Full Text for Homiletical Studies (Text)

CONCORDIA THEOLoGlCAL QUARTERLY Volume 49, Number 4 OCTOBER 1985 Announcements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239 John Bugenhagen and the Comma Johmneum ...................... ...... Franz Posset 245 Roman Catholic Reflections on Melanchthon's De Potestate et Primatu Pupae.. . . . . George H. Tavard 253 Theological Observer ........ .... ... ................ ....... .......... 267 Homiletical Studies.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 273 Book Reviews .......... ......................... . . . . . 305 Homiletical Studies THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT December 1, 1985 Paul does two things at once. He thanks God for the Thessalonians and offers petitions to God on their behalf. Paul's thanks are due to the news from Tunothy that the Thessalonian Christians are continuing in faith and (3:6). Pad makes these petitions because he has spent only a short time in Thessalonica and wants to complete what is lacking in the faith of his friends. Futhemre, his efforts have been cut short by persecutors of the faith (2:14-16), and so he is uncertain as to the Thessalonians' spritual health. Paul uses the word "triion" to describe his present woes as he, tom from the Thessalonians, waits aloae and impatiently while Timothy travels north to ascertain the Thessalonian situation. The tribulation, then, is not merely some future trouble for the church, but present ditliculties 'faced by Paul and by all Christians. Christians tow need to see the Biblical response to tribula- tions as God's message of hope in their often difficult Christian lives. God's answer to the tribulation is huofold. First, ultimately He will deliver us by the pamush (corn- ing or appearing) of our Lord Jesus. Second, in the mantime He comforts, strengthens, and prepares us today with the ministry of the apostolic %rd. Since no one knows the day of the parousia (5:2),Paul is more anxious to prepare and strengthen his people than to discem any divine secrets. Kwwiog the health of the Thessalonians' faith Paul's petitions for them are really more of a bless* or benedic- tion than pious wishN thinking. Hi words also provide us an excellent summary both of what Paul's ministry was to accomplish and what the ministry oftbe apostolic %rd can accomplish today, especially in tenns of preparing for the coming of the Lord. Intrucktion: Thanksgiving and Christmas are times when we either visit loved ones or are visited by them. Thanksgiving was just three days ago and perhaps v$itors may still be in the worship service this morning. In our visits we tend to talk about sports, food, family, church, and almost anything under the sun. Pdul wanted to vis- it his friends and talk about something more important and to prepare them for an even more important visit. He wanted to talk about Jesus Christ and prepare the people for Christ's coming. When we listen to Paul's words, not only shall we know how to be prepared, but listening will prepare us. When Christians Listen to God They Become Repared for Christ I. When Christians listen to God, their faith is completed. A. The content of our faith (what we believe) gmvs through hearing the Word. 1. For example, one may know Jesus as his Savior but be confused about His Supper. Listening will help. 2. For example, one may know God's love but not be certain of the events surrounding the second coming. Listening will help. B. The more information from the Bible we have the stronger we will be. 1. Since we are so sinful and blind by nature. 2. Especially since, as Christians, we suffer tribulation. 3. Since so many false teachings are confronting us. 274 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY Not only does God's Word give us information about Christ, but II. When Christians listen to God, they increase in love. A. God in Christ causes us to love. B. Especially, we love other Christians. 1. Since we are one with them. 2. Not just in attitude but through actions. C. We also lwe all people. 1. As a witness. 2. Since we are constrained. D. Paul is a good example of this lwe. 1. He sacrificed himself for his people. 2. He gave himself to serve others. The Word causes us to love others only because it has powerfully saved us, for III. When Christians hear the Word of God, their hearts are established. A. Established to live blameless lives (cf. Php 2%). 1. "Blameless" describes our conduct. 2. Even this blamelessness comes from Christ. B. Established in a state of holiness. 1. This state is Christ's gracious doing. 2. This state of holiness is not a gradual accomplishment. 3. This state of holiness is the cause of blamelessness and not its effect. C. Prepared to stand at the coming of Christ. Conchion: Hearing God's Word prepares us because our faith is completed by it, our lwe is increased by it, our hearts are established by it. We prepare for any visitor on holidays and special occasions. Since Christ is coming at any time, we must be prepared at any time. W prepare ourselves in the same way as the Thessale nians almost two thousand years ago-by hearing the message of Christ. Klemet Preus Grand Forks, North Dakota THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT Philippians 13-11 December 8,1985 As in the Epistle for the First Sunday in Advent, in this text Paul deals with the topic of sanctification in the wider sense. He is not so much concerned with our specific good works as he is with God's working in us. Paul again is thanking God for fellow Christians. His prayer for them offers a description of the sanctified Chris- tian. The prayer, while begun in verse 4, is not expressed until verse 9. Verses 5-8 are the basis for his prayer. krses 5-7 talk of the Philippians' condition. Verses 9-11 talk of the natural expression of this gracious condition. Both sections commence with an expression of Paul's affection (vs 3-4, 8), and both sections refer to the "day of Christ Jesus" Incidentally, the expression "fellowship" in the Gospel (v 5) seems most naturally understood as a close equivalent to ''common faith" or the "fellowship of grace" in verse. 7. Some commentators take the expression to mean a monetary gift or sharing in mission wrk. While these activities would spring from "fellowship" in the Gospel, such a definition tends unnecessarily to narmw the term. Intducrion: Today the world is full of gloom and doom preachers and all sorts of birre claims about the end times. People often are more concerned about deter- Homiletical Studies 275 mining the impossible than preparing for the inevitable. The beauty of Christianity is that it is a religion not of conjecture but of comfort. The Wrd gives us confidence not only that Christ will come but that God has prepared and continues to prepare us for this coming. So a Christian is not just someone who anticipates and waits for Christ but one who is ready and prepared for Him. God Prepares Us for the Day of Christ God prepares us for the day of Christ by giving us the Gospel. A. God alone is responsible for the creation of my faith. 1. I am too sinful to create faith or cooperate with God. 2. The idea of grace excludes my efforts. 3. This creation is through the Gospel. B. God also preserves and perfects my faith. I. He does so by the Gospel. 2. He does so alone. C. God's work in me enables me to stand confidently on the last day. 1. Since I am standing in Christ. 2. Since my standing depends not on me but on God's grace. While God prepares us for the day of Christ by the giving of the Gospel, this Gos- pel also produces something in us. 11. God prepares us for the day of Christ by bringing forth fruits in us. A. These fruits spring from our righteousness in Christ. 1. They have value because we are in Christ. 2. And so by them God is glorified. B. These fruits are produced gradually. 1. As we gmw in our relationship to Christ (knowledge). 2. As we gmw in our moral experience (insight). C. These works done in us will stand when Christ comes. I. These works will be pointed out publicly (Matthew 25:34ff). 2. But our sins, being forgiven, will not be mentioned. Conclusion: God prepares us for the day of Christ (1) by giving us the Gospel and faith which gives us our standing before Him and (2) by bringing forth fruits in us which will be publicly praised as glorifying God when he comes. Why should me get distraught and disquieted aver all the confusing and silly theories about Christ's coming? Let us look to the Gospel instead. Thereby we are prepared, perfected, and made ready. This way is far better. Klemet Preus THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT Philippians 4:49 December IS, 1985 The theme of Advent takes a different shape this Sunday and the lessons assist in this shift of mood. The strong tone of judgment, characteristic of the first two Sundays of Advent, now makes room for a burst of joy adthe "peace of God which passes all understanding" (Php 4:7). The Epistle from Philippians is the old introit for this Sunday and serves to bind together the three lessons around the theme "Re- CONCORDLQ THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY joice!," a most appropriate choice for this "Gaudete" Sunday. For the theme of joy is a dominant one in Philippians (l:4,18,25;2:2,17,18,28,29;3:1; 4:1,4,#)) and is always juxtaposed with suering, for the Christian lifestyle is always characterized in Philip pians as jay in the midst of suffering. In his captivity Paul is preoccupied with com- . . mutucahng to the Philippian community that his sufferings for Christ ate not a negation of the Gospel but an affirmation of his authenticity as an apostle of Christ. Thus, the theme of jay in the midst of suffering dominates this epistle from begin- ning to ed, giving it an eschatological flavor that reaches a climax in this pericope. Jay is the stance of the Christian in the midst of suffering because the panwsia is near. By prayer aud supplication the Christian may petition God to ease the anxiety of a life lived out in imitation of Christ so that, through forbearance, he may have the peace of Christ. nKse are lofty goals for the Philippians and for our communities. But every Christian community receives them as part of the apostolic tradition that is handed drmn generation after generation thmugh the Word. "what you have learned aud received and heard and seen in me" (v 8). Paul sets himself up as a model of jay in the midst of persecution, but calls all Christians to imitate Christ in the qualities of His life and His attitude in suffering. So the Philippians are encouraged to have the same mind of Christ as portrayed in the great hymn of Christ's