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Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer

Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Justified by Faith - October 25, 2015 - Reformation Sunday - Text: Romans 3:19-28

Happy Reformation Day! And so again, this year, as last year and as I will continue to do every year, I greet you with what I consider to be wonderful words of greeting. And again I confess, right from the start, that Reformation Day continues to be one of my favorite holidays. Reformation Day is the day we celebrate the re-forming of the church, and specifically, the church of Luther’s day. Reformation Day is the day we celebrate the work of God through the man, Dr. Martin Luther. Notice, we do not worship Martin Luther. We do celebrate that God the Holy Spirit, working through the means of grace, the Word and the Sacraments, moved Dr. Martin Luther to recognize the false and misleading teachings of the church of his day. God worked through Dr. Luther to show us that a person is not saved by works of the Law, rather a person is saved by grace, through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection. That alone makes this a most precious day to remember.
 
In our text for this morning, the Epistle lesson, Paul gives us a lesson to help us get a fuller understanding of the proper distinction between the Law and its purpose and the Gospel and its purpose. Paul begins with the Law and its purpose, we read, “19Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin”(v. 19-20). According to Paul the Law serves the following purposes. One of the purposes of the Law is to silence us. The Law is to keep us from bragging or boasting about our good works, or what we think are our good works. After all, it is hard to brag when all you have to brag about is how you are responsible for the death of someone, an innocent someone, especially when that someone is your own God.
 
Another purpose of the Law is to show us that we are accountable. Through the Law we understand the we are responsible for ourselves. Does this ever smack right in the face of our society today?! How often do we read or hear about people who have won lawsuits for their own negligence, if not out right stating at least implying that they are not responsible for themselves. The most famous case was the lady who spilled the hot coffee on herself. Other examples include the guy who road his bicycle at night wearing dark clothes and without any lights and sued because he was hit by a car. Of late we have hard about the young man who wanted to sue the fast food industry because he was obese. We could spend a lot of time discussing how we do not like to be held accountable for our actions in this country, yet, we do not want anyone telling us we cannot do whatever we want to do. In our text, Paul tells us that God, through the Law, reminds us the we are accountable, He will hold us, each one of us,  personally responsible for breaking the Law.
 
Which brings us to one more stated purpose of the Law, that is that the Law is given to show us our sins. One quick check of our lives against the ten commandments will suffice. I will be quick and brief, but I just want you to get the idea. Have you ever placed your hope in yourself or the things of this world, misused God’s name, neglected not only to be in church, but to hear and do according to what God says in His Word? Have you ever disobeyed anyone in authority over you, thought hateful thoughts, called someone a name or hurt them in any way, lusted after another person, thought about stealing, borrowed without returning, committed vandalism, said anything bad about someone, even if it was true, thought you wanted something so bad you would steal for it, have been discontent with your circumstances or possessions? If you have done any one of these things, then you have broken, not one but, all the commandments. Ouch! And our punishment was to be death, eternal, spiritual death.
 
Thanks be to God that Paul did not stop with the Law. Our text continues with the Gospel and its purpose, we continue reading, “21But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe”(v. 21-22a). Here I must say we do not count the number of purposes of the Gospel. When it comes to God’s gifts, especially His gift of the Gospel, we are reminded that God gives the whole lot of His gifts and He gives a whole lot more. I know I have said this before, at least I have mentioned it in Bible Class, but the fact of the matter is that God does not do fractions, that is God does not do math. God does not give us some of His gifts now and some later. He gives us all His gifts now and even more of them later. One of the purposes of the Gospel, then, is to bring us righteousness, which comes from God. Our righteousness, our right standing before God, does not come from within ourselves, it is not a self-righteousness, rather it comes from outside of us, it comes from God. Think about it this way, would you rather be self-righteous according to your standard of righteousness which might not cut it before God, or would you rather be righteous according to the standard of the person who is judging your righteousness?
 
