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Sermon for September 30, 2018, Sermon Series: The Creed

The Apostles’ Creed: A Sermon Series (Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost)

Second Article: “Our Redeemer Has Made Us His Own”

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield CT

September 30, 2018

 

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

          Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, is my Lord, “who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil” for a purpose. Jesus, true God and true Man, has become “my Lord” for a specific reason. The purpose and reason is this: “that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness” (SC Second Article, Explanation).

          What would keep us from being God’s own and living under Him and His Lordly and Fatherly care? Sin, death, and the devil. These are the very things that Jesus Christ redeemed and purchased us from by means of His “holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.”

          Consider our “old” reality when we were not “His own.” We were separated from God because of our sinful condition. Sin caused a “dividing wall of hostility” to be erected between humanity and our Creator (Eph. 2:4). Our sinful condition, falling short of the glory of God, makes us enemies of God. Romans 8:7, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” Because of sin, all people die physically and spiritually, for “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). All humanity is under the tyranny and the slavery of sin, death, and the devil who seeks our eternal destruction. As such, we all stood under the wrath and judgment of God as we read in Ephesians 2, “. . . we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph. 2:3 ESV).

          Take a look at human history. It has often been characterized by selfishness, hatred, and violence. Take a look at your own personal history. Do we not see in ourselves a history of selfishness and hatred, a failure to fear, love, and trust in God above all things? Despite all the advances in science and technology, humanity has not been able to overcome these inherent problems that plague the human race. No, this “old reality” is far too strong to be overcome by human ability and intellect. In fact, under the power of sin and Satan, there is actually no desire to overcome it, but rather to revel in and to live under it. “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit” (Gal. 5:17 ESV).

          What was to become of us, lost and condemned people? Eternal death and hell would have been our ultimate reality if not for the gracious mercy and undeserved favor of God our Father. 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” God our Father has created a new reality for us in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.

          Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, paid the entire penalty of our sin and guilt with His death on the cross. The wondrous words of 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21 ESV). By His death on the cross in our place, Jesus endured the wrath of God toward all sinners. His death appeased the wrath of God and met its full requirements so that we are now reconciled to God once again. 2 Corinthians 5:19, “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” Jesus’ atoning death on the cross has then destroyed the power of sin to enslave us. Words that we will hear on Reformation Sunday, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (Jn. 8:34-36 ESV).

          Having defeated sin, Satan, and death itself by His own death and resurrection, Christ brings us once again to our heavenly Father. Jesus’ life, His suffering, death, and glorious resurrection have overcome everything that would keep us from our Father in heaven, all that would keep us away from His Lordly and Fatherly care. As Dr. Robert Kolb put it, “I am his own. He has put me back in the Father’s lap.”[1] To be “His own” describes a new reality for us which has been created as the result of the actions “finished” by Jesus Christ who has become “my Lord.” Jesus Christ died in order to make us His own and to enable us to live under Him and to serve Him. Our salvation and all our happiness rest on Jesus Christ our Lord who set us free from sin, death, and the power of the devil in order to live under His care and to serve Him and others.

          So, as good students of the Catechism, we ask, “What does this mean?” What does this look like for us in our daily lives?

          To begin with, we are new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). The “old” reality has been torn down and a “new” reality has been put in place by the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of the Son of God-made-flesh. God’s re-creative Word has restored and reconciled us with the heavenly Father. That dividing wall of hostility has been torn down as surely as the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom on Good Friday when Jesus gave up His life into death for our sins (Matt. 27:51). Through the Word of the Gospel and by means of water and the Word in Holy Baptism, you have been given saving faith in Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, so that you each confess Him to be “my Lord.” This gift of faith by the work of the Holy Spirit re-created you in Christ to be new creations, and more specifically, children of God. 1 John 3:1, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God, and we are.” Paul fleshes it out in Galatians 4, “In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal. 4:3-7 ESV).

          Being God’s children through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior means that you and I are the inheritors of life eternal. Our sins are forgiven, removed from us as far as the east is from the west by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ (Psalm 103:12). We are no longer slaves of sin, Satan, or death. You are united with Christ so that He is yours and you are His. You now live under God’s rule and care in security and peace. God is relaxed with us. When we do experience and encounter sin in ourselves, we confess it. “We lay it on Jesus.” In faith, we receive the joyous exchange of His innocence for our sinfulness as we hear the forgiveness of sins pronounced upon us “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Relaxed with ourselves, we can then relax in meeting the needs of those around us as we love and show mercy to people.[2]

          In other words, through faith in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, with sins forgiven, we are free from sin, Satan, and death to serve our Lord without fear and without defensiveness. We can display what is right to our neighbors because we are confident in the rightness, innocence, and salvation which the Father has given us in Christ through the Spirit.[3] “He has brought back peace, which enables us to live in harmony with those around us and meet their needs through joyful—even when painful—Christian service. For we are confident—even in the midst of all trial, trouble, turbulence, trauma, and tragedy—that he is risen from the dead and is in charge of everything from now to all eternity.”[4]

You and I, in the power of the Gospel, serve Jesus as those who belong to Him and live under Him in His kingdom. We are no longer under the tyranny and power of Satan, sin, and death. We are free to serve our Lord in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness before our Father in heaven. And that service to our Lord takes place in this world, among the people of this world who have both physical and emotional needs as well as the greatest need to hear the Good News of Jesus who is Lord of all. But in this life, as we live and serve the Lord, we do so in the face of the enemies of Christ and His Church (albeit defeated enemies). That’s why then, as children of God in Christ, we also look forward to the time when these enemies will no longer harass and hinder us from serving our Lord Christ with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves. We look forward in faith to when we will be “always with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17).

In this Christian faith, we believe and confess that Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, is our Lord. He redeemed us from sin, death, and the devil with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death. Christ has truly made His own so that we really do now live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness as we love and serve our neighbors in Jesus’ name. This is most certainly true. Amen.

[1] Robert Kolb, “’That I May Be His Own’: The Anthropology of Luther’s Explanation to the Creed,” Concordia Journal 21 (January 1995): 36, accessed September 25, 2018. http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=4&sid=c2a93158-6b66-42f5-aa0a-38fc0d091c83%40sessionmgr120.

[2] Robert W. Kolb, Teaching God’s Children His Teaching (St. Louis: Concordia Seminary Press, 2012), 95.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.


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