humiliation aud exaltation (Php 2%-U;. Most commentators take verse 8 of our pericope as a list of Hellenistic virtues, but thqr are more likely the attributes of Jesus Christ, the perfect gift from above. These are the same kind of attributes that are used to de- scribe Christ and the Christian in the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:l-l2). For the suffering church that is anxiously preparing for the celebration of the in- carnation, where the Savior is born in a manger in Bethlehem, these are sumptuous themes upon which to dine on this third Sunday in Advent. Our anxiety aver life in a broken universe gives way to jay inside our tears. And so what we truly an- ticipate and what we actually prepare for is the inbreaking of God's peace in the Christ child, a peace which passes all understanding. The paradox is that jayful tears yield lives of peace with God. Zephaniah announces the jay and demonstrates God's presence in our midst, while Luke shows us how the Holy Spirit helps us prepare by cleansing the way and anticipating the consummation of all things. The mood of this pericope is the imperative to live in the theology of the cross. Consider the following internal structure of this pericope (imperatives italicized): (4) Rejoice in the Lord always. . .Rejoice! (5) Make Lmnm your forbearance before men. (6) Do nor be anxious. (7) Muke known your petitions before God. And the peace of God will keep.. . (8) Consider these things. . . (9) Do what things you learned, you received, you heard, and you saw. And the God of peace will be with you. W~th this internal structure in mind the following outline recognizes the theme of the Third Sunday in Advent and the overall theme ofPhilippians that finds its climax in thii pericope. Joy hide Our Tears I. For joyful tears make known our forbearance before men (v 5). A. Forbearance that recognizes that the Lord is near (v 5). Homiletical Studies 277 B. Forbeamme that petitions God (v 6). 1. By prayer and supplication. 2. With thanksgiving. C. Forbearance that keeps our hearts and minds in the peace of God (v 7). 11. For jayful tears show our imitation of Christ. A. Imitation of His Christlike qualities (v 8). 1. Received in Baptism when w become "Christ's." 2. Detailed in the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5). B. Imitation of His suffering for the Kingdom (Php 3:lO). 1. Suffering in our fight against opponents of the Gospel (Php 1:D-30). 2. Sufkring with the same mind of Christ Wed in the incarnational poem of Philippians 2:6-11. C. Imitation of the apostolic tradition that assures us that the God of peace will be with us (v 9). 1. By mting what we have learned, received, heard, and seen from the apostles (v 9). 2. By proclaiming tts incamate Word whose birth we celebrate at Christmas time. 3. By celebrating God's peace in the Eucharist. Arthur Just THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADYENT On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, the church now hunkers down and focuses on the essence of the holy season. The theme of this Sunday is chrismlogical. There is a conscious attempt in our lessons to see God's incarnational purpose rid in the crucified body of the Messiah. Micah announces the anwshy of the Son of hid born in ReiMehem; Mary proclaims that the child in her womb is the Messiah€hrist; and the author of Hebrews uses Ralm 40 as the means for declaring that the incar- Rate Lord is the one to be ofinxi up upon the cross as the final sacrifice for the world's sins. Thus, this last Sunday before the Nativity of our Lord is dominated by a theme that inextricably binds together the incarnation and the atonement. As we stand on the holy ground of Christmas, this is a fw theme for us to consider. And the Epis- tle from Hebrews is a marvelous vehicle by which to vroclaim this mess=. Our pericope immediately precedes the climax o;f the ~~istle to the Hebrews in H):ll-18 where Christ is vmlaimed as the exalted Hieh hiest. But todav's lesson is seminal in udmtad&this Epistle, for it brings ford;the basic uoderstahding that, in Christ, the old becomes new, that "He [Christ] takes away the first in order to establish the second" (v 9). He does so by making a sacrifice of Hilf, once-br-all. The distance between the atonement and Christmas is only temporal, for when the child is born in Bethlehem, is death is already seen as the climax of His incamation. It is fair to say, therefore, that Jesus Christ is born to die. And it is also fair to say that with the birth of Jesus Christ, the old becomes new, the old covenant of sacrificial offerings giving way to the new covenant of the once-for-all sacrifice of God's Son for the sins of the world. The author of Hebrews sees in Ralm 40 a pro- 278 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY phetic statement in which the Messiah is seen as doing ''the will of God" by His self-sacrifice. For the people of God who gather to celebrate the incarnation and the atonement on this hrth Sundav of Advent. their eves should be focused on the sanctifying power of Christ's that cl& &m from all their sin. For it is here that God's people are declared holy; it is here that they are set apart as the body of Christ; it is here that they see themselves as new creatures in the new creation. Wfi the shift from old to new, there is a power unleashed, a spiritual pawer, that rocks the universe. One does not usually associate power with Christmas, but if this season is what our Epistle says it is, then there is a power breaking into the world that changes the world forever. One cannot preach in this holy season of our Lord's bi without recognizing that the incarnation, the atonement, and the resur- rection of Jesus Christ are power-laden events. As one considers the following outline, an introduction might discuss how God cl& His pclwer in humble images--it is the sleepy village of Bethlehem, not Rome. where the Savior is born; it is shepherds, not Pharisees, who come to worship the child; it is a manger, not a palace, where the birth takes place. How strange for our God to use His power, not for the glory of man, but for the saving of man. God's powerfd kingdom comes through abject humility, for in humility and weakness God's power is released, an understanding that unlocks the mystery ofthe incarnation and the atonement. Christmas is the season of pawer because of the reason for the birth of the child-Jesus Christ was I. A death that abolishes the sacrificial cult. A. The old covenant sacrifices are not desired (v 5). 1. They were to be a reminder of Christ's atonement (He 10:3). 2. The blood of bulls and goats do not take away sin (He lO:4). B. The old cavenant of the law is a shadow of things to come (He 10:l). 1. h Christ, the law is fulfilled, as is written in the roll of the book (v 7). 2. In Christ, the will of God is fulfilled, as is written in the roll of the book (v 7). 11. A death that is an offering up of Himself. A. The body of Christ has been prepared in the new covenant (v 5). 1. The atonement reveals the mystery of the incamation (v 5). 2. The atonement unleashes the power of a new age. B. The body of Christ (the church) has been sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ once-for-all (v 10). 1. To be sanctified is to be part of the new creation. 2. To be sanctified involves participation in t\e death of Christ. a. By remembering in our Baptism that we die and rise with Christ. b. By partaking of Christ's body and blood in the Eucharist. Arthur Just Homiletical Studies 2EJ CHRETMAS DAY Xtus was a Gentile, a companion of St. Paul. The apostle, after a brief stint of service on the island of Crete, lei? Xtus in charge. It was his task and ministry to bring stability to newborn Christians and i&t churches there. The writing of the letter falls ad 63 A.D. while Paul may have been in Macedonia. litus 3:4-7, the Christmas Day Epistle, is a profwnd statement of grace by St. Paul. It was God's philanthropia (love for mankind) which prompted Him to send the gift of His Son into the world at the nativity of our Lord. Paul defines grace simply by stating that God's love is given to man, not because he was deserving of such love, but rather as a free gift. The power of God's grace in Christ is brought to us by the "washing of regenera- tion,'' which clearly refers to baptism and not to an outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. While F'aul does not mention the part that faith plays in this drama where God is clearly the actor and initiator of His love, it is implied when he says that those who are recipients of God's grace in Christ are made heirs, the inhentors of eternal live. It is in faith that man appropriates God's gift of grace and makes its blessings his awn now and into eternity. Introducfion: I have before you a nicely wrapped present and on the box it says, "Open at Christmas." I wonder what it might be? A special gift for the pastor? A sum of money for the church to pay the mime or to buy a new organ? Nil, we shall never kncnu what is in this gaily wrapped box unless we open it. So let us open the gift! There, it is open, but all that is inside is a slip of paper. What does it say? "A gift to the congregation-the gift of My grace in Jesus =Ihrist." Signed: "God the Father." Amidst all the gifts that you have received this Christmas, I trust you will brasure this gift above all others, the gift of Ws love and grace in Jesus Christ. This Christmas: Iat Us Open the Gi of God's Graee As we do, we shall find. I. The Savior of the world (v 4). A. He is presented to us out of love. B. We are undeserving of such lwe (v 5). 