Another purpose of the Gospel is to make our righteousness known to us and that is done through the Law and the Prophets. Here the Law and the Prophets are the whole Bible and it is through the whole Bible that God makes His righteousness known to us. We might say it this way, the Bible is one of the means that God has of giving us His righteousness.
 
Another purpose of the Gospel is to show us that our righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. Here we are reminded of the importance of our faith. But let us not misunderstand faith. We must recognize that faith is not something we do. Although the Gospel continually speaks of the necessity of faith, it does not do so in the sense of demanding faith as a good work, rather it does so in the sense of an invitation extended to all people to be given the promises of God. Notice that I did not say receive. I believe there is a subtle difference in the wording of “receiving” and “being given to.” To say that we “receive” from God, very subtly implies that we are doing something. Whereas, to say that we “are given to” by God takes all the onus off of us and puts it entirely on God as the giver and makes us the passive ones who are being given to. Remember, the whole value of faith lies not in who has faith, but in the object or basis of faith. Faith in self earns hell. Faith in Jesus and His work on the cross alone earns heaven.
 
Moving on in our text Paul tells us how the Law and Gospel work together, we read, “For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus”(v. 22b-26). The Law shows how we have completely failed, that we have fallen short of the glory of God. The Law shows us our complete damnation. The Law does not save, it does not move us to anything but despair, or it leads to self-righteousness, which is why we never preach the Law by itself. This is what Dr. Luther was trying to reform in the church of his day. There was a confusion of Law and Gospel, such that one was taught that forgiveness could be earned and even must be earned, or it could be purchased for a price, namely for a certain amount of money. Anytime it is stated or even implied that there is anything we need to do or even can do to pay for some or any of our sins, we are simply saying that Jesus’ work on the cross was not sufficient for our sins. Again, this is what Dr. Luther was trying to reform.
 
The Gospel shows how God freely lifts us up and makes us one with Himself. The Gospel shows us our complete salvation. The Gospel saves and moves us to do good works to the glory of God. However, the Gospel must never be preached by itself either, for if we preach the Gospel without the Law then it becomes worthless. Think about it this way, if we do not hear the Law, if we do not know that we sin, then why would we need a Savior, thus the Gospel is worthless. If we are taught and told over and over again how we are good people and how we can be good people, then why would we need a Savior. Our preaching, which expounds the Word of God, must reflect that Word which proclaims Law and Gospel. It must also reflect God’s Word, such as the words of the Close of the Commandments, which show us that God’s Law is but for three or four generations, whereas His Gospel is for thousands of generations. Always the greater emphasis on the Gospel.
 
The Law and the Gospel work together to show us the importance of Jesus’ atonement, or at-one-ment sacrifice. Jesus died for all sins of all people of all time. Our text calls them those sins committed beforehand unpunished. This reference is to the sins of the people before Jesus came. Their sins were literally unpunished until Jesus came to the cross.  Their sins were punished in Jesus on the cross, as were our sins and the sins of all people of all times and all places.
 
All of this, the Law and the Gospel are meant to show God’s justice. When we talk about the word justice we do mean a legal act on the part of God, by which He places in us, makes us possessors of, a rightness which was not ours, which we did not earn, which we do not deserve, which we did not merit. In other words, we do not receive what we deserve, eternal damnation in hell, rather we are given what Christ has deserved for us. In our world today we might just say, praise the Lord that we do not get what we are entitled, hell. Rather we get what Christ is entitled, life in heaven.
 
Finally, Paul tells us how we are to respond to God’s gift of Law and Gospel. Yes, even Paul, in good Lutheran fashion, answers the question, “What does this mean?” we read,“27Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (v. 27-28). Paul begins by reminding us that we are to respond to the Law and Gospel by humbly being given the gifts God has to give to us. We are not to boast which includes holding anything back from the Lord as if we have any part in obtaining the gifts that He has to give to us, in other words, thinking we are doing God a favor by coming to worship and Bible class, thinking we are doing God a favor by putting some of our earnings into the offering plate, thinking we are somebody because we are members of St. Matthew Lutheran church, especially if we are members in name only and do not take part in the whole life of the church, or simply thinking more highly of ourselves rather than thinking of ourselves as servants of the Lord.
 
