Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
Multiple times throughout Israel’s history the stiff necked people would waver back and forth between truly worshipping God and using God to support their own demonic beliefs. They had amazing good kings who were devout and faithful rulers such as King David, but they also had incredibly evil rulers, the most evil, I would say, would be the witch called Jezebel. This is the history of Israel, for its name sake is “Wrestle with God,” and this is exactly what they have done throughout all of history.
In our first lesson, Israel is once again having a fit with God. For you see Amos, a simple shepherd though not a prophet, has been given the task of providing a divine message to Israel. You see, Israel was at that time flourishing with a vibrant economy. The country was rich beyond belief, and its government was incredibly stable. They as well as the southern kingdom, Judah, were blessed, though not by God. For you see, Israel had turned away from God and was persecuting Jews and had raised for themselves their own golden calf. Yet despite their persecution and downright evil practices, they convinced themselves into believing that their good fortune and wealth was a sign that God was blessing them and encouraging their bad conduct.
As Israel prospered in their decadence they drowned themselves in gluttonous drunkenness, filling their bellies with new wine and fattened lambs, laughing the whole time as they
knowingly allowed, even encouraged, the tribes that descended from the line of Joseph to burn. The very people who enjoyed the prosperity of their gluttonous behaviors did so because they were obtaining their wealth by oppressing the Jewish tribes that dared stand up to the atrocities of the ungodly. The people of God who stood up for the Lord were soundly oppressed as they were not accepting of the extravagant golden calf, and through their oppression the ones who lauded the calf grew rich and powerful.
Thus, it is safe to say, God was not blessing these evil elitists who stuffed their faces with the misery of faithful citizens. No, God cursed them. Why in the world would God bless anyone
who breached the divine covenant contracted between Him and His people? There is no contract, for if one party breaks the agreement then there is no agreement that the other party must follow. Israel breached its agreement with God and had to suffer the consequences.
Yet, the filth that ruled over Israel had the brazened idea that they, they who persecuted the people of God, were favored by God. What twisted mental gymnastics do you have to go through to believe that God is going to bless you when you cause destruction and persecution on those who have sound faith in Him alone? Again, the reason why Israel was stable and flourishing was because they scapegoated and were putting to ruin the tribes of Joseph. There was no grievance, pain, guilt, or shame in their hearts; only anger and malicious glee as they tortured God’s truly faithful.
In their minds, the wealth they possess was all the proof they needed to believe that they were blessed by God; such an evil and atrocious belief that comes out of the camps of demons! Yes, it is true that God blesses and through His blessing some become
prosperous. However, this does not mean that being prosperous is guaranteed proof that God is blessing you, for what if you personally obtained your wealth through ill-gain and then use it to continue practicing evil? God does bless some with wealth, but not all wealth comes from God.
Now, I don’t know if the Israelites whom Amos was addressing actually believed their nonsense, but, looking at the Americans today who actually and truly believe the blasphemous teaching that God supports the LBGT agenda and murdering unborn children, I can understand how some malicious Israelites have convinced themselves otherwise. Regardless, it is obvious that the Judaic community did not learn its lesson. You would think that after God punished all of Israel and Judah that this nasty belief that prosperity was proof of God’s blessing would have been washed from the psyche of the generations that followed. Wrong. Instead it persisted and grew in power as the belief started to infect the Judaic camps of the chief elders and nobler society.
Love of money persisted, and even twisted the theology of the times, to the point that scripture was flipped on its head as many started to once again belief that the richer you were the more likely you would enter into heaven. This was a nasty belief that Jesus had to counter, and as such a belief would naturally lead people away from His saving grace. For if people actually believed that their wealth was a measure of how saved they were then such behavior would lead people towards working their way into heaven as they amass for themselves gluttonously more and more. Eventually people would either walk away in misery due to their perceived or actual poverty or they would persecute and steal from each other all in the game of monopolizing wealth.
Neither is safe. It all boils down to this - you cannot save yourself into heaven, only Jesus Christ can save you.
This was the lesson Jesus was trying to tell everyone, but to many, in order to reach this goal, Jesus had to first dismantle the nauseous beliefs surrounding prosperity. Our parable is one of many lessons Jesus gave to tear down the mansion of self gratifying salvation. Imagine a table filled with luscious food, a fat, rich man gluttonously filling his belly with food, and a paper-thin poor man under the table picking up crumbs to eat. If one was to go to heaven and one to hell who would go up and who would go down? This was a challenging picture for prosperity because whereas the rich man should obviously go to Heaven on account of his riches, again their belief; this picture did not sit well with them, and it shouldn’t. The answer did not come easily to them, so Jesus spelled it out and explained why Lazarus was in Heaven and why the rich man was burning in Hell.
Again, multiple times Jesus provided parable after parable and lesson after lesson imploring that the cultural attitude regarding salvation through wealth was all wrong and that no amount of selfish self-gratification will ever win you the keys to Heaven, but that faith alone in Jesus Christ and His merciful sacrifice through the cross is the only way into heaven.