11. The gracious act of baptism (vs 5,6). A. Baptism regenerates and saves by grace. B. The Holy Spirit is poured into our lives through baptism. III. The assurance of an eternal inheritance (v 7). A. In faith we make the blessings of grace our own. B. In faith we lay hold of eternal life as God's heirs. Conclusion: There are some gifts which are treasured for a lifetime because of the sentiment behind the gift. The greatest gift-giver is God. There is deep senti- ment behind His most precious Christmas gift-the gift of His grace in Christ Jesus. Shall we treasure this gift or despise and cast it aside as we do the wrappings from a gift we have received? Not only would God have you open His gift, but He would have you receive it in faith and treasure it to all eternity. Edmond E. Aho Yuma, Arizona 280 CONCORDIA THEOIDGICAL QUAKWRLY The authorship of the letter to the Hebrews remains a moot point. Was it Paul. with hi burden for his "bredurn"? Was it Barnabas the Levite, the companion of Paul, to whom TertuUian of Carthage credited the authorship? Was Hebrews, as Luther argued, the product of several authors? Regardless, it is a profound letter written before the end of the first century to dkd Hebrew Christians to the roots of their faith in the Old Testament, to urge them not to "cave in" as they faced persecution and arguments from their fellow Jews, and to point them to Christ, the "Seed of Abraham," the Messiah sent from God. (The Jewish faith was an accepted religion of the Roman realm, but Christianity was considered a sect.) Hebrews is essentially a Christological epistle. It reveals how Christ has, in all things, fulfilled Ws plan of the ages and is Savior of Jew and Gentile alike, for they are true children of Abraham who, like this father of believers, have faith in God's Messiah. Thus, this text for the Sunday after Christmas, which is traditional- ly a low day for pastors and parishes after the enthusiasm and exitement of Christmas, fairly bursts with a jqful proclamation of Christ, the flower that has bloomed in the midst of winter to reveal the beauty of God's plan of victory and salvation for all people. I-on: In a hauntingly beautiful Christmas song by Pietro Yon we hear these words: When blossoms flowered 'mid the sm Upon a winter night, Was born the child, the Christmas Rose, The King of lwe and light. Again the heart with rapture glows To greet the holy night That gave the world its Christmas Rose Its King of lwe and light. kt every voice acclaim His name, The grateful chorus swell. From paradise to earth He came That we with Him might dwell If the simple beauty of our Christmas celebration tells us anything, it surely tells us this: A Rose HPS Burnt Fixtb in Splendor Christ is that Rose: I. He has burst forth in His Nativity. A. He has become our brother, our Immanuel (vs 11, 14, 16, 17). B. He has become our brother to fulfill God's purpose (vs 10, 18). 11. He has burst forth that He might suffer. A. God's justice and mercy have kissed each other (Ps 85:lO). Homiletical Studies 281 B. His beauty is meant to be shared by all mankind (vs 10, 12, U, 16, 17; Ps 22:22; Is 8:17, 18) m. He has burst forth that He might conquer. A. Suffering without victory is hopeless (vs 10, 17). B. Christ, through suffering, has overcome the devil (v 4). C. In Him we become more than conquerors (v 18). Conc1u.sion: In many areas of the country and our world, living now in the depths of winter solstice, to find a rose in bloom would be most unusual. But there are places in our country and the world where roses are indeed in full bloom. In any case, important thing is to find the Rose whose stem goes back thmgh the ages to David, to Abraham, to Noah, to Adam, to God. It is none other than God's own Christmas Rose, the Rase that burst forth in splendor on the first Chrisbnas. Edmond E. Aho THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER CHRISIMAS In order that Christians might fulfill the purpose in this life which God intended (to live to the praise of His glory, vs 6, 12) the Apostle Paul reminds the Ephesians (and us) that reasons for praising God reach back much further than Jesus' coming to earth on the first Christmas. God's lwe and grace toward us were evident "before the foundation of the world" (v 4) was laid. The Chlurh Is Born I. The church was born in the mind and will of God before creation. A. God chose us to be His long ago. !. He wwld not endure the mgement ofthe crown of His creation caused by sin. 2. God's choice was prompted by His great love and ~ndese~ed kindness toward us (v 6). 3. God's choice was meant to stir us to praise. B. God carried out in time what He chose to do in eternity. II. Jesus' birth is the key to the birth of the church. A. Through Jesus we are made holy and blameless (v 4). 1. We receive the benefit of Jesus' righteousness by faith. In God's eyes we are righteous. 2. This righteousness Jesus earned for us by His holy life. 3. This righteousness frees us from the guilt of sin. To feel guilt when we have been freed of it is unnecessary and an insult to the grace of God and the Savior who freed us. B. Jesus in His suffering and death endured the punishment for our sin. 1. Through faith we are free of the punishment of our sin. 2. We need not live in fear of this punishment. 3. God means for us to serve Him and praise Him. C. Through Jesus and the working of the Holy Spirit we become God's sons (v 5). 282 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY III. Faith-filled Christians are evidence that the church is alive (v 15). A. Faith shows itself in lwe. 1. Faith shows itself in the lwe of God. 2. Faith shows itself in the lwe of one's fellowmen. B. Faith shows itself enlightening the eyes of the heart (v 18). 1. To kww God and Jesus Christ. 2. To know a glorious hope for this life and for heavenly life. 3. To talk to God in prayer, thus maintaming the relationship. Conchion: Reflect on these blessings from God and praise Him always! Rudolph A. Haak Cambridge, Minnesota THE FIR!!X SUNDAY AFI'ER EPIPHANY Acts lO:34-38 January 12, 1986 The great marvel of Christmas is that God became man. The great marvel of Epiphany is that this man is also true God. Being both hue God and hue man, He is the Savior of all men. For the Jew of the early Church this truth was a tremendous challenge to faith. Even the Apostle Peter, after being filled with the Holy Ghost (on Pentecost), could believe this truth only by virtue of a special vision from God (W 9-16). In the book of Acts Cornelius is the third Gentile to become a member of the household of faith (cf. the Ethiopian eunuch, 8:27;Nicolaus the proselyte, 6:s). In this special outreach of the Lord He teaches us again in a very special way that The Good New of Reace Is for All Pleopk I. Jesus is the center of the Good News of peace. A. Jesus is "Good News" only to those who recognize the rupture caused by sin between man and God. 1. Many who feel the guilt of sin do not undemtand its consequences, namely, God's just anger and our eternal separation from Him. 2. Every person, of every land, in every condition of life is affected by sin. The consequences in this life and in eternity are dreadful unless one is rescued from them by God through the "Good News." B. The Good News is Jesus Christ. 1. He has delivered every person from the guilt, punishment, and slavery of sin by His life, death, and resurrection. 2. In Him is life, new life now and life in eternity. 11. The Good News is meant to be delivered in person. A, The Good News of peace once came to Cornelius in a vision, but being a "devout man," he had, no doubt, already read the Old Testament Scriptures. 1. The Good News comes to us in Holy Scripture. We contemplate the writ- ten word and are blessed when we use it. 2. We send the written word all over the world in Bibles, tracts, and periodicals. The Spirit attends its use and brings blessings through it. B. God intends that His people "go" to proclaim, to teach, and to baptize. 1. God Himself not only proclaimed His news through the writings of the Old Testament, but in the fulness of time He also sent His Son. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn 1:14). Homiletical Studies 283 2. Peter rose and went and talked to Cornelius (v 23). Cornelius needed the witness of Peter. 3. The Lord tells us, "Go!" (Mt 28:19; Mk 1625). To tell about peace and reconciliation between sinful man and His God is good. God will bless the hearers of the news with faith. The "Good News" is best proclaimed when the message comes from a person who is reconciled to God and whose countenance beams with the peace which only God can give. Conclusion: Go therefore to every person who has not yet heard, and to all who have. Go therefore to every person who is a sinner. Go therefore to every person for whom the Savior lived, died, and rose from the grave. Go therefore to every person whom God would reach, that none for whom he gave His Son may be lost. Rudolph A. Haak THE SECOND SUNDAY AXTER EPIPHANY January 19, 1986 1 Corinthians I2 is set within the greater context of Paul's instruction to the Cor- inthians concerning spiritual gifts (12-14): Why were these gifts given? How are they bestowed? How were they to be used? The Corinthians were apparently impressed with the more visible churismura and were selfishly seeking after these gifts. (This is exactly what Paul is saying in verse 31 if the verb zeloute is taken as indicative instead of imperative, as all the translations tive it. The context would argue for the use of the indicative.) But God is not a God of chaos and discord, allowing His precious gifts to be dk pensed randomly according to our selfish whims or by virtue of the earnestness of our seeking. The individual is stressed in these verses. Each Christian is given a gift or gifts. The "one God" gives to each a gift through His Spirit, and it is the same Spirit who dispenses varieties of gifts. Our duty as Christians, then, is not to seek after gifts but to recognize and rejoice in our God-given spiritual gifts. A sermon based on the outline below would seek to instill in Christians the sense of honor implicit in their own individual spiritual gifts, knowing those gifts are deter- mined, custom-made, and built within-them ty God. Inrdurtion: We admire gifted people. Those with intelligence, good looks, or impressive skills usually control the inside track on popularity and success. Gifted people also exist within God's church. And here also we might be tempted to thinlc that some are thereby more favored than others. But St. Paul tells us that we are all special to God; we are all holders of this title: The Gi Christian I. Spiritual gifts come from God. A. The same Spirit that calls us to hith in Jesus bestows upon us "varieties of gifts" (vs 34). 1. By virtue of our faith we "are not lacking in any churismata" (1 Cor 17). 2. God sees to it that there are sufficient gifts for His church in any given place. 284 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY B. WarejwtthewayGodwantsustobe. 1. We are end4 with the gifki "He wills for us" (v II). 2. To seek jealously after other gifts is not only unnecesciary; it calls into question God's unique ordinance for our place in His kingdom. 11. Spiritual gifts are "for the common good" (v 7). A. In diversity there is unity. 1. God coordinates and compliments the gifts in His church. 