Paul reminds us that we are to recognize that we cannot save ourselves. All of our offerings, all of our good deeds, all of our prayers, all of our time, all of our anything will not save us. Only all of Jesus’ work on the cross will save us. How true and how humbling.
 
Paul, then, reminds us that our response to the Law and the Gospel is to humbly give thanks to God with our fruits of the spirit. We are given God’s gifts and show that we have been given His gifts by our actions, by our living in peace, in joy, in patience, and so on. We are given the gifts from God by boasting only in the cross of Christ, recognizing that we are justified, are made right before God and have access to heaven by faith apart from our observing the law.
 
Reformation Day is an important day, not because of some man named Dr. Martin Luther, but because of God’s work through this man and because of His work through the means of grace, through the Word and the Sacraments, through which He daily and richly works to strengthen us in our faith, to remind us of our forgiveness and to remind us of our salvation. To God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Importance of the Word - October 18, 2015 - Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 24) - Text: Hebrews 4:1-16

This week we continue our trek through the epistle to the Hebrews. This letter was written to warn Jewish Christians against falling into the false teachings of Judaism, that is that they must follow the Old Testament Laws in order to be saved. This letter also challenges these Christians to embrace world missions and to announce, to mainly Gentile Christians, the absolute character of Christianity, that is that Jesus accomplished the salvation spoken of in the promises of the Old Testament.
 
In our Old Testament lesson for this morning the preacher reminds us of the futility of earning money in this world. He reminds us that we are born with nothing and that we will leave this world with nothing. Thus, he warns or perhaps we should say he encourages us that unless we enjoy the fruit of our labor in this world we will only pass it on to those who will enjoy it.
 
In the Gospel lesson for this morning Jesus also addresses the issue of money. He reminds us of the difficulty of the rich in entering the kingdom of God. Jesus warning is that we must never trust in our own money or wherewithal for salvation.
  
In our text, the epistle reading, we are encouraged to trust, not in the things of this world, but in our Lord who does all and gives all. In particular, the epistle writer begins by telling us that God gives rest. Because of the length of this first section, verses one through ten, I am not going to read the whole section instead I will simply summarize it as we go.
 
The epistle writer begins by giving us an indication of the rest about which he is speaking as he suggests that we have the promise of entering “His” rest, that is of entering the rest of Jesus, in other words, we have the promise of eternal life in heaven. So, he suggests that while the promise of eternal life in heaven remains, we should fear the Lord, that is believe in Him, lest any of us should seem to fail to reach heaven. A nice tie in to the Old Testament and the Gospel readings in that we are not to be confident in our own resources, finance, monies, good works and so forth to gain eternal life, rather we are to rest our confidence in Christ Jesus alone for our salvation.
 
Moving on, the epistle writer reminds us that in six days God created the world and He rested on the seven day. In resting on the seventh day God consecrating that day as the Sabbath, that is as the day of rest. In so consecrating that day as the day of rest, our Lord continues to give us a day of rest, still today. This does not necessarily mean that we stay in bed, or that we do nothing at all. Instead, that the Lord gives us a Sabbath day, a day of rest means that we are to certainly rest from our normal physical, even manual labor and instead we are to use this day for the purpose of preparing ourselves for our eternal rest. Let me say that again, in case we missed it and this is what we said the epistle writer was indicating in the very first verse of this text. We are to use the day of rest, the Sabbath day, to prepare ourselves for our eternal rest. In other words, we are to use the Sabbath day as a day of reading, hearing and responding to the Word of God. We are to use the Sabbath day as an opportunity to be in divine service and in Bible Class. We are to use the Sabbath day as an opportunity to prepare ourselves, to be strengthen our faith, to be made ready for our eternal rest in heaven.
 
