Sermon for June 3, 2012

Isaiah 6:1-8 (The Holy Trinity/Confirmation—Series B)

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT

June 3, 2012

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Our text is the Old Testament Lesson from Isaiah 6: 

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

            Soli Deo Gloria!  This is a Latin phrase that means “To God Alone Be Glory.”  That phrase should be familiar to you, since it appears at the end of the order of service in our worship folder each week.  Soli Deo Gloria is a reminder to all of us that every aspect of our lives is meant to bring glory to God alone.  Our greatest service to our Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is a life of faith in Jesus Christ marked by praise to the Lord, a life lived for the glory of God.  In the words of the apostle Paul, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1Cor. 10:31)

            Sounds like a pretty impossible task.  Does how I speak to my wife and my children always abound with praise to the Lord and bring Him glory?  Quite often my words to them are an embarrassment to God.  Do my actions toward my family and friends always abound with praise and give God the glory?  Far from it!  They most often seek to bring glory and praise to myself!  What about my thoughts, known only to God, do they always drip with praise and glorify the Lord?  I better just leave that one alone because I fail there as well.

            Why is it that my thoughts, words, and deeds do not always abound with praise to my Lord and give all the glory to God?  Why is it that your thoughts, words, and deeds fail as equally as mine do to bring praise and glory to God alone?  The prophet Isaiah speaks for all of us in our text this morning, giving the reason why:  “Woe to me!  For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” 

            Having unclean lips doesn’t mean that we didn’t brush our teeth or rinse with Scope mouthwash or have chocolate all over them.  Being a person of unclean lips means being a person with an unclean heart and soul.  Jesus said to the Pharisees in Matthew 12, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  What makes up the abundance of our hearts but sin?  Jesus says to us in Matthew 15, “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.  These are what defile a person.” 

            It is the defilement that sin causes that keep us from praising the Lord and giving all the glory to Him.  It is sin that fills us with selfishness and greed to take the praise and glory for ourselves.  Our words and actions speak volumes, “Look at how great I am!  Look at all the good things I’ve done.  Look at me, world, and take note!”  While you and I might impress other people with our selfish pride and self-glorification, we certainly do not impress God.  And if you want to stand before God, impress Him you must!  What is it, then, that would impress God enough for you and I to stand before His holy presence without fear of wrath, condemnation, and death?  Psalm 24:3-4 tells us, “Who shall stand in [the Lord’s] holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” 

            Who does leave out?  It excludes Isaiah, you, and me.  “Woe to me!  I am doomed!  I am a man of unclean lips!”  A sinful person cannot praise God with pure lips because our sin makes itself known from our lips and our mouths.  Along with Isaiah, we long to praise God and give Him the glory as did the angelic seraphim who sang “Holy, holy, holy!”  But because of our sinful depravity, we can’t!  Those whose natures are full of sin cannot praise God as they should.  Nor can we stand before the King, Yahweh of hosts, the Lord of the heavenly armies.  Our sinfulness condemns us to face God’s hot anger and wrath at our sins.  We are to be eternally lost, sentenced to death and hell.  “Woe to me!”

            Let us go back a moment again to Psalm 24.  “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?  And who shall stand in his holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.”  We know that this is not Isaiah.  It is not you or me.  Who then can stand before God?  Listen as the Psalm continues, “Lift up your heads, O gates!  And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.  Who is this King of glory?  The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!  Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.  Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!”

            The One who did battle with sin, Satan, and death itself is the One who stands pure and holy before the heavenly throne of God.  The Lord of the heavenly armies Himself left those armies and took on human flesh in order to live a pure and holy life in humanity’s place.  Jesus Christ, very God of very God, led a pure and holy life for you and me.  Jesus did what we cannot do.  He acted in our place under God’s Law and fulfilled it for us.  Then, Jesus took sinful, unclean humanity’s place under God’s wrath and judgment against sin.  He bore our sins in His body on the tree of the cross. (1 Peter 2:24)  He suffered hell itself on the cross, being forsaken by God.  Jesus shed His holy, precious blood to make atonement for our sin, taking away our guilt.  “The blood of Jesus [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1Jo 1:7)

            Who then shall stand in the Lord’s holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart—Isaiah, you, and me!  The necessary sacrifice has been made.  Our guilt is taken away, our sin atoned for by the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross.  You are made clean in the blood of Jesus in order to stand before the Lord in righteousness and holiness forever.  Jesus’ death and His Easter resurrection won the fight against Satan, sin, and death.  In Christ, you have the forgiveness of sins.  You are rescued from death and the devil.  You have been given eternal life.  Now we can praise God and glorify Him as we should!

            Through the Word of God’s Law, we have been made aware of our own sin and unworthiness  to stand before the Lord.  In the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ we are then shown how much God does love us—so much so that He sent His only Son to die on a cross so that we might live.  When we know and realize the magnitude of our sins and just how great the gift of forgiveness and eternal life is that we have freely received, we cannot but help respond with hearts and lips cleansed by Jesus’ blood with praise and glory to God!  It is no longer, “Look at me, world!  Look what I have done.”  Rather, it is “Look at Christ, world!  Look what God has done for you through the gift of His Son!  Behold, your guilt is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.  You stand before God righteous and holy for the sake of Jesus Christ.  There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:1) 

            Jacob, today as you are Confirmed in the holy Christian faith in which you were baptized, you stand without fear and with much joy before the Lord Himself at His altar.  You confess before Him, and His people gathered here, that you believe in the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—one God in three persons.  You acknowledge that your heavenly Father loved you so much that He send His Son Jesus to be your Savior and your Friend.  Today, for the first time, you will eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus with the bread and the wine for forgiveness, life, salvation, and the strengthening of your baptismal faith.  Along with your family, and your church family, I celebrate God’s goodness and grace in your life, especially for giving you faith in Jesus in your Baptism.  I am so very proud of you for all the hard work you put in your Confirmation lessons.  You did an awesome job learning the things God wants you to know about Him and His Word.  So stand as a confident child of God today and give Him all praise and glory as you confess His saving name. 

            Because of the Father’s gift of His Son Jesus Christ you are all cleansed from all your sins.  You now have clean hearts and clean lips to stand before your Lord and God without fear.  You are enabled by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to live the life of faith in Jesus Christ, a life marked by praise to the Lord, a life lived all for the glory of God.  For this great love and great grace of God, in the words of the ancient Te Deum, “We praise Thee, O God; we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.  All the earth doth worship Thee, the Father everlasting.  To Thee all angels cry aloud, the heavens and all the powers therein; To Thee cherubim and seraphim continually do cry: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth!  Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of Thy glory.” Amen.


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