though life will be one of falling and failing, the Lord does neither.  And in Jesus is our trust, comfort, and hope.  So the Christian will constantly seek to do better, knowing that salvation rests in Jesus alone.  Amen.

Luther

“It is easy for you to say and believe that Christ, the Son of God, was given for the sins of Peter, Paul, and other saints, who seem to us to have been worthy of this grace. But it is very hard for you, who regard yourself as unworthy of this grace, to say and believe from your heart that Christ was given for your many great sins.”  (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p34).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for not being and doing who you have called me to be and what you have called me to be doing.  Direct my eyes, not to any worthiness in me or in any other, but to Christ Jesus and Him alone (Hebrews 12:1-2).  Help me to do better.  Give me a firm faith, that I boldly confess Your Holy Name and also live a godly life, for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

The Substance of our Faith

The devil, the world, and our sinful flesh are mighty foes indeed to faith. Truly, unbelief is an easy thing. It comes natural to all of us. As the Psalmist says, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me (Psalm 51:5). From birth man is cursed with an unbelieving heart. Of ourselves and by ourselves, we do not know what it is to truly have faith in the Lord Jesus, for of ourselves and by ourselves, we are not able to receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to natural man, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned, as God reveals through the hand of St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 2:14).

It is a result of sin that natural man does not believe the promises of God or the Holy Word of God. To remedy this state which man is in naturally, help must come from the outside, not from within. Thus did God the Father send His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17).

Man must be born anew and not remain in his first birth of sin and death. Therefore does God give His Holy Word and Baptism, Word and water, by which your are washed of your sins and made clean, declared His child, and birthed anew of water and the Spirit (John 3:5)…

Jn20.19-31, Easter 2, 2011A.pdf

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