Now, today it may seem crazy to believe that people could save themselves by amassing wealth or to believe that the amount of wealth they possess directly correlates with the strength of their faith, but there are a multitude of false prophets out there in America alone who have created mega churches that preach this very blasphemous teaching. Oh how I feel sorry for the little sheep of God’s flock who attends these churches and do
not know that their wolf-in-sheep-clothing conmen of a pastor are leading them down a dangerous road known as prosperity gospel. Among Lutheran pastors alike, even ELCA pastors, we are united against these charismatic preachers, calling them out as blasphemous false preachers, while instructing in our seminaries that these are the type of pastors we do not want. Famous examples of Prosperity Gospel pastors who actually teach works alone through wealth and disparage the minds of worshippers by telling the masses that if someone suffers of lack then that is proof that his or her faith is not strong enough includes Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, etc. I don’t even dare call them pastors, but they are definitely demons wearing human skin. On top of preaching that prosperity is proof of one’s salvation, they all also preach indulgence, though an even more wicked version of indulgence commonly acknowledged of the Renaissance Era. Their form of indulgence is that if someone is financially struggling, which is proof of one’s faith, then if he or she gives indulgence personally to the preacher then his or her faith will be strengthened and through such wealth will increase. This is why these demonic preachers are also conmen. Now, whereas I am not a fan of using Wikipedia, I do have to say that its title description of Prosperity Gospel Theology is accurate. They state that Prosperity Theology is the belief that “financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one's material wealth. Material and especially financial success is seen as a sign of divine favor.” What difference is there between the belief of the Israeli who persecuted the Jews during the times of Amos, the beliefs of the
common prosperity Jew during the times of Jesus, and these prosperity gospel preachers? I see none.
The problem they all face is that they are gluttonous and suffer from love of money, and due to their sinful tendencies they have fallen into the temptation of altering scripture to fit their own voracious agenda. Do they not understand that salvation is only found through Jesus Christ and on account of nothing we do but wholly on account of everything Jesus has already done, so long as have faith which is provided for us only through the Holy Spirit, that we are most definitely saved? The poor who believe are just as equally saved as the rich who believe. The amount of wealth and how well accomplished is meaningless with regards to one’s salvation. To think such is complete vanity. In fact, the one who hates wealth and is thus not personally tied down by it but instead selflessly looks out for the needs of others is more likely to be saved than he who loves wealth.
In the end, beware the ravenous gullet of gluttony and all its malicious temptations. Instead, worship the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross for all people, asking for faith alone. And know this, compared to the absolute richest person who has walked the earth, not even they can pale in comparison to the endless joy and happiness and true wealth of those in Heaven possess.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, give us hearts that focuses not on our own financial state, whether fortunate or otherwise, but looks upon you above alone. In your heavenly name we pray: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Sermon 10/09/22 "Citizenship" by: Pastor Chris Boyd
Amos 8: 4-7
1 Timothy 2: 1-8
St. Luke 16: 1-17
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
In the past I have been asked multiple times, with regards to voting, “Who should I vote for?” Even by members of this congregation. Now whereas it is easy for me to answer that question, and even more easy as a pastor of a strong religiously conservative denomination, to do so behind the pulpit is much more difficult. Yet across the nation, many pastors have decided, myself included, to preach on what it means to be an American Citizen as a Christian. What are we obligated to do, and what does our faith says with regards to voting. So, in like manner, I too will provide a sermon on citizenship. But first, a legal caveat.
Supposedly, according to the law, I am not allowed to tell you behind the pulpit who to vote for and which party to vote for. I say supposedly because there is no such stipulation, but in recent past many pastors and congregations who lean particularly in one certain direction have been attacked by the IRS. So I will not, behind the pulpit at least, provide a sermon on who to vote for, but rather preach on the importance of voting as Christians and then imploring that you vote on good and legitimate Christian values, as oppose to those fake Christian values that are not supported anywhere in the Bible. I will do this by using Scripture, the Book of Concord, and official statements of the NALC.
Regarding Government, what does Scripture say? The two most important Scriptures we should read from regarding government are from Romans 13 and Acts 5. The first says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but too bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain.” The latter, “We must obey God rather than men.” What does this mean? Quite simply that we are to obey God first and foremost and that as Christians we are to obey government in so far Government also obeys God. Basically, because government is a gift to us by God himself, we are to obey government because their authority stems from God. However, if we are forced to choose obedience to government or God then we must disobey government because the only reason why we obey government is because we first obey God.
The concept I just described can be best interpreted as such: we are first and foremost Christians and secondly Americans; our primary citizenship is to the Heavenly Kingdom of God and our American citizenship compared to such is but secondary. Many times through the Psalms this is expressed, as King David lauds God above all nations. Psalm 22: 27-28, “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.” Psalm 47: 8,
“God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.” And from today’s Psalm, Psalm 113: 4, “The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens!” Thus, in all that we do as Americans, to include vote, we do so first as a subject of God’s Kingdom.