2. Every gift and, therefore. every individual is important if the common good of God's kingdom is to be achieved. B. It is necessary, then, that we recognize our individual gifts and use them (A description of the gifts in verses 8-10, or other gifts listed elsewhere in Scripture, as they apply to the specific congregation may be given.) Conclusion: How important we all are to God! He not only calls us by name to confess His name in faith; He also honors each of us further with special and vitally important gifts. Truly, we are "gifted Christians." Rurl E. Cloeter Kimball, Minnesota Whereas the emphasis in 1 Corinthians l2:I-ll is on the individual and the diver- sity of spiritual gifts which God bestows on "each one" (vs 7,ll), our text, which incorporates essentially the remainder of chapter 12, is hl's instruction concern- ing the unity of these varied individual gifts in the body of Christ. This body, the church in its broadest sense, is to be a well-orgamzed and smooth-running opera- tion. Paul illustrates this by the analogy of the human body. Individual members are to use their divinely ordained and bestowed gifts so that the body may function as intended. Lie the Corinthians, many Christians within the church today are individualists who (1) want to work independently and, thereby, often counter-productively in the church; (2) try to be or acquire in terms of spiritual gifts what God never intended them to have; (3) look down on others with less dramatic gifts; (4) feel inferior or even worthless because their gifts are less "showy" or contribute in a less apparent way than others. The goal of the sermon outlined below is to remind Christians that our spiritual gifts, no matter what they may be, are valuable. But they find value only as they are put to use in concert with the whole body of Christ. Intduction: When it comes to joining together with others in accomplishing a goal, it seems everybody wants to be, or dreams about being, the proverbial quarter- back. We like the glory of being able to stand out. But as any employer or coach will tell you, it is the multitude of people doing their tasks well behind the scenes that makes success possible. St. Paul employs the same principle in our life together in the church. He motivates us to success in our text with MY Language I. Christ is the body. A. Through His body, Christ has reconciled us. 1. He has reconciled us first to God. 2. He has reconciled us also to one another as we "drink of the one Spirit" (v 13). Homiletical Studies 283 B. W, though many and diverse, find identity and unity only in His body. 1. Rk were baptized into Him by the one Spirit (v 13). 2. Thrwgh this action we have become one with Christ. (Compare John 17:21. Romans 6, and other hulk refem to the mystical union of believers "in Christ.") 11. W are the individual members. A. Each has unique gifts and intended functions. 1. The gifts are determined by God (v 18). 2. There is no room in the body, therefore, for criticism, envy, or feeliogs of inferiority and uselessness (vs 15-17.21). B. W have a vested interest in each other. 1. W care about each other. The pain and suffering of one member afkts us all adversely. Likewise. the honor of one member makes all members feel good (v 26). 2. Mrking together, the body functions and accomplishes its goal. Conclusion: In the heat of the Remlutionary W, Benjamin Franldin is dted with saying, "W all better hang together, or well all hang separately." By virtue of our calling as Christians, we hrm an importaot part in the mrall working of Christ's church. The body of Christ is no place hr individualists. By hanging to- gether and exercising our gifts to the Nlest, the body flourishes, to the honor of its members and to the glory of Christ. Paul E. Cloeter THE FOm SWmAY AFTER EPiPHANY The manner in which this text has been sentimentalized and even mvialized by careless readers of it is well-known. Genuine love is an easily misunderstood con- cept. htting the Word speak in its proper context is the means of i~~uminating the profound truth that Paul is seeking to teach. Clearly love is a "still more excellent way" (v 31). All spiritual gifts have a pur- pose. but genuine love (agape) ginds them all together. Its value is understood by the repared use of conditionals ("if ') in the early verses of chapter 13. The fre- quent emplayment. of the negative hot") in w~s 4-7 pmves that love is not easily defined by human language, which can often describe only that something is not, instead of what it truly is. Lave in truth is the premier divine quality which gives significance to every other valued Christian gift, including faith and hope (v l3). The goal ofthe sermon is to lead the hearers to begin to understand the surpris- ing value of love as God bestow it and they practice it. The problem is that we have a tendency to emotionalize love, which makes it subject to our unreliable feel- ings. The means to the goal is the carefully considered understanding of the fullness of love and how we love because He first loved us. Introduction: The words of this "Lave Chapter" are both amazing and surprising, worthy of more than an inscription on a wall plaque or a reading at a wedding. Lwe is part of the very nature of God and the €3dLI~g quality which is most to typify His people. If we by the Spirit's guiding truly let Him speak to us in this text, we will learn of 286 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY The Suprisii Ww of Love I. It gives meaning to the Christian life. A. No spiritual gift has any purpose without lwe (vs 1,2). I. The ability to speak in tongues is a useless gift without lwe. 2. The gifts of prophecy and understanding have no point without lwe. B. No heroic act of service does any good without lwe (v 7). I. Giving away everything, as commendable as it may seem, accomplishes nothing without love. 2. Surrendering one's self in martyrdom does not mean anything without love. It. It gives definition to the Christian faith. A. Believing in Jesus has no lasting value without Iwe (V 2). B. Believing in Jesus is defined in a visible, dramatic way by Christians who lwe as the Savior lwed. III. It gives completion to the Christian hope. A. Spiritual maturity increases as genuine lwe increases and leads to hope for the life to come (vs 9-12). I. In lwe we grow in confidence. 2. In love we "see" more clearly (v 12). B. Full understanding based on abiding love is our sure hope that will not disap point us. Conclusion: Perhaps it seems surprising that Paul would "rank'' lwe above the essential qualities of faith and hope. Yet the value of lwe is always surprising as it lends meaning to the Christian life, faith, and hope. It is the "tie that binds," the divine quality that lasts forever. David E. Seybold Fredonia, Wisconsin THE LM SUNDAY AlTJB EPIPHANY 2 Corinthians 4:M February 9, l!B6 It is sometimes difficult for Christians to understand how unbelievers can per- sistently reject a faith which to the believer is so valuable and sensible. Paul touches on this subject in this text, honestly observing that the Gospel is veiled to those who are perishing. What he calls "the god of this world" (v 4) has blinded their minds. Grammatically and theologically this phrase can properly be translated, "the god which is this world,'' reflecting what we believers know too well, namely that worldliness can be totally distrdng as it devours the attention of fir too many people. The goal of the sermon is to emphasize the value of Christian faith and the way that it makes excellent sense to those who have it. The problem is that the people of the world have been blinded by the world and accordingly try to convince Chris- tians that faith is quite foolish. The means to the goal is the sharing of the Gospel, which is the power of God to lift the veil (v 3) and shine forth as the "light of the knowledge of the glory of God (v 6). Homiletical Studies 287 Infroaktion: An ancient saying affirms that "concerning taste there is no disputing." Some people prefer red; others like blue. There is no sense arguing about pemnal preference. Yet unbelievers sometimes like to give the impression that Christians who "prefer" faith over unbelief have chosen a foolish and senseless belief. They cannot see any possible value in Christian faith and are unafraid to dispute what seems so proper for Christians. Do they have a point? Perhaps we ought to ask Just What Do You See in Christianity? I. It is a message veiled to the perishing. A. The god which is this world offers only distractions because it cannot offer any "light" (v 4). 1. It can succeed only when it keeps people preoccupied and blind to their sin. 2. It can succeed only by turning the view of people in upon themselves. B. The god which is this world seems sensible to the perishing because they know nothing else. 11. It is a message valued by the believing. A. The true and only God brings light to sindarkened minds (v 6). 1. His people can then see the wickedness of themselves and the world. 2. His people can then see the value of trusting in the Savior. B. The true and only God leads to genuine understanding; believing in Him makes complete sense and is the ultimate truth. III. It is a message illuminated in the preaching of Christ. A. Proclaiming the Gospel of Christ focuses on what God has done to save people. B. Proclaiming the Gospel of Christ reminds people that it is the Lord who alone can open eyes to see what real faith is all about (v 5). Conclusion: We should not be surprised that unbelievers cannot see any value in our Christian faith and service. The wrla has distracted them with sin because it has nothing better to offer. We can "see," however, both the deadliness of sin and the value of our salvation because God has in the preaching of the Gospel gracious- ly shined into our hearts with the light of Christ. David F. Seybold THE M SUNDW IN LENT Romans lO:8bl3 February 16, 1986 What do pastors want to happen in the hearts and lives of the people to whom they preach during Lent? Obviously the tone of the season as it concentrates on the suffering of the Savior and the extra services make it an ideal time for faith-building. However, most of our hearers not only claim faith but are probably quite satisfied that their faith is "strong" though it is often misdirected, misinformed, and sometimes just plain wrong. Mary things heard or experienced shape what people believe. This Sunday's lessons and especially the text offer a precious opportunity to proclaim again the foundation of faith, the Word! IWm: In "The Ancient Mariner" Samuel Coleridge penned the line, "Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink," a pitiful expression of want in the midst 288 CONCORDLA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY of plenty. This line reminds us of the condition of faith in our wrld. Faith is much talked about and credited with great things. Still this statement is true: "Faith, faith talked of everywhere, yet so few who do believe." The problem is that too often Eiith is built on wrong foundations. I. People generally do not understand what Christian faith is. Compare the pma&k, "I believe in God" and "She's very religious," to what Rd pointedly says in verses 9-10 of the text. A. Faith is, first of all, the conviction of the heart that Christ is Savior. I. Faith fOcuses on the fact of Christ's death and resurrection (cf. Jn 3:16, 1 Cor l5:3b-4, Ro 4:25, 1 Cor 1557). 