Full Text for Homilietical Studies (Text)

CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY OCTOBER 1990 Human Claims to Freedom and God's Judgment Richard Klann ............................... 241 Martin Luther on Preaching PatrickPerry ................................ 265 Bernard of Clairvaux as Luther's Source Franz Posset ................................. 281 Homiletical Studies. ............................ 305 THEOLOGICRI: LIBRARY Homiletical Studies Epistle Series B THE FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT December 2, 1990 During Advent we anticipate our Lord's "coming." especially His coming again on the last day. The introit for Advent 1 sounds the theme for thtl entire Advent season: "See, your king comes to you!.' Our Lord Ilitnself' reminds us in today's gospel that we do not know when our king will return; we must be watching consza~~tly. But we Christians ;ire not afraid of our 1,ord's return. St. Paul rcrninds brlievcrs in the text (the epistle) that God has made us ready for the last day by the gift of' His Son, our 1,ord Jesus C'tlrist. whose incarnation and birth wt3 shalI ct1lt.i1rate soc,n in Christmastidtl. 1,utht.r'~ great Advent hvmn, "Savior of the N;itions. Come'' (the hymn of theday), also suggests that it is our 1.ord.s first advent which prepares us well fijr His second one. If any congregation of people scerned unprepared to meet thelr king in His "apocalypse" (verse 7), it was the congregation In Corinth. Schism, strife, false doctrine. unionism, superstitiorl, anif abuse of God's gifts were rampant in this congregation. But the Apostle Paul reminds these Corinthian sinners (and us sinners today) in the introduction to his First Epistle to Corinth that no one prepares himself to meet his king; God prepares us by grace alone through His Son Jesus Christ. We note Paul's repetition of "Jesus Christ" in these few verses, emphasizing the fact that, we are who we are through Jesus Christ alone. We note also all the passive verbs in this section (verse 4, dotheisei; verse 5, eploutisthete; verse 6, eheh:~iothe; verse 9. eklethete) underscoring the passive receptivity by which the Corinthians enjoy God's gifts; the only active verbs in this section are used of Paul (verse 4, encharisto) and of God (verse 8, bebaiosei). The Corinthian Christians (and Christians today) have nothing to do with their salvation. Only two verbal forms refer to the Corinthi- ans, neither of them finite verbs-the first in verse 7, hustereisthai, an infinitive, and the second in the same verse, apekdechomenous, a participle. The Corinthians do nothing for their salvation; they are "lacking nothing" (because of what God has done for them and given them) and they are "waiting" (apekdechome~~ous, present participle). Introduction: "See, your king comes to you!" This is the theme of this Advent season which we begin today. Jesus makes it clear in the gospel this morning that He is coming back and urges everyone to 306 COIVCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY watch and be ready. Many will not be ready when Jesus returns ., the last day for judgement. Are you ready? St. Paul reminds us this morning that we believers are most certainly ready: KEAlIY TO MEET OUR KING We are ready, not because of our own careful preparations or efforts, but because and only because of what our gracious God has already don(: for us. A. Left to ourselves we only make a mess of our lives and bring down God's anger on ourselves. 1. The members of the Corinthian congregation were like us in many ways. They bickered among themselves and were jealous of one another; they abused God's gifts; some lived in ways that shocked even the pagans living around them. Paul sadly wrote, "Some. . .have informed Ine that there are quarrels among you. . .Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly." 2. Paul then warned them, "Some of you have become arrogant. . .Shall I come to you with a whip?" (4:18-21). Transition: We also often live in a way which deserves only a "whipping" from a holy God. We must all agree with Isaiah when he cries out to the Lord, "We continue to sin against Thy ways. How then can we be saved'? All of us have become like one who is unclean. . .and like the wind our sins sweep us away" (see the Old 'I'estament lesson). How can we be ready to meet our king? B. God has tnade us ready to meet our king through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. 1. We note how many times St. Paul repeats our Lord's precious name in these few verses; he wants us not to forget that all we are and have as Christians comes through Jesus alone. 2. Only Jesus can give us the gifts of God since only Jesus shares God's nature intimately (in verse 3 the one preposition "from" [apo] governs both "Father" and "Lord Jesus Christ"). 3. This Jesus, Cod's own eternal Son, came into our world and took unto Himself our own flesh; He became L<' incarnate" and was born of a virgin on that first Christmas so He could be our Savior as Luther has us sing: "Savior of the nations, come, show Thyself the virgin's son. . .Father's equal, Thou wilt win vict'ries for 7 7 us over sin. Homiletical Studies 307 4. Our Lord Jesus, true man and true God, has earned for us all the gifts of God's grace and brought us peace with God forever (verse 3). C. God has given us all the benefits of our Lord's victory. 