Within our Book of Concord, particularly the Augsburg Confession Article 16: Of Civil Government, all this gets neatly tied together. It reads, “Concerning public order and secular government it is taught that all political authority, orderly government, laws, and good order in the world are created and instituted by God and that Christians may without sin exercise political authority; be princes and judges; pass sentences and administer justice according to imperial and other existing laws; punish evildoers with the sword; wage just wars; serve as soldiers; buy and sell; take required oaths; possess property; be married; etc. Condemned here are the Anabaptists who teach that none of the things indicated above are Christian. Also condemned are those who teach that Christian perfection means physically leaving house and home, spouse and child, and refraining from the above-mentioned activities. In fact, the only true perfection is true fear of God and true faith in God. For the Gospel teaches an internal, eternal reality and righteousness of the heart, not an external, temporal one. The Gospel does not overthrow secular government, public order, and marriage but instead intends that a person keep all this as a true order of God and demonstrate in these walks of life Christian love and true good works according to each person’s calling. Christians, therefore, are obliged to be subject to political authority and to obey its commands and laws in all that may be done without sin, but if a command of the political
authority cannot be followed without sin, one must obey God rather than any human being (Acts 5:29).”
Therefore it is perfectly alright for Christians, who are first and foremost Christians, to serve in government and to vote. By doing so the relationship between Church and Government, and in effect their obligations with regards to each other, are fulfilled. For as Lutherans, we identify three holy estates ordained by God: Family, Government, and Church. The family’s sole duty with regards to the other two is to be the foundation of which good citizens and Christians are raised. The sole duty of government with regards to other two is to be the physical protectors. This means government exists to use the power of the sword to protect and preserve the Church of God. And as for the church, its sole duty with regards to the other two is to keep them holy. By preaching the Good News and letting Christian values influence government then we are fulfilling our Christian duty of maintaining government as one of the holy estates.
That’s the key, and the reason why we vote and get involved in politics: to make sure politics is always downstream of religion. We all know that due to original sin, without the help of God we are all helpless at performing even one singular good though or deed. We are all born completely corrupt and enslaved to Satan’s domain of sinfulness. Every pore of our very being is infected with this invasive disease known as original sin. We cannot save ourselves, and if we hope to do anything remotely good then we need the help of God which is indeed already provided for through our Savior Jesus Christ who died on the cross to forgive us our sins and lead us toward a life of holiness. Now if government is
made up of men and laws are created by men, then would that not also imply that our completely corruption under sin would influence government? Correct! For because of original sin even government is completely corrupted and subject to Satan. This is why we preach multiple times about how the world hates Christ; for this is because, without the help of God and the salvation found in Christ, government is helplessly a victim of the Devil’s demonic schemes. Therefore, as the Church, for the sake of government, should we not ought to do everything in our power to allow God to influence our nation more so than the Devil? For if we don’t then we as a nation will ultimate start exalting and protecting man-made abominations, and in fact we already are.
This is why we pray for our leaders and ask God to bless our nation. We pray not because we agree with the agenda of our leaders, but that God’s agenda is ultimately accomplished. We ask God to bless this nation because without His help we will degrade into wickedness. This is also why we as a whole vote, participate in government, serve as judges, etc. with our Christian faith always on our sleeves. Our faith always comes first.
In addition, this is also why within the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, the defining document of what it means to be an Orthodox Lutheran, the following are listed as heresies. Again, the follow statements are heretical and we do not abide by them: That governmental service is not a God-pleasing walk of life in the New Testament; That a Christian cannot hold an office in government with a good, clear conscience; That Christians may not with a clear conscience exercise their governmental office against the wicked in appropriate situations, nor may Christian
subjects of the government appeal to its power; that Christians may not with good conscience swear an oath in court or pay feudal homage to their prince or lord with an oath; That governmental authority may not with a clear conscience impose capital punishment upon criminals; That a Christian may not with a good conscience own or possess private property, but rather is bound to surrender all to the community (Socialism is officially labeled a heresy in Lutheranism).
Now some may falsely claim what about Separation of Church and State? To that I say no such thing exists in America, and if it did then we are compelled as Lutherans to disobey such nonsense. If there is a separation it is a separation of duties and not of relationship. The Church and the State have two separate
list of obligations given by God, the two do not act as the other, but the two do relate to each other. The State protects the Church, and the Church influences the State.