2. But faith is much more than knowledge. It is personal conviction that produces a personal relatidip with Christ (Job 19:25,2 Tm 1:Eb. Php 3:7-8). 3. Too often what is merely in one's head regarding Jesus ("I learned all that stuff') is mistaken for what must be in the heart as well. B. Faith, secondly, produces confession with the mouth about Jesus. 1. Our Lord expects outward expression as a natural product of the faith in our hearts (Mt H):32. Ac 4:20). 2. W~tness to our faith is expressed in both what we say and what we do. (Illustrate with examples.) . Saving,~ife-re~Christian~is~oa'~theoffaith~'drewd of the Gospel. A. wrd is most cettainly "near" us in the abundance of Gospel preaching and teaching which most of us have received since childhood. 1. The central, simple, clear message of the Scripture is salvation "by grace. . .the gift of God. . .not by wrks" (Eph 2:8-9. Jn 19:30. 2 Cor 519). 2. There can be no mistake about who it is for whom God inends the Gos- pel (vs 11-12). (Briefly elaborate on universality of the Gospel and the Great Commission.) B. UnhlnmmAy having the Wd in abundance does not pmntee having saving faith. 1. The Jews (103-3) had the wrd of faith (vs 8. 18). yet in unbelief sought salvation in the law (v 16). 2. Many today, also in the church, despite their knowledge of the Bible, rest their hope in "my faith " or on doing "the best I can. . ." or they seek a "more relevant" religion in a cult. C. The Gospel must still be unleashed among us if true faith is to exist and gmw. 1. Only by the "wd obchrist" is faith created by the Spirit (v 17; Ro 1:16). 2. "Hearing" inmlves more than sound on our ears or words on a printed page; it imlves a. Listening to God (1 Th 2:U; Catechism, Third Commandment). b. Meditating. c. ~istenin~with the goal of application (Mt l3:3ff.; Lk U:28; M: 7:24ff.). d. Using it in battle with evil (Lk 4:l-l3). Canrlurion: May our faith increase and be strengthened during this Lenten season. especially as we give attention to the message of Christ, our suffering, dying, yet victorious and living Lord. Ed Dubberke St. Louis. Missouri Homiletical Studies 289 THE SECOND !WlWM IN LENT Feb- 23, = It is characteristic of sinful man that he does what be pleases for himself and for the here and ww. Illushations of this truth abound in the wrld around us. Madison Avenue takes advantage of it in its selling techniques. Both of the other lessoos for thisdqillustratehawthissamecharacteristic~~manywhocallthemselves God's people but who reject His Nrd and go their own wrldly way. Tbe Tbet is that they put more confidence in the flesh than in the Lord, to use Paul's mrds in the tirst part of chapter 3. In their pitiful efforts to become something &re God on theiu own they lose sight of the beauty and power of what believers already are throughunionwithChristbyfaith.Theapostle'sappealjust&rethetextisboth a Mtiag and necessary reminder for us "Let us live up to what we have already attained." InrMon: Tbe high value of the dollar in the last few years has mwed record numbers of Americans to visit foreign countries. Wherever they go they cany with dremWiAmericancitizenship.Theyhaveboththerightsof~andtberespoa- sibility of repfesenting their homeland. Hopefully they will be reupbd as good citizens. The same truth applies to our membership in God's Lingdom, of which we are citizens through Christ @ph 2:19). How essential is it that each of us Live on Earth as a Citizen of Heaven I. It is both natural and to be expected that all believers walk as to the same drumbeat in expression of their oneness in Christ (w 16, 17). A. By his appeal to follow his example Paul is wgiq gmwtb in sanctification. to become more and more Christ-like (Mt 16:24, Jn 13:15; Ro 15:s; Php 25, He l2:Z). B A vital factor in Christian living besides the wrking of the Spirit in the Wmi is having and folluwing positive examples of faith fwnd in Scripture and in other saints both past and present. (1 Cor El; He Il:lff). 11. It is a sad reality that many who profess allegiance to Christ demonstrate just the opposite in their li\.es. A. Paul defioes the characteristics of such false citizens of Christ's kingdom. 1. They are given to shameless gratification of the desii of the flesh (il- lustdons from our culture abound). 2. Their hearts are set on the things ofthis wrld, not on the things of God. 3. Such "Christians" lwe and serve the very things from which Christ, by Hi cross, came to free us. R Wk need to recognize and shun such "enemies of the cross of Christ" lest tbey become an influence on us, at the same time grieving over what has happened to them (Lk l3:34). III. Paul leaves no doubt as to what genuine citizens of the kingdom are like. A. In terms of their life they are all wrapped up in Christ alone. 1. Instead of all those things of life that promise to satisfy, their one eeasure is Christ (Php 3:7-9). 2. Their aim in life is to serve Him, not sin (Ro 6%'; 2 Cor 514-15). B. Alsointermsofhopeforthefuturethq.areallwrappedupinChrist(1 Cor 15:42ff, esp. v 58; Jn k1-6; Col 3:l-4). Cbnclrrsion: As we re-evaluate the citizenship which our lives reflect during this Lenten season we do well to heed Paul's final admonition in the text. "Stand firm in the Lord, dear friends." Ed Dubberke 290 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT March 2.1986 InrrodLccrion: The final verses of this text are often used to comfort Christians who are experiencing sickness, economic difficulties, tragedy, even death. Temptation, in terms of such usage, is understood to be the trials referred to in 1 Peter 169. Actually, the temptation of which Paul speaks here is an inducement to sin, in this context the sin of presumption. To presume, or to have presumption, it "to behave with arrogance or without proper respect, to take something for granted." W's line of argument in the text follows from the fear, which he expresses in 927, of knowing the grace of God but still ending up disqualified at the end of the race.. He warns us not to presume upon God's grace, and yet uses the very same grace as The Escape from Presumption I. In spite of our sin, God's grace renews and changes our lives. A. God was gracious to the Israelites. 1. They were sinful people. Nowhere are we told that Israel deserved to be saved from the bondage of Egypt. 2. Yet God delivered them. Theirs was a select relationship as God graciously made them His own people (w 14). B. God is still gracious to us. 1. On account of our sins we deserve nothing but God's wrath and punishment. 2. But, as God saved Israel, He continues to cleanse us in the waters of Baptism and gives us to drink from the Rock in whom we have salvation (v 4). He graciously makes us His new Israel to live as such. 11. In spite of His grace, He punishes us when we live as if nothing is changed. A. It happened to the Children of Israel. Despite the fact that they were saved from Egypt to continue to be His covenant people, their sins wre a presump tion on God's grace (vv 7-10) and God punished them (v 5). B. We can presume upon God's grace. 1. By thinking that we are automatically in the kingdom of God by virtue of congregational membership (v 12). 2. By living as if grace is not always needed, a self-righteousness that denigrates the cross (Ga 2:21). 3. By, warst of all, claiming to be God's people, yet living completely other- wise (Mt 177). C. We can come under God's judgment. "These things are warnings for us." God still overthrows those who presume upon, if not spurn, His grace and live as if nothing needs change. III. In spite of our presumption, God is ready to forgive us and protect us against it. A. God knows how we are tempted to presume upon His grace. The text ends on a word of promise, rather than one of doom, as our human condition is understood (v 13). B. He gives us Christ as a way to escape. God's Son confronted the Tempter and won the victory. In Christ we have strength to fend off temptation, forgiveness when we do sin, the capacity to endure and remain as God's people- C. Thus we will not want to presume upon His grace. God is so good to us! Shall we presume upon the love of the One who is so gracious to us? No! By His grace we live as His changed children. Homiletical Studieb 291 Conclusion: The temptation is to presume upon God's grace. But we never need presume about God's grace. It is evident. It gives us escape from false presumption. It gives us daily victory in Christ. Luther G. Strasen Fort Wayne, Indiana THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT 1 Corinthians I:@ 22-25 March 9, BM Infroduaion: In our pluralistic society we are bombardel with all types of ideas as to whom to listen to next, how to run our lives, where to find satisfaction and how to be sure that we are in control. The advice is actually spiritual, though it certainly is not labeled as such, because it deals with the relationships we have with others (which have much in common with our prior relationship, or lack of such, with God). It is not always easy to sort out all the input as to whether it truly is in tune, if even helpful, for our Christian experience. It is probably easier to attach ourselves to some person or concept that appeals to us and promote whatever it is as being what best emprs our lives. The Apostle Wul was aware that 'Jle Corinthian Chris- tia.1~ were ~decting leadership and advice from all sides and that those who found what satisfied them were haughty and quarrelsome with those who did not have what was deemed the best (1 Cor. 1:lO-12). The apostle understood that such behavior and attitudes threaten the power of the cross of Christ (1:17), which is what truly best empowers us. Thus this text still instructs us as we live in the world in our day. What continues to be the best for us is Tbe hr of the Cross I. Fbmer is not found in human signs and wisdom. A. Signs and wisdom have always had high priority (v 22). I. The Jews demanded signs (Jn 2:18) and the Greeks sought wisdom, systems of philosophy guide one's destiny and keep life under control. 2. It is still so. The Shroud of Turin or the ruins of the ark are considered to be hith-authenticating. Astrology, "how to live" books, sects and their leaders are looked to for spiritual direction and power for daily living. B. But signs and wisdom are found wanting. 