As you listen to the words of the epistle writer he makes a strong connection of the Sabbath as a type of the rest to come, even eternal life in heaven. Think about it this way, when we pass on from this world, when we die, we will no longer be concerned about the cares, worries, anxieties, toils, labors and tribulations of this world. Thus, we might well see the importance of being prepared for our eternal rest.
 
Again, as we listen to the words of the epistle writer, the rest which is to come after we pass on from this world is an eternal rest and is only for believers. Those who are not believers, those who are not prepared, those who do not have faith in Jesus alone for salvation will not be given eternal rest, instead they will be given eternal condemnation. Thus, we see the need for our continuing to make use of the Sabbath rest, to prepare ourselves, to strengthen our faith so that we might enter into the eternal Sabbath rest.
 
How do we make use of this Sabbath rest? The epistle writer reminds us of the Power of the Word and the importance of making use of that Word, that is of the hearing, believing and doing, again and doing, of that word. We pick up at verse eleven, “11Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (v. 11-13).
 
The epistle writer reminds us that the Word of God is living. We know that the Word of God is living and we have seen its living even living in Jesus the Word made flesh. Not only is the Word of God alive, not only is Jesus alive, but He is also active. He is active in our lives, guiding, guarding and protecting us, watch over us, ruling over us and interceding for us.
 
Jesus it the Word of God made flesh. He is the Word that is sharper than any two-edged sword. He rightly divides right from wrong, sin from righteousness. He gives us the  law and the gospel.
 
The power of the Word of God is that it shows us our sin. It shows that sin is sin, and ultimately, on Judgement day the Word of God will expose and judge all sin. These words of the epistle writer should indeed bring fear and trembling, because these words expose our sinfulness. To read the Word of God, to view the life of Jesus, we stand condemned. Not only do we sin against one commandment, but daily we sin against two, three, even all the commandments. Remember, we sin, not simply when we do something, but we sin when we fail to do something. We sin when we hurt or harm another person. We even sin when we think bad thoughts, that is to say we sin in thought, word and deed. And this Word of God is a word with power to show us our sin and how we cannot save ourselves.
 
Thanks be to God that the epistle writer is not finished writing, but instead he continues on to tell us of the power of Jesus. We pick up at verse fourteen, “14Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (v. 14-16).
 
As we have said, Jesus is the Word made flesh who came down from heaven. Jesus was true God, in heaven, enjoying all the glory and honor that was His. He was in heaven using His divine attributes to their fullest, yet He gave that up in order to take on human flesh and blood, that is to become one of us, one like us, one with us, except without sin. Jesus had to be God in order to be perfect and holy, in order to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Jesus had to be truly human in order to be our substitute.
 
Jesus gave up the glory that was His, took on human flesh and blood, becoming one of us. As a man, Jesus lived perfectly for us, in our place, doing what we could and cannot do. He perfectly obeyed all God’s commands. He perfectly fulfilled all God’s promises. He was tempted beyond what we might think or imagine, beyond what we may ever be tempted and yet, He never sinned. He was perfect and holy. Jesus overcame all that we might suffer and more and so, as the epistle writer says, He can sympathize with us.
 
After living a perfect life, after fulfilling all God’s promises completely, Jesus then took all our sins upon Himself, our sins of thought, word, and deed, our sins of omission and commission, that as we confess, “We have sinned against [God] in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.” And He paid the price for our sins. The price of death, even eternal spiritual death. Jesus suffered hell for us. As the epistle writer states it, He was our high priest who is able to sympathize with us and even did sympathize by making Himself sin for us. As our high priest He allowed Himself to be sacrificed for us, in our place. And yet, He did not stay dead, as death and the grave had no power over Him. No, He rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven and He is seated at the right hand of the Father. By faith in Jesus, faith given to us through the means of grace, we can draw near the throne of grace and we are given mercy and find grace in time of need.
 
What Does This Mean? This morning we are reminded once again of the importance of the Word: the Word made flesh; that is Jesus, the living Word who lived, suffered and died for us. The Word that did not stay dead, but rose from the dead.
 