What does this influencing the state looks like? First and foremost, the ultimate influencer is God. Therefore, of all things the most important thing we can ever vote upon is letting God be more present everywhere, aka lifting up radically so Religious Freedom. There is a reason why it is the first freedom in the Bill of Rights; because our first speaker of the house, a Lutheran pastor, Rev. Frederick Muhlenberg, understood this to be the most important freedom in America. For all our founding fathers understood that without God, this great experiment called America will fail. Thus we vote in favor of radically capitalizing on our freedom to follow the Great Commission in every corner of our life. We are to preach, teach, and baptize in the name of the
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to all nations. And if this is our chief goal – to defend religious freedom and our right to preach the Good News everywhere without fear of governmental punishment – then we need to be honest with ourselves. Who is more likely to punish Christians? Be honest when you vote, ask, between all the candidates who has the highest likelihood to rigorously defend your right to preach about your orthodox faith in all walks of your life? Also ask, who has the higher likelihood of punishing, or supporting punishment from other sources, Christians who outwardly act upon their faith? I don’t care about a candidate’s conduct, only their policies. Ask yourself, if given the authority who would use everything in their power, using the force of government, to shut down this church and throw me in jail vs protect and preserve this church? Be honest with yourself! As for me, the answer is obvious.
As for our other Christian values, do not be swayed by the political manipulations of the Christophobic crowd. If a Christian value was never politicized in the past but is now that is due to political manipulators who wish to terrify churches into silence, so that good non-political Christian messages are never spoken out of fear of opposing a particular recent political stance that only one party stands up, in an extremist manner, for. If we the church was to allow the world to silence us out of fear of being falsely labeled of being political then we will inevitably act in the same manner as those Christians in Nazi Germany who never dared spoke up against the atrocities of the then current administration out of fear of politicizing the Church.
Now the Christian values that the NALC stands up for that are not political, and of which all good Christians vote for, includes: protecting the innocent lives of all human beings from conception to grave; fighting against the LBGT and their entire demonic agenda; and lifting up religious freedom. And if you don’t believe me that these are official stances of the NALC, I have documents in the Narthex prepared to prove my case.
In the end, what are we to do as Christians? First, we must deny our sinful tendencies to follow worldly desires and instead deny ourselves in humble service towards God. Next, we should learn to fear God more than fearing Man, for true wisdom is not found in mankind but in the fear of the Lord alone. And last, now that we have submitted ourselves to God and not to demonic political stances, we vote and promote policies in line with our faith while we also pray for the Lord’s blessing to guide us. I hope that satisfies some of the questions many have had regarding how we who are first Citizens of God’s Kingdom function as also citizens of America.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, you are the King of Kings and all authority and nations bow down to you. No one is higher than you and deserves more respect than you. Help us to serve you with our whole heart, mind, soul, and body so that we can better serve our neighbors. Help us remember that though we are citizens of America, we are even more so citizens of your heavenly kingdom. In your holy name we pray: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Sermon 9/25/22 "Humble Wisdom" by:Pastor Chris Boyd
Proverbs 9: 8-12
Psalm 10: 12-18
St. Luke 14: 25-33
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
Many of you grew up with parents that were strict and could be scary when needed. Some of you may have been that kind of parent. When I was a child, my mother was definitely one of those firm parents who spanked and grounded and made sure I was punished whenever necessary. She was fierce and protective, but she expected high things from her children and raised us to respect authority, to understand consequences, and to trust her judgement. She was a good mother, and because she was good she was strict. She forced her kids to go to church, no if or buts, we went. She gave warnings and followed through with her warnings. She was also a huge advocate of providing a healthy dosage of vitamin “No”. Again, she did all this because she was a good parent.
As a child, I grew to respect my mother. Of course I hated it when I was punished, looking back I know that my punishments were absolutely necessary, and I’m glad my mother was strict with me. I loved her, but I also had a healthy level of fear which prevented me from doing things I should of never done. As a child, I was taught to honor my parents, but what does it mean to honor. It means to simply to love and trust but also to fear. When you obey your parents you do so because you trust their judgment, because you love them and want to obey them, but
also because you fear their punishment. The wrath of a parent should be a scary thing, and it is this fear that puts reigns on the more mischievous side of children. It is also this fear that teaches us initially the difference between right and wrong. As babies, we already got the trust and love part down toward our good parents, but it is the fear that stops us in our tracks whenever we do something inappropriate or dangerous. We don’t know that our actions are such, but we know fear, and it is the fear that teaches us that the action is a bad action. Thus if we have good parents, the fear of a parent’s wrath is a blessing. Through it we develop the wisdom to know what is inappropriate and what is bad.
For example, say a young child is chasing a ball and the ball enters a street. Because the young child fears being yelled at again the child stops instinctively and looks both ways before chasing the ball. If the child had no fear he would have kept on chasing the ball because at that moment the ball is more important, but because the child does have fear, though he may not understand why as soon as he gets to the road it is almost like a flip is switched and the boy stops in his tracks to look both ways. Not getting yelled at again is more important than the ball.