1. Signs do not work faith. The Jewish leaders saw Jesus' burial clothes and still did not believe. The apostles did not carry them about to con- vince people of Jesus' resurrection. Ark ruins do not make Christians. 2. All "w~om" is not true guidance. The "'me first" wllcept of these years inhibits good relationships. The depreciation of the nuclear family has harmed society. Sects last as long as their leaders. C. And those who seek and find inadequate signs and wisdom are perishing even as they think they are succeeding (v 18). 11. Fbmer is found in the cross of Christ. A. The Christ of the cross is God's power and wisdom (v 24). 1. The power that saves us when we are weak and faced with destruction (Ro 5:8-9). 2. The wisdom that presents God's grace to us in the midst of our sin and inability to save ourselves (Eph 2:8-9). B. The world discounts God's power. 1. It is a stumbling block. The Jews looked to the keeping of the Law, rath- er than the promise of the Messiah. It is still argued that the idea of God saving us takes away from the dignity achieved in saving ourselves by our own power in which we can boast (Eph 2:9). 292 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY 2. It is foolishness. The Greeks considered the resurrection to be absurd (Ac 17:32) and it is still attacked today. What is even regarded as more foolish is the undeserved forgiveness which God offers. Hw ridiculous it seems to forgive with open arms, with no vengeance, without even a period of testing repentance (Lk Ell-32)! It gives up our power over others. C. But to us the cross of Christ is the power and wisdom of God (w 24-25). 1. Its very hlishness and weakness defeats Satan and destmys the temr of death. 2. It restores the joy of forgiveness, the power to live for God and others, the certain hope of heaven. Conchion: The power of Christ crucified is for all people (v 24). Paul was caught up in the preaching of it. As it empowers us, we rejoice as God uses us to engage others in its power and wisdom that answers our deepest needs (Lk 15:24). Luther G. Strasen THE J?WlXI SUNDAY IN LENT Intmduction: Cheap grace and self-righteousness-neither of these gives glory to God, but they do bring into focus one of the paradoxes of the Christian faith. In Christ, we have perfect righteousness. All the perfection of Jesus Christ is imputed to the believer by faith. Yet this truth is never an occasion for complacency or indif- ference, but rather it spurs us on to ever greater conformity of life to confession. Although we are perfect in Christ we strive for perfection more and more each day. The Paradox of the Righteous I. Righteousness which we possess perfectly. A. Righteousness comes apart from the law. 1. The temptation exists to glory in one's awn accomplishments. "pedii," endurance (context). 2. These can never make or give perfect righteousness (v 9). 3. Rather they are counted as loss for the sake of Christ (v 8). B. Righteousness comes from God alone. 1. It is founded in God's actions, not our wn efforts (v 9). 2. It comes for the sake of Christ by grace through faith (v 9). 3. Although rightews in Christ, we strive for righteousness (v 13). II. Righteousness for which we strive. A. The righteous are aware of their own imperfection (lack of righteousness). 1. We are not perfect (w 12, 13). 2. We have comfort and assurance but am not complacent or indifferent (v 12). B. M press on, reaching for what lies ahead in Christ. I. Using the means by which God sustains us (vv 10, 11). 2. Fulfilling the purpose for which Christ has called us (v 14). Norbert Mueller Homiletical Studies 293 PALM SUNDAY Intmducrion: The text deals with servanthood, selfdenial, and obedience. These are all concepts repugnant to the flesh, but characteristic of vital Christian faith. On this Mm Sunday, we ponder again the servanthood of Christ in terms of his self-denial ad obedience as it reb to God's great redemptive purpose for the wwld. The Servant, Jesus Christ I. The Servant who denies Himself. A. Christ has a legitimate claim to deity. B. Christ humbles Himself. 1. He pours Himself out (v 7). 2. He takes on the form of a servailt (v 7). 11. The Servant who is obedient unto death. A. He dies the death of the cross (v 8). I. In fulfillment of all righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). 2. In fulfillment of God's prophetic promises of redemption (Mt 20:18; Lk 24:26, 27). B. His obedience makes possible the new creation (v 5). 1. Every knee will bow at the name of Jesus (v 10). 2. Every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord (v 11). 3. Everything redounds to the glory of God the Father (v 11). C. His servanthood becomes a model for our skanthood in the world (v 5). Norbert Mueller March 34 1986 Holy Wek is hectic for a pastor. Here, however, he may take heart. This text has nothing new or mcky in it. In kt, Paul indicates that he is going to tell his readers again, or remind them, of what he has preached to them before. Here is an- other chance to preach the Gospel-this time to assure the people of their resurrec- tion. And the preacher may bask in this Gospel himself and be fortified in his awn spirit so to proclaim: Christ is risen! Introduction: Christ is risen! I guarantee it! Such a bold statement might evoke this question: "What wwld become of me if He were not risen?" Well. if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins; and those who haw. fallen asleep in Christ are lost. In other words, if Christ did not rise From the dead, you and I are in deep, deep trouble (1 Cor. 15:17-19). But Christ is risen! It is with a great sense of relief and joy that we hear from God's Word the good news that 2W CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY bur Resdon Is Guaranteed I. W need this guarantee of our resurrection. In a world that is mwing East on an unstable course, we need something solid on which to hang our hopes. A. The Corinthians had somehow lost this fundamental teaching of the resur- rection. 1. Pdul had taught them about it as one of the foremost teachings of the Gospel, and they had accepted it. 2. ðing happened to raise doubts in their minds-the appearance of a teacher, perhaps, or some rationalization. B. W are not above forgetting or doubting it either. I. We have plenty of outside influences, such as the media, banging away at our faith. 2. W tend to forget because of our natural fear of dying. Since we talk little about death, why talk of rising from the dead? How many times have we stared at a corpse and wondered how it could ever live again? Transition: We need assurance; we want a guarantee that Christ lives and that we will live also. 11. The Gospel ofkrs this guarantee to us. A. The Gospel is a valid source. 1. Paul declares that he did not make it up. He had witnesses to the resur- rection: Fkter, the twelve, five hundred brothers, James, and finally, later on, Paul himself (w 5-8). 2. The Gospel has guaranteeing power. It assured Paul: "0 death where is your sting?. . ." (w 55-57). 3. The Gospel assures people today. The unbeliever resigns himself to deaib with an attitude of "whatever will be, will be." The believer assigns himself to God in the firm and real hope of rising again. Was not this the peace of our departed lwed ones who died in Christ? It works! B. The Gospel guarantees because of its content. Christ died and lives for us. 1. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (v 3). Isaiah had predicted that the Messiah wwld be led as a lamb to the slaughter. 2. Christ was buried (v 4). He was really dead. This makes the resurrec- tion more certain than if He had been dead for only an hour or so. 3. Christ was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. Psalm 16 stated: ': . .You will not abandon Me to the grave, nor will You let Your Holy One see decay.'' 4. Christ's resurrection is the center of our Christian faith, from which we gather our hope. III. The Spirit leads us to utilize this guarantee, A. To receive it in faith, regardless of our feelings. Luther states (What Luther Says, page 1215): "If you want to judge according to what you see and feel and, when the Word of God is set before you, want to pit your feeling against it and say: you tell me much; but my heart speaks a different language, and if you felt what I feel, you too would speak differently- then you do not have the Word of God in the heart but have quenched and extinguished it by your own thoughts, reason, and brooding. In short, if you will not let the Word mean more to you than all your feeling, eyes, senses, and heart, you must be lost, and there is no further help for you. Homiletical Studies 295 For we are concerned with an article of faith, not an article of your reason or wisdom or human power. Therefore you must judge solely according to the Word in this matter, irrespective of what you feel and see." B. To stand firm in fiiith. '.' . .This is what we preach, and this is what you believ- ed" (v 11). 1. We preach this message aver and over because the Gospel is the soil to which the roots of our faith cling. 2. The only way to remain confident of our resurrection is to remain sure of Christ's resurrection. 3. We live confidently. We live expecting a resurrection. We live as though there is a tomorrow. Conclusion: The Gospel guarantees our resurrection. We say with Job: "I know that my Redeemer lives;. . .in my flesh will I see God (Job 19:26-27). hell F. Thomas Fort Myers, Florida THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASIER Revelation 1:4-18 Verses 4-6 are a greeting and verses 5b-6 the doxology within the greeting. Verses 7-8 Martin Franzmann calls "a sort of introit" to the worship service of which the reading of the letter was to be a part. These verses are the theme song of the entire book. Rrse 7 speaks of the triumphal return of Christ, while in verse 8 the Lord speaks of Himself as the eternal and almighty one. Jesus supplies the power to en- dure patiently the tribulation which comes to all Christians & members of Christ's kingdom (v 9). Rrse 13 makes clear that the eternal Son is in the midst of His church as tribulations come. Although He now wears a human form, He is the glorified Messiah whose divine attributes are graphically described in verses 13-16. Verse 17 describes the reaction of a sinful human being to divine holiness, but also the great comfort given by Jesus Christ. Introddon: Most people believe in God, but what kind of God? God is known only through Jesus Christ. The text presents the fmt in a series of visions of the hrd God in the person of Jesus Christ. What a Lord We Have! I. He is above us. A. He is above us in dominion. 