1. He "called" us also "into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ" (verse 9) through holy baptism, uniting us with our crucified and risen Lord Jesus. 2. Through faith, and through faith alone, we enjoy all God's gifts and treasures. a. We note all the passive verbs Paul uses in these verses. We receive; He gives. b. And He gives generously: "You have been enriched in every way" (verse 5), especially in "speech and knowledge" (verse 5). Transition: Because of our Lord's victory and the gifts of His grace and forgiveness He has given us in the gospel, we can anticipate the return of our king without fear, since we know He comes, not to condemn us, but to give us eternal life, as we sang in today's introit: "See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation." 11. But not only are we ready to meet our king because of what our gracious God has already done for us in Christ; we are ready because of what He promises to continue doing for us. A. He continues to provide everything we need. 1. Apart from our Lord's first advent we lack everything before God (cf. Romans 323; we note Paul's use of the verb hystereo in the text). 2. But for Jesus' sake St. Paul can happily write, "You do not lack [literally, "are not lacking," in view of the present tense infinitive] any gift of grace as you wait." a. The Corinthians enjoyed many "gifts of grace" (see especially chapters 12-14). b. While the so-called "charismatic gifts," such as tongues and healings, have ceased with the death of the Lord's apostles, we today still enjoy "gifts of grace," the greatest of which are faith and hope and love, as Paul makes clear in chapter 13. 3. In the Lord's Supper Jesus assures us again and again that all His gifts are ours as He seals His grace and peace by giving us to eat and to drink His own true body and blood. B. He promises to keep us faithful to the end. 1. If our continued faithfulness depended on our own wisdom or strength, we should surely lose our salvation, for we are weak in ourselves, even as St. Paul reminded the Corirlihians: "110 noi deceive yourselves. . .th wisdom of this world is foolishness in Ctod's sight' (chapter 3). 2. We may not have it in oursel\:es to he faiti~fuul, but St. E'au writes emphatically, as the Greek text literally reads "Faithful is God. . ." (the Greek ward for "faithful' stands first in the sentence whereas the NIV puts it last! 3. God works in us through His word and sacrament to kee~ us strong to the end {verse 9, where Paul carefully writes "through whom," and not "b.v whom." suggesting that God works this~ugh nleans). 4. Through word and sacrament God keeps us firm in our confidence that we a-re ''blameless" (verse 8): legally innoccnt of all sins and 311 crimes before Hirn. C~.)nrlusion: Through faith in C:h~.ist, then, we do not need t.c> fear our Lord's coming on the last day. Knowing that I-Ie has alreadv come into our world as the Savior of the nations and has come illto c~ur own Ii~es through His word and sacrameni.. we are more than ready to meet. our king. For our God is a God "who acts on behalf of i'n(~s:< who - 3 \v:+it for Him. Steven (:. Rriel Corcora~l and Maple Grovc, Minnesota ?'HE SECONl'll SUNDAY IX ADVENT This text nvt~rtaps (in three and a half of its seven verses) with the text co~~cluding, only a fortnight befiwe, Epistle Series A. This study will, therefore, assume the exegetical work already done in cocnection with tile Last Sunday in the C'hurch Year. A sermonic goal differing slightly from the goal suggested there can be fuund ir; the additional verses here (1 1,12,14) and in the new liturgical ambience (Advent). Advent is a penitential season In which we prepare, not only to celebrate well the first corning of the Lord and to receive Him rightly as He comes now in words and sacraments, but also to welcome Him when He comes again-in glory. The problem is that most people are unprepared for the inevitable return of Jesus Christ. The only means to the goaI stated above remains the same as a fortnight previous, namely, the promise of God-the second coming is the necessary consequence of the first coming of the Lord Jesus. Homiletical Studies 309 As prc;\liously noted, '2 IJet,er :3 foretells a destruct.ion of the universe yuoad fbrn~arn irz co~:nection with the parousia: but not a destruction quuad sclhst~zariam. l.,uthei-'s confidence in the purification and gliirificaticin uf heaven a~td wrth rests squarely on Scripture, while Crerhxri's idea "i' trjtnl anniliilat,iotl (like all his deviations from Luthei.'~ line) fails to do justice ti] the biblical data. Annihilationisin logically ~ecalciirates against the article of the resurrection, since, accortlil~g to Scripture. the bodies xhich we possessed in this world- derived from this earth and returning ta it (Genesis 3:19)-tire to be ours again, albeit glorified, in the world to come. Holy Wi-it, in fact: asserts the permt