The same applies to the most good and heavenly, kind and gentle, of all parents, our good Father in Heaven. As children of the heavenly kingdom we should both love and fear God the Father. Now we should not fear that God with act in an evil manner, for no such thing will ever happen, but rather fear His righteous judgment. But before we get there, first, is not God the most loving and good parent ever? Can any parent on earth be better than God? Can anyone be better than God? No, because
God isn’t just the best but is the source of all that is good. God is the definer of what it means to be good, and nothing can take that away from Him. This is the foundation of every argument we stand on regarding God: that God is good all the time. We start there, and then we proceed to have a healthy level of fear toward God our Heavenly Father, in the same way we should have a healthy level of fear toward our earthly parents.
One of my favorite books in the Bible is Job, so let us read Job 28:28, “And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’” God tells us multiple times that all good things come from Him and that most certainly includes wisdom. Now this is not the wisdom found in philosophy or sociology or politics or humanities or any other human-made form of understanding. These are all human attempts at being wise, but all are foolishness compared to the wisdom we do receive from God.
So why is it that true wisdom comes only from fearing God and this wisdom from the world is but a fake? It all boils down to sin. For when it comes to understanding the difference between good and evil and then acting in a way to avoid said evil, it is
blatantly obvious that without the help of God we never learn our lesson. We create for ourselves our own version of good and evil, so we are already failing at the get-go as we lie to ourselves about reality, but then we fail at following through with our own made-up system of morality. Then we pick up the fragments and instead of learning our lesson we try it again.
That’s the thing about wisdom, if you don’t learn your lesson then you will never grow wise. On top of that, the mark of a truly wise person is someone who is willing to learn from their mistakes and listen to a credible source. When it comes to morality, there is only one credible source, and that is God. This is why we read in our first lesson, Proverbs 9: 8-9, “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” The scoffer is he who does not fear God. The scoffer is the one who will not listen to reason regarding the Word of God. The wise one is willing to acknowledge that as a fallen human he will fail and get things wrong and is thus willing to be reproved. A wise person is willing to be reprimanded by scripture, and will grow wiser and more loving toward God for it. And as for a righteous man, well in this context a righteous person is a wise person, for a person is made righteous and wise on account of faith in God which implies trust, love, and fear.
This then naturally leads to the next verse, Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” As one can tell this is but a variant to Job 28:28. God is repeating to us in Scripture, putting extra emphasis on this message by repeating it multiple times throughout Scripture, this message that He is so dearly trying to drill home. And what is that lesson? That fearing God is a good thing and should be desirable in all Christians alongside love in God for it is through fear in the righteous wrath of God that we become wise. This is wisdom found in humility. By humbling ourselves to God, we allow Him to teach us what is good and
what is evil. It is fear that compels us towards humility, for if we didn’t fear God than we would naturally show partiality toward His Word.
Though we are fallen humans incapable of perfectly following the Law, we should still attempt to follow the Law and humbly repent whenever we stumble. We do this not because we are trying to save ourselves through the Law, but because we ought to follow the Law. Our love toward God in desiring to follow Him, and our fear toward God of His displeasure, combined, is what makes us wise.
The same applies to the Cross. If you love Christ, but fear not the consequences of sin, then you will never turn toward the Cross. For to be saved through faith in Christ is simply this: to love and fear God so much that you throw your sins on Jesus who died on the Cross to take on those sins thus providing for you the means to eternal salvation in Heaven. Jesus Christ died to forgive you your sins; that is what it means to be saved. Yet, if you fear not Hell, nor sin, nor the Law then why in the world would you run to Jesus to be forgiven of that which you don’t care about? The reason why we turn to Christ is because of our sins. We are so terrified of the just punishment we deserve that we turn out of love to the only source of forgiveness. And this is where the beauty of God’s law fulfilled comes into play, for not only did He out of love show for us, His children, what is good and evil and the consequences of such, He also showed us the means of forgiveness.
And again, I need to stress that word, “forgiveness.” If our faith in Christ was so centered on loving God but not fearing Him then though we may turn to Christ we would change His sacrifice from a means of forgiveness into a means of acceptance. In a society that loves but does not fear God, we make a mockery of Jesus’ sacrifice by proclaiming it as a means of allowance toward sin. In such a society it is alright to sin for Christ already forgave you of your sin. There is no fear nor respect nor honor to God the Father in such a society. Murder and rape and lying in court will be rampant but it would be alright because Christ already forgave you. Do you now see the necessity of having a healthy level of fear toward God? Christ didn’t come to abolish the Law, he came to fulfill it, and therefore the Law still exists. Thus as Christians, saved by faith alone, we still have an obligation to obey God and follow all His commandments.