1. He, not Caesar (the emperor Domitian called himself "lord and god), is the hrd (v 13b). 2. He rules our wrld and the universe. B. He is above us in glory (vs 14, 15, 16). C. He is above us in holiness. (He has eyes from which nothing evil is hidden, feet that will pursue evil to punish it, and a mouth that judges all evil.) Tmnsition: A Lord who is so far above us can frighten us as he did John. But Christ came to John, touched him gently and said, "Fear not." He is not against us. 2% CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY 11. He is for us. A. Christ showed He is for us by dying f6r us (v 17). 1. The Eternal. the First and the Last, actually died. 2. He died to make atonement for our sins. B. He showed He is for us by rising from the dead (v 18). 1. He lives forever (Ro 6:9). 2. He has authority over death (v 18). W need not fear death. for Jesus went through it and conquelled it for us. Twition: He will support us with His power by being with us at the time of death, but everyday, right-. III. He is with us. A. He is with us in our tribulation. 1. Christ was with His suffering church then (v U). 2. He is still with His church, which may not be afflicted in the same way as was the church in John's day but which nevertheless is plagued with apathy, indi-nce, and lovelessness. B. He is with us to renew and stmngthen us. 1. Through the Wrd and Sacraments He mow us to repentance and firmer faith. 2. He supplies us with the endurance we need to wercome defeat and discouragement. Conclusion: In Christ we see what a Lord we have, one who is above us. for us, and with us. Gerhard Aho THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASIXR The preceding thought unit (vs 6-10) focuses on the Lamb, Christ, who brings and end to the weeping (hopelessness) of the world. By taking from the Creator the scroll on which the future of the church and of the world is written, He shows He has taken up His power and reign. This action evokes the oew song of praise, which continues in the text, praise that Christ has deemed all people. The text begins with the host of angels joining in the song of all creatures. This song of praise, focuses on Jesus Christ and on what He has done. Follcnving the text, the new chapter (6) begins with an account of the troubles to be loosed upon the world beforethe final consummation. The praise given to the Lamb in the text makes clear that in the midst of the troubles the Lamb is in control and that all creatures must eventual- ly acknowledge Him to be Redeemer and Lord. The song of praise climaxes with might and glory being ascribed to the Lamb alone and with all those singing His praises falling down in silent adoration. Idon: Wrship can be a humancentelled experience directed toward our own well-being and improvement, so that we become concerned only with our per- sonal returns in worship, with what we individually are going to get out of it. That is a misplaced emphasis in worship. From this obsession and preoccupation with ourselves our text would free us. The heavenly hosts by their action are saying to us: Homiletical Studies 297 Give Adomth to Jesus Christ I. Because He was slain for our redemption. A. His blood alone could redeem us. 1. We. could not ransom ourselves, and yet blood had to be shed (He 9:22). 2. His precioub blood had pawer to redeem, for He Himself was innocent (1 Pe 1:13:19; Eph I:? 1 Jn 17). B. Through His redeeming blood we have come into His kingdom (Re 5:lO). 1. This kingdom is hidden now. 2. It will finally be revealed and we will reign with Him. 11. Because He is the supreme Lord. A. The symbol of His supremacy is the throne (v 13). Jesus has been exalted (Php 2:9). B. His supremacy manifests itself (v 12). 1. He has all power (Mt 28:20). 2. He has all wealth (2 Cor 8:9; Eph 3:8). 3. He has all wisdom (1 Cor 1:24; 1 Cor 1:30). 4. He has all might (Jn 10:18) (resurrection). C. He is to be worshipped as the supreme Lord (v 13). 1. Everything on the earth, under it, and above it praises Him (R 148). 2. There is satisfaction in acknowledging God in Jesus Christ for who and what He is. We. do this well in such canticles as the Te Deum Laudamus. Conclurim: When we focus on God we will be helped. When we adore Christ we will be built up. So let us not only wail our litanies and cry our petitions. Let us also learn the language of praise. There is something mysterious, beautiful, and uplifting taking place when we with the four living cmtures say, "Amen," and MI down and worship Jesus Christ. GeM Ah0 THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EA!nER April 24 1986 Whenever we confess the third article of the Apostles Creed, we are responding to the future reality &ed in John's Revelation. In this pericope we have a pro- jeded glimpse ofthe "Hdy Christian Church" triumphant. The "tingiveness of sins" qualifies the church for white robes and pmvides the purity they symbolize. Those standq before the throne have experienced the "resurrection of the body." This is a clear vision of "life everlasting" for which the church on earth awaits eagerly. Care must be taken by the pmcher so that he does not get carried away with what is "up there" at the expense of what is "dawn here" now for the believer's comfort and strength. After all, the Book of Rerelation is prwided for the blessing of believers on earth. The church in glory lives in fulfilment of this vision, and so shall we. The Shepherd who became a Lamb dominates the vision and, of course, should dom- inate the sermon. Introdrrction: Whenever we begin a trip, we usually have some destination in mind. We. picture in our minds the country through which we will pass, what we will be able to see when we arriye, and who will be there to meet us. We try to k;an the CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY activities which will occupy us while we are there. Sometimes our plans work, oth- er times not. When Jesus the Good Shepherd invites us to follow Him, He is leading us on a path that will finally end in heaven. None of us has been there, but we are anxious to get there because of John's vision of what it is like there. "We want to be in that number when the saints go marching in." John gives us a glimpse of what is in store for us when The Saints Alive Arrive in Heaven I. They are united, though once divided. A. The divisions in this life are obvious. 1. Boundaries are drawn according to nation, tribe, people, and language (v 9). 2. Even Christians are divided into denominations. B. The one fold about which Jesus talked (Jn 10) will be a reality. 1. The confession of men and angels are united (w 10. 12). 2. Through this confession the boundaries dissolve. 3. Because of this unity, the number is amazingly large (v 9). 4. We can begin now to praise God for the unity of all believers in Christ. Tmnsition: "Who are these people?" the elder asks. 11. They are victorious, though once defeated. A. The saints in heaven have been confronted by the defeat of sin and tribulation. 1. Sin is like a polluted garment. It disqualifies one for heaven. The residents of heaven were once sinners, just as we are. 2. We must through many tribulations, great and small, enter the kingdom of God. What are our trials? B. God provides their victory. 1. He gives His Lamb's blood, in which believers wash their robes (v 14). "The Blood ofJesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin" (1 Jn IT). 2. The same grace assures us that nothing will be able to separate us from God and His lwe (Ro 8:38-39). God strengthens us so that we keep the upper hand wer our troubles. C. "Salvation belongs to our God. . .and the Lamb" (v 10). 1. This heavenly song is our confession and our hope. Our victory does not rest in our hands. 2. Sin and tribulation are temporary. God will give us the victory, too. Tmnsirion: Life on earth is difficult. When we join the saints in heaven we will be forever delivered. III. They are secure, though once afraid. A. The opposite of faith is fear. Sometimes our faith begins to buckle under the strains in life. 1. Thirst, the sun at noon, and scorching heat (Florida in August) repre- sent the whole gamut of life-threatening enemies (v 16). 2. It is our nature to put off as long as we can the "walk through the valley of the shadow of death" (Ps 23). Even artificial hearts are broken. B. God provides security. 1. In heaven God will spread His tent wer His people with this declaration to all our foes: "Never again!" (v 16). 2. The Lamb of God will be the Shepherd to give "living water." Compare this water to the medicine that makes a disease go away, never to come again. Homiletical Studies 299 3. We shall have no more tears. When God wipes a tear, that is the end of them. Conclusion: Let us not wait until we die to enjoy the gifts of this vision. By faith in Christ we can draw on the strength of our unity with all believers, the victory Christ won for us, and the security we have in Ciod's power. Well F. Thomas Fort Myers, Florida THE FIiiTH SUNDAY OF EA!TIER April 27, 1986 Revelation 21:l-5 The first verse of the text immediately confronts us with the concept of newness. While exegetes disagree as to whether God will annihilate the present world or merely redo it, it seems to this writer that the Biblical language used in various places does not Eavor the idea of the earth being rebuilt. Suffice it to say, hawever, that the "new heaven and new earth" will be radically different from the present one. While the "new Jerusalem" is mentioned in verse 2 ofthe text, that concept is dealt with more fully in the text for next Sunday (6. v 10K.). This text gives God's people a vision of what He has prepared for them so that they might be encouraged in their good fight of faith until they receive the crown of life. The problem is that our limited vision in an evil world so easily causes us to become discouraged in and side-tracked from the Lord's work. Introduction: "Futurists" are people employed by large corporations or govern- mental agencies to analyze the past and present, evaluate their findings, and project what they feel is likely to happen in the years to come. Thank God, He has given His church a "futurist" - the Apostle John, who by inspiration of the Spirit gives us a peek into our eternal future. As he nears the end of his revelation in our text, John urges our highest anticipation: Hallelujah! Look Ahead! I. Look to a new order. A. The present heaven and earth shall pass away (v 1; I Pe 3:7, lob, 12). B. The new order is coming. 1. In his vision John sees it as accomplished (v la). 