We are reminded of the importance of the Word, that is the Word of God especially the Word of God as a means of grace. The Word that is a means through which we are given, strengthened and kept in faith. The Word which is a two-edged sword, rightly dividing sin and righteousness. The Word which is more important than other matters of this world, including, as we were reminded in the Old Testament and the Gospel, any amount of monies we might think or imagine.
 
This morning we are reminded once again of the importance of the Word which has been given to us and through which we are given rest; rest in this world and even greater rest, eternal rest in heaven.
 
This morning we are reminded once more of the importance of Sunday morning divine service. Sunday is not simply an evolutionary anomaly that remains unexplained. Sunday morning is a gift given to us by our great God. Certainly it is a day of rest in that we may not have to work at our normal job, but even more it is a day of rest in which we are given spiritual rest. It is a day of rest in which we are given, strengthened and kept in faith. It is a day of rest in which we are continually prepared for our eternal day of rest. Yes, it is that important of a day and gift from our Lord. May the Lord, through His Word, continue to give to you and strengthen you in your desire to be given the gifts He has to give through His Sabbath rest. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Give Heed For Salvation - October 4, 2015 - Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 22) - Text: Hebrews 2:1-18

Our Old Testament lesson for this morning is the account of the creation of the woman from the rib of the man to be bone of bone and flesh of flesh. It is also the account of God giving the gift of marriage, of one man and one woman. In the Gospel reading we have the account of the question of the Pharisees concerning divorce and Jesus’ answer that Moses allowed for divorce because of the sin and hardness of the human heart. In the Gospel we also have the account of Jesus’ exhortation to believe as little children, to have the faith of a child.
 
Sandwiched between these two lesson for today we have the Epistle reading from the letter to the Hebrews. The epistle lesson, which is our text, begins by helping us to understand the nature of our state of being. We begin at verse one, “1Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (v. 1-4).
 
The writer of this epistle urges us to “pay much closer attention to what we have heard.” He knows well our nature, that is that we tend to forget what we hear and that we tend to drift away from our faith. Research in the secular world suggests that while it takes at least three weeks to develop a good habit, it only takes three days to unlearn that same good habit. Quite a warning to us concerning our own Christian faith and life and our own making regular and diligent use of the means of grace. More specifically this morning, the writer of this epistle warns us that we would do well to take heed of the law which shows our sins and the result or the punishment of our sin.
 
The law was given, first written on our hearts, not to save us, but to show us our sin and the seriousness of our sins. The Gospel was given to show us our Savior and to bring us salvation. And we know the Gospel as the writer instructs us that God gave witness of Jesus as the Messiah through the signs and wonders, that is through the miracles Jesus performed showing Himself to be the Messiah, even God in human flesh.
 
Adding to our understanding of the Gospel and who Jesus is, the writer continues at verse five, “5Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6It has been testified somewhere, ‘What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 7You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8putting everything in subjection under his feet.’ Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (v. 5-9).
 
When God created the world, He crowned His creation with the creation of man, humans. And as expressed in this quote from a Psalm of David, man was created above angels. Remember, angels are not human and humans do not become angels. Angels do not have a body and were created to be messengers of the Lord.  Thus, we see that man is the crown of God’s creation and is above angels. As for Jesus, He is true God and true man. And although He was created above the angels, yet for a while, while He was here on this earth, He made Himself nothing for our sakes.
 
Before His incarnation, that is before Jesus took on human flesh, He was in heaven enjoying all the glory that was His and using His divine attributes to their fullest, yet He gave that up; He gave up all the honor and glory that were His in heaven. He subjected Himself to taking on human flesh and blood. He subjected Himself to all His own laws. And, again, as the epistle writers says, “for a little while [He] was made lower than the angels.” Only while He was here on this earth did He subject Himself to be made lower than the angels.
 
In subjecting Himself, He conquered even death itself as well as the devil. It was only as a human being, it was only as one of us, His creatures that He could save us. As God in flesh, as a human being, He fulfilled all the law and all the prophecies, all the promises concerning the Messiah. In so doing He proved Himself to be the Messiah and He accomplished what we could not so that He could become our substitute.
 