It is fear that helps us do this, and through such fear we, who are still children in the eyes of God the father, will grow in wisdom as we come to understand what is good and what is evil. And as we fear God, let it be known that God is the most good of all fathers and will never do any evil toward you, but instead provides a most gracious means of forgiveness. Thus, allow your fear to compel you toward that means of grace.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, show us your children the ways of wisdom and to learn from you and continually grow. In your heavenly name we pray: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Sermon 10/02/22 "Humble Salvation" by:Pastor Chris Boyd
Exodus 32: 7-14
Psalm 51: 1-18
1 Timothy 1: 12-17
St. Luke 15: 1-10
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
I’m a huge fan of ministers who go to the darkest corners of the world and provide their entire ministry to those who live in these less-than-favorable junctions. That includes pastors who preach the untainted pure good news to prisoners, addicts, those on death row, the homeless, and even the most tainted and demonic of areas such as outside Planned Parenthood and pro pedophilia draw shows. We need Christians preaching the Good News in these areas so that hope, joy, and the forgiveness of sins is provided. Yes, even the mass murderer who works at Planned Parenthood can be forgiven of his or her sins and receive the Salvation that comes only through faith in Christ. How would anyone know if no one went to them and preached the pure Scripture that life begins at conception and automatically have intrinsic value according to Genesis 1:27-28, Genesis 9:6, Exodus 20:13, Exodus 23:7, Exodus 21:22-23 (which states that a man must be put to death if he caused a child in a pregnant women to die), Deuteronomy 30:19, Job 10:11-12, Job 31:15, Job 33:4, Psalm 22:10, Psalm 100:3, Psalm 119:73, Psalm 127:3-5, Psalm 139:13-16, Isaiah 44:24, Isaiah 45:9-11, Isaiah 59:1-5, Isaiah 64:8, Jeremiah 1:5, Luke 1:15, Luke 1:41-44, 1 Corinthians 1:27, Galatians 1:15, etc.? My personal favorite is from today’s psalm, Psalm 51:5, “Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.”
At the same time, how would these people know that despite their sins, Jesus Christ still died on the cross to forgive them of their sins, in fact he died specifically for us? How would they know if no one tells them?
This is why on the flip side I have anger in my heart towards pastors who stick their noses up at those whose souls are too unclean for them. They come to find out that a parishioner committed a sin and decide to abandon said person in their sin, to let them wander aimlessly in their outer darkness. They avoid bad areas in the neighborhood that have the rough crowds. They hang out with the rich, clean, and upright, but to the poor and dirty and down-to-earth they treat them like scum and provide no opportunity of repentance. They abandon the ones who are in the most need of Christ in their lives, and thus prove themselves to be the scummiest of scums. I would say to such people, hang out with enlisted soldiers, people who swear every other word and spit dip at the most awkward of times and drink booze during down time; that would bring down their haughty barriers fast.
Do they not know that when Jesus came to earth He came for the unclean, not the clean. Jesus came to save the broken, not the all-ready whole. He came for the imperfect, not the perfect. He came for those who are filthy, not the pure. He came for sinners, not saints. When He came he intentionally hanged out with the outcasts and the worse of civilization. He did so because they were willing to listen and be forgiven. He hanged out with tax collectors and sinners. He preached to thieves and prostitutes. He was willing to forgive murderers and rapists. He was even willing
to preach and forgive the worst of society - the Pharisees and their scribes.
The reason is simple, Jesus came to save. What need is there to find a person who is already at home? Why would I clean a rag that is already perfectly clean? What’s the point in putting a bandage or taking medicine when you have no injuries or are not sick? Why save someone who does not need to be saved?
Christ’s entire ministry was for the lost, the poor in soul, the blind, the deaf, the unclean, and the wretched. He didn’t come here to lift up those who will already enter Heaven. He came for those who are unable to enter Heaven. He came and died on the cross for those whose sins prevent them from entering the Kingdom of God. Through the cross He takes on these very sins so that we may be spotless when the time comes. His death was our atoning sacrifice, for as long as we have faith in Him, then no matter what happens we will go into heaven. Jesus Christ humbled Himself to provide Salvation not to saints but to sinners.
So when the haughty Pharisees and scribes lifted up their noses at Jesus, grumbling, “This man receives sinners and eats with them,” they intended that to be an insult. Have they not read Scripture? If they have then are they not idiots? Do they not know that within the Laws of Moses that the means for forgiveness through various offerings are provided. Do they not have the humility to realize they themselves are sinners? Do they claim to be better than King David who sings in Psalm 51:2, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin”? Have they conveniently glossed over all the multitude of Scripture that
points to the promise of salvation? The arrogance of these foolish clowns! Are they not lost on the sheer irony of their own words? For according to chapter 14:1, this interaction is happening within the house of a ruler of the Pharisees who also had lawyers, scribes, and lesser Pharisees invited as guests. The words of the grumblers again was, “This man receives sinners and eats with them,” yet at that very moment, though the tax collectors and sinners were approaching the home of the Pharisees to hear the words of Jesus, the ones Jesus was entertaining and eating with were the very Pharisees who uttered this nonsense.
When the Pharisees grumbled that Jesus eats with sinners, who was He eating with at that very moment? The Pharisees; oh, the irony! What they say is still true, for all except for Jesus have sinned.