2. It is created by God (v 5a). It is the same God who created our world at the beginning of time. 3. Even nature itself looks forward to it (Ro 8:22-23). 11. Look to a close relationship. A. God dwells with men (v 3). B. It is a covenant of Iwe. 1. His people. a. It is the opposite of the natural status (1 Pe 2:lO). b. It is made possible by the sacrifice of the Lamb (1 Pe 1:19). 2. Their God-it recalls the Old Testament covenant with Israel (Eze n26-27). C. It is an untroubled relationship. 1. Whatever his age, each of us can recall his own troubles. (The preacher 300 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY can say to his heare,rs, "Think of two things that cause you anxiety or sorrow. What was it that last caused you to 'cry your heart out'?") 2. Heaven is free of these and all other troubles. Our lwiag Lord will removealltearsandeverything~veinthenewl~in~(v4; Ro 8:21). He will remwe them permanently-ban them (v 4). W shall have glorified bodies. Satan, the ultimate source of evil, will be forever banished. Pain is a warning of so- wrong; in heaven mthmg will be wrong. III. Look ahead in jvs anticipation. A. It is joyous because it is sure. 1. God promised; He does not lie (v 5; 2 Cor 1:20, 2 Re 3:13). 2. The "proof' is our Imrnanuel, Jesus. B. It is joyous because the vision sustains us. 1. The axiom is this: You can endure nearly anything bra while (e.g. Job, 1 Fk 1:7-9). 2. Redation was written to encourage the church of Jesus to li~ and witness confidently under fire. 3. Your joyous anticipation will sustain you as your faith is quedomd, your Christian life challenged, and your trust in the Lord tested. Conclusion: Lie the early Christians, God has placed us on planet earth-in the midst of trouble, heartache, and persecution-for a while. But you belong to the risen, living Christ. Do not be diswuraged, dismayed, or derailed. ahead to what is coming-a new order, an inseparable relationship with Christ Himself. Live and rmrk in joyous anticipation of it! Lloyd strelow nstin, Calm THE SIXTH SUNDAYOF EASrW Revelation 21:Sl4, 22-23 Our people are increasingly exposed to a stmng dose of "- Mogy, especially regarding the end times. While this text insists that the preacher correct false notions, he must do it with lwe and care, lest he merely "blast the opposition" and hil to edify the hearer. The text is full of important, f@rative laqguage describ'i the "church triumphant." It is the great climax, where God's children by faith in the Lamb will reach the goal for which He came-ekrnal bliss with Him as their pride, joy and glory. What a fitting theme as we anticipate His ascension! Int&rion: Every religious body has its "sacd sites," its "holy places." One site considered sacred to several religions is Jerusalem. In our text we are instructed about Jerusalem in a way that may surprise, but will edify you. Our text presents The Holy City-Tbe Church in Heaven I. Its origin. A. The church is from heaven. God is it creator (v lob; v 2; Is 65:17-18; He U:lO). B. The church is built of spiritual relationships. 1. It stands in contrast to the kingdoms of the rmrld shown to Jesus (Mt 4:8; 6. v 10). Homiletical Studies 301 2. Scripture affirms its spiritual nature (as the bride, the Lamb's wife, v 9; 2217; Ga 4:26; He 12:22-23). C. niistnrthdestroysalleJrpeccationsofthe&afaciradelorcityinIsrael. 11. Its cootent. A. The New Jerusalem is big enough to hold all believers (note the wall, v 12; Re 7:9). B. The holy city is for believers (note the gates and the twelve bibes, WE-13; Re 7:4; 6. also Ro 2:28-29; Ro ll:26; He ll:16; Re 2234). C. The New Jemdem is built on the fcmdation of the Mlve spades of the Lamb (v 14). They lived with the Iamb, saw Him sacdiced for sin, and staked their lives on Him. m. rts focus. A. Its focus is not a physical building. 1. The temple in Jerusalem was the focal point of contact between Gad and His people in the Old Testament (cf. Ex 23:7; Dt 125). 2. The temple was desecrated (Lk 19:454T) by Gal's people and destroyed in 70 AD. B. Its focus is God. 1. The Almighty Father, laving Lord of all, who gave us His Son (Ro 8: 32; v a). 2. The Iamb Himself, glorified, enthroned with the Father (v 22b). B. Its focus is th~ event ofthe ages. 1. It is better than any Hollywood extraMganza or presidential iaaugural. 2. The glory of God upon whom the heavenly church focuses is so bright that it eliminates any need for such earthly illumination as sun and moon (v 23). Note the glory of the city described in verses 18-21. Conclusion: This holy city, this New Jerusalem, is our future, eternal home. By God's grace in Christ, the church on earth is ushered into God's presence to become Hi church in heaven. Therefore, do not become entrapped by those who twist Scrip ture and get their followers all excited about the political resurgence of a nation, the "masswnvmion" ofthe Jews, andthephVsical~ofaternpleinJerusalem on earth. Rather rejoice that in His great lave, Christ is building His church in hesrven of ancients and moderns. Jews and Gentiles, Palestinians and A~nericaos--of all who look to the Lamb for pardon and long to be with Him in the-holy city, the New Jerusalem, the church in heaven. Lloyd Strelaw May 11, John in exile on the island of Patmos concludes his letter to the seven churches with a promise that Jesus is coming again soon. The believers, torn by false teachers and temptations from within and increasing persecution from without. welcome the coming of Jesus with courage for the present and hope for an eternal dwellihg in the city of God. Intmfdon: Thursday we celebrated the Ascension of our Lord. As the disciples gazed into the heavens, the tw men in white explained: "This same Jesus who was 302 CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL QUARTERLY taken up into heaven will come in the same way that you have seen Him go into heaven." We still live in the time between Ascension Day and the Second Coming of Christ. As we prepare to celebrare Pentecost next week and face the daily pressures of living in a secular world, St. John in the Book of Revelation directs us to The Coming Again of Our Ascended Lord I. His announcement (w 12-16, 20a). A. Death to unbelievers (v 13). 1. Jesus strongly asserts His coming again as bringing recompense. To the "dogs" and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, His coming means life forever outside the gates of the city of God. They con- tinue in sin and reject the announcement. 2. Jesus likewise speaks judgment to our sinful, secular world. To the ex- tent that we succumb to false teachers and immorality, we stand in dan- ger of rejecting His announcement. We confess our blindness. B. Life to believers (vv 14. 16, 17b). 1. Jesus graciously offers robes washed in His blood and water without price (Is 55). The persecuted believers are preserved for eternal life in the city of God by Christ, the bright morning star, the root and offspring of David. 2. Jesus graciously offers us His cleansing forgiveness as the Son of David, crucified and risen. We can be preserved from this sinful, secular world as we look to Him. 11. Our invitation (w 17, 20b). A. The Spirit, the bride, and the believer invite Jesus to come and supply cour- age now. 1. The persecuted invite Jesus to come and in the process receive living water to strengthen them for faithful ministry. 2. We likewise stand strong as we invite His early return; we are refreshed. B. The church invites Jesus to come and supply hope for the future. Conclusion: What a joyful announcement from Jesus! What an eager invitation from our lips-power for living from the coming again of our ascended Lord! Stephen J. Carter PENTECOST Acts 2:37-47 May 18, 1986 After the Lord's final instructions to the disciples to be witnesses. His promise of power from the Holy Spirit, and His ascension into heaven, the disciples wait prayerfully in Jerusalem. On Pentecost the Spirit fills the house where they are gathered. Jews from many nations hear the Gospel message. Peter preaches a powerful Law and Gospel sermon which culminates in the words of the text. The Jerusalem fellowship of believers in Jesus Christ is initiated with the baptism of three thou- sand. The fellowship gmws in both quantity and quality. Introduction: Pentecost is an annual feast in the Christian church year and pro- vides important emphasis on the Holy Spirit, described by one author as the "half- known God." But, more significanlty, Pentecost is an opportunity for you to mwe Homiletical Studies 303 back in time and stand in that notable assembly of Jews from around the world where, spellbound by Peter, the big fisherman, you experience The Pbwertul EflFects of a Plentecost Message I. The Pentemst message cuts to the heart (v 37). A. The Jewish hearers recognized their own guilt in Peter's account of the re- jection of Jesus Christ. They cried out, "What shall we do?" B. We recognize our awn guilt as our hearts are sometimes hardened to the weekly message of Jesus Christ. II. The Pentecost message brings forgiveness of sins thrwgh baptism (w 3841). A. The Jewish hmrs were transhrmed by Peter's description of the crucified and risen Christ and were baptized. B. W hear again the message of the crucified and risen Christ and apply the power of our baptism to daily living (the gift of the Holy Spirit promised to us who are far off, w 38-39). m. The Pentecost message creates a dynamic fellawship of believers (w 4247). A. The early believers joined in regular worship and study of the Word (w 42, 46, 47). Despite our times of indifference to the Word, the Pentecost message creates in us a desire for regular reception of Word and sacraments through wrship and Bible study. B. The early believers joined in meeting physical and spiritual needs (w 4345). They formed a common treasury and shared bread in their homes. Despite our selfishness and individualism, the Pentecost message creates in us a de- sire to reach out to others to meet theiu physical and spiritual needs. C. The early believers joined in &-anddeed witness through which the Lord added to their number (v 4%). Despite our self-absorption and timidity, the Pentecost message creates in us the desire and the ability to witness in word and deed so that the Lord may add to our fellowship those who are being saved. Conclusi~: Because we have been present at Pentecost to hear Peter, the Holy Spirit cuts us to our hearts, brings assurance of Christ's forgiveness through bag tism, and gives us the privilege to participate in a dynamic fellowship of believers- worshipping, meeting needs, and witnessing to others. . .These are the powerful ef- fects of a Pentecost message! Stephen J. Carter