But the epistle writer is not through. There is more to know of who Jesus is. We pick up at verse ten, “10For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12saying, ‘I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.’ 13And again, ‘I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.’” (v. 10-13)
 
The epistle writer reminds us that Jesus is God. He is creator with the Father and the Spirit or as he puts it, “from whom and by whom all things exist.” Jesus was there with the Father and the Holy Spirit at the creation of the world. He was there at the creation of the man and the woman.
 
After Adam and Eve sinned, God immediately stepped in and promised to send a Savior. God did not fulfill this promise immediately, but in time, Jesus was born. Jesus is true God, born in human flesh. As true God He is perfect and holy fulfilling God’s command that we be perfect even as He is perfect. As a true man He is indeed our brother and He is able to be our substitute.
 
Jesus is true God and He is true man and He is our Savior. We continue at verse fourteen, “14Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (v. 14-18).
 
Jesus is true God who took on human flesh and blood. We say that He became incarnate, that is He became in carnal or in flesh. He had to be born as human in order to be one of us in order to be our substitute or to use the language of our text, in order to be our propitiation. Certainly we all understand the concept of substituting like things for like things and the idea that one does not confuse “apples and oranges.” And so Jesus became incarnate, He took on human flesh in order to be a like substitute even our substitute.
 
As our substitute, Jesus lived under the law and yet never sinned. As our substitute Jesus suffered every temptation we might suffer and even greater temptation and yet He never sinned. As our substitute, Jesus fulfilled all of God’s laws perfectly, never disobeying even one. And as our substitute Jesus took all our sins upon Himself. He delivered us from death that is from eternal spiritual death by suffering death for us.
 
And so, He delivers us from the bondage of sin. The bondage of sin is eternal spiritual death. By faith in Jesus, faith given by the Holy Spirit; faith given through the means of grace; by faith in Jesus we have forgiveness of sins which means a release from the bondage of sin.
 
And yet, Jesus work is not over. He never ceases to care for us and watch over us. After His death and resurrection, He ascended to the right hand of the Father where He is watching over us, ruling over us and interceding for us. Because He has suffered everything and even greater suffering than we might ever suffer or think or imagine, we know that He is able to help us in times of temptation as well. And most certainly, as our brother, He is always there to guide, guard and protect us.
 
What does this mean? This morning we are reminded once again of what a great God we have. We have a God who created us. We have a God who loves us, His creatures. We have a God who shows His great love for us in the fact that He took on human flesh and blood in the person of Jesus who is God who became man in order to be our substitute.
 
This morning we are reminded that by faith in Jesus, faith which is a means or an instrument, faith which is given to us, by faith in Jesus, His perfection is our perfection. Everything that Jesus did is accounted to us. So, when God looks at us He does not see our imperfections and sin, instead He sees Jesus perfection and declares us righteous and holy.
 
This morning we are once again pointed back to Jesus. We are pointed back to the cross and to focus our attention on the cross. Jesus has defeated sin, death and the devil and He gives us eternal life where we will share in His honor and glory in heaven. What a great God we have.
 
Finally, I want to conclude with the most profound words of Jesus from the Gospel lesson for this mornings, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Jesus does all and gives all and He even knows the heart of humanity. He knows and understands the difficulties of this life and how we so often grow up as adults and we become cynical, skeptical, and doubting. We have such a great tendency to try to explain things, to distrust what we do not understand, and even to doubt what we see with our own eyes. At the same time, He understands the heart and mind of a child. Children have not yet learned to disbelieve. Children have not yet learned to distrust. And so, when it comes to matters of faith, Jesus encourages us to be as children. We are to believe Jesus, because He says so. We are to trust in Jesus because He has shown how we can trust in Him. We are to cling to Him because He is the one who has created us, redeemed us and He is the One who continues to watch over us, rule over us and intercede for us. Again, we might boldly proclaim, what a great God, what a loving God, what an almighty God we have. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.