Now Jesus’ response to this arrogance was to provide a number of Parables. We read two today, and after said two, Jesus, in Chapter 16, provides some more parables only to end with the Pharisees openly ridiculing Jesus in front of His disciples and all the sinners outside listening. What was Jesus’ response? “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
Jesus came to save all people because all have sinned, most especially the Pharisees, but how can Jesus save the Pharisees if they keep on pushing Him away in favor of self justification? He who justifies himself before God using earthly exaltation will never be saved because they don’t want to be
saved. Jesus wants to save the Pharisees, why do you think he spent three chapters in the book of St Luke giving parable after parable to them specifically? He’s trying to open their eyes to the reality that they can’t save themselves. Jesus, who is the good shepherd, has come to find those who are lost sheep to save them. Jesus, who is the most pure and righteous, who is God incarnate, humbled Himself through the most humbling of means, martyrdom, so that through Him we, who are all lost sheep, will be saved.
Jesus is the good shepherd who abandons his 99 good sheep who are saved to search far and wide through thick and thin to find one sheep that is lost and confused. He does not stop looking for the sheep because he knows that the others are safe, but that this one little sheep is in dire need of being found. Does the shepherd gather his friends and rejoice over the 99 that are already found? No! He gathers them for the one that was lost but is now found. The same applies to Christ, for all of Heaven rejoices when one sinner repents. All the angels and archangels, seraphim and cherubim, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and all the company of saints in Heaven rejoice with a fanfare of trumpets and loud cheer and endless feasts for one sinner who has faith in Jesus Christ. Their rejoice is more rambunctious and filled with mirth over one sinner who is saved than 99 who are already saved. In fact, there is more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents then a thousand who need no repentance, even a million!
Again, you see, Jesus did not humble himself for those who are already saved or claim they are saved through their own
works. Jesus died to save those who can’t save themselves. The same applies to justification, which is but another word for saved in this context. Jesus did not come to justify those who claim to already be justified or who are justifying themselves through worldly means. Jesus came to justify those who are unjust.
Additionally, before any Christian boldly proclaims that he or she is not as sinful as Lutherans traditionally make every fallen human to be, a question - who do you believe was the greatest Christian? Of all Christians, who deserves most to be at Jesus’ right hand? I would boldly wager St Paul, yet pay attention to his words in 1 Timothy 1:15, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” Paul was so humble that he, multiple times, claimed to be the Chief of Sinners. Paul is saved because he had the humility to accept Jesus Christ not only as God but also as His Savior.
And to those who do likewise, who boldly claim that they are sinners but even more boldly claim that they have faith in Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, to you I say, with 100% confidence, I don’t care what your background is or what you’ve done in your life, you are saved!
Praise be to God! Amen.
Sermon 9/18/22 "Humble Service" By Pastor Chris Boyd
Proverbs 25: 6-7
Hebrews 13: 1-8
St. Luke 14: 1, 7-14
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
Don’t you love it when someone comes to you after you just sat down that you will need to move to a different chair? Such a move is more palpable if you were moved to a better seat or in your intent to be modest someone told you that they recognized you and wanted to give to you a seat of honor. It is always better to be moved a status higher. But such a move becomes down right humiliating if you say accidentally sat in the best man’s chair at a wedding’s after party, only to be moved to the very back; or worse if you intentionally sat in a seat of honor thinking that you rightfully deserved but in all reality did not.
I can just imagine a pompous prince of who-knows-what-country attending a pauper’s wedding. He sees a chair that is much grander than any other chair and says to himself, “Now this chair is fit for a prince, let me claim this chair at once as only I a proper prince should be graced with such a fine fixture.” As the wedding party enter into the sanctuary the priest waltzes over to the prince and tells him that he is sitting in the wrong chair, for that chair already belongs to someone else.
“Let me guess, is this your chair, you pompous priest? Let me have you know that I’m the son of your king,” says the prince. And the priest responds, “I see your eyes are working, I am indeed a priest, but only a humble priest who dares not sit in such a grand chair provided by the groom’s family for this special occasion. For you see, that chair belongs to a far more important person: the groom’s mother.” Imagine how embarrassed the prince might feel as he gives up his seat to a kind little ol’ lady.
On an even more humorous note, imagine a man walks into a Lutheran sanctuary well before anyone else arrives. He is new to church and decided he wanted to attend a service. Well he’s been to funerals and weddings and figures that most Lutherans would sit near the front, especially the important Lutherans. As he sits in a pew near the back he says to himself, I hope I’m not sitting in anyone’s seat.
The message of the story goes as such: it is better to humble yourself than to think better. For if you were to puff yourself up, when reality causes you to come crashing back down to earth you will unnecessarily brush your own ego. But if you were to lessen yourself, then when your peers try and cheer you up your heart will be lifted with elation. It is always better to bring yourself down low only for others to bring you back up, then it is to bring yourself up high only for others to bring you back down.
Both our First Lesson and Gospel refer to this concept. The first from Proverbs 25: 6-7, again reads, “Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, for it is better to be told, ‘Come up here,’ than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.” And the latter from Luke 14: 11, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Now whereas these lessons given to us by God are very good and appropriate for simple living, for it is always better to be lifted than humbled by our peers, this instruction is not limited to simply how one should merely act. Yes, it is all good that we utilize these teachings from Jesus in both the Old and New Testament, and we should, to have better relations with all people, but there is so much more to the Word of Jesus behind this mere apparent instruction on how we should relate to each other. This lesson isn’t only about living a life of humility toward other people, but in a much stronger sense a lesson in how we should live in humble service towards God.
To help bring to the forefront this message, let us dive into the readings, starting with the Gospel. The thing about Jesus is that He absolutely loves talking about weddings and banquets. Yet, almost every time He gives a lesson that utilizes wedding and banquet motifs, He does so pointing to God the Father and/or Heaven. In fact, in the paragraph right after today’s Gospel, Jesus does exactly that. He described the Kingdom God via a parable with a banquet motif. And because context is key, one would rightly assume that, though Jesus did not mention heaven or the kingdom or God in today’s Gospel, it is still referencing such. If you were to read in between the lines, it would check out. For is it not better to be lifted up by God than to be brought low by God?
Now as for the first lesson, this checks out even more for is not Jesus the King of Kings? Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence, in the King of King’s presence; or stand in the place of the great, or sit on Jesus’ throne. When you approach Jesus sitting on His throne do you tell Him to get out of your seat or do you bow down to His magnificent glory? Do you tell God to bow to you, or do you bow to God?
Now the answer is simple what we ought to do, but that does not mean we do such. We know we should bow to God than to believe we are better than Him and can control Him, yet all too often each of us may find ourselves in a predicament where we choose to obey our own inner voice than the Word of God.
This was the predicament the Pharisees during Jesus’ times and the Sophists during Martin Luther’s times faced. They caved to worldly ideas, to manmade laws, philosophy, and to themselves. Did not Jesus said if you wish to follow Him to deny yourself, the hate your neighbor, to live in the world but not of the world? The only voice we should listen to is the Word of God. We should humble ourselves and run away from our own ungodly opinions, to not be enticed by the sweet words of man. And as we bow to God acknowledging that you are worthless, and do not deserve heaven, in complete humbleness, God will look at you in boundless love and lift you up to the highest of heights. Let God lift you up. Don’t try and lift yourself up, that’s works alone. Let God do the grunt work of lifting you up.
A story: There once was a man who was rich, powerful, had all that he ever wanted, and believed himself to be the best human being. He gave money to the poor. He built orphanages and helped settle the debts of many. He was widely loved and adored by the masses. After he died he waltzed over to the gates of Heaven with his chest puffed outward and head held up high. Now in front of the gate was Jesus who is holding his hand out to the rich man, but the rich man swats the hand away and says, “I don’t need you and your extremist nonsense! I was a good person and deserve to enter through… Let me through, I say!” Sadly the poor man was lacking in faith for he hated the judgement of Jesus and believed himself to be sinless. This poor man has done so much, he should be allowed in for he was much more loving and kind than those bigoted Christians.
As the man rich in earthly things but poor in higher things fumes to the side he sees a little boy all tattered up and dirty walk up to Jesus. Wait a minute, this was the boy I caught stealing a weak before my death. There’s no way he will enter in. The boy walks to Jesus and says, “I’m sorry Lord, I have failed you. I am just a common thief and deserve not your love nor entrance into your Kingdom, but still I humbly ask please have mercy on me.” No despair on earth will match the despair of the rich man as he sees the boy thief enter into heaven as He gets locked out into the outer darkness.
Christ didn’t humble himself on the cross, dying for the sins of those don’t need His aid. Christ didn’t die for the ones who will enter heaven. Christ humbled himself for those who couldn’t enter into heaven. He died for sinners, like you and me. He paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we wouldn’t. And if it was not for Jesus’ sacrifice, we would be paying the price. We deserve to enter Hell, and there is nothing we can do ourselves and ourselves alone that will save us from that fate. If we get haughty, do you think we will accept the saving hands of Christ? Or do you think we will try to save ourselves, or claim we don’t need Christ’s help, or believe that we already deserve to have a seat at the table of the heavenly feast?
Be careful that you do not let your pride or the world’s pride take charge and whisk you away. Be careful that you do not let the voice of mankind be more powerful than the Word of God. Be careful that you do not come to love or fear man more than God. Without God we and all our schemes are nothing; and if we believe we are something then we prove ourselves to be liars. We need Christ, for through Him all things are possible and through Him we become heirs to the Kingdom. So stop trying to puff yourself up or believe you deserve a seat in God’s kingdom, for He will eventually humble you. Instead bow to the Triune God in all humility and He will not only save you but will make you kings and queens.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, we humbly pray that though we do not deserve your grace that you continue to bless us now and forever more. In your most holy name we pray: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.