Showing posts from June, 2019

Sermon on Galatians 3:23-4:7, for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, "Law. Justified. Faith"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. What can turn us from prisoners, slaves, or children under guardianship and into freed people, adopted sons, and full-fledged heirs of God? That’s the change our reading is about today. We’ll look closer to see how, but first of all realize this isn’t a status change we can accomplish by our power. Getting free from the power and slavery of sin is something only God can do by His grace. Only He can make us His heirs. This is about what God does for us, not what we can do for ourselves. First, you should know the audience of this letter. Galatia was a Roman province in the middle of what is now Turkey, and Galatians is one of St. Paul’s most important letters. So urgent that he skips his usual formalities and launches sharply to the point. With fiery urgency he tells them the very Gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake. They’re surrendering the true Gospel for a counterfeit. His urgent message is sent to get them

Sermon on various OT passages for Trinity Sunday, "Tracing the Trinity in the Old Testament"

            In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Today is Trinity Sunday. This Sunday is unique on the Christian calendar, because it doesn’t commemorate an event, miracle, or a person, but rather a doctrine. The teaching of the Trinity is central to the Christian faith. Attacked for centuries, but always defended as the orthodox or correct teaching of the Bible. From the earliest centuries the Creeds were confessed to defend against distortions of the Bible, especially about the Trinity. We could get stuck on the semantics of the word “Trinity”. The word itself is not found in the Bible, but that’s not the important question. The important question is whether the teaching is found in the Bible. We simply use “Trinity” to describe how God shows Himself in Scripture; as Three Persons, One God .             I assume most or all of you already believe the teaching of the Trinity. You believe and confess that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—thre

Sermon on Genesis 11:1-9 and Acts 2:1-21, Pentecost Sunday, "Languages, Unity and Disunity"

            Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen. Today our two readings are both about languages, and unity or disunity. In the Old Testament story of the Tower of Babel, all the earth once spoke one language and had the same words. But because of what happened there, God confused their languages, dividing them, so they couldn’t understand each other. The story of Pentecost, in Acts, is about how people of many different languages united across language barriers to hear a singular, important message. Let’s look at each story in turn, and see how Pentecost starts to reverse the age-old division of languages at Babel, and create a new unity around Jesus Christ. In the words of the crowds on Pentecost: “ we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God .”             At the Tower of Babel humans unified in their defiance of God, so He scattered them. All through the Bible, God repeatedly humbles or brings low everyo

Sermon on Revelation 22, for the 7th Sunday of Easter, "Tree of Life"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. The book of Revelation is like a bookend to the Bible, together with the book of Genesis. The first and last books of the Bible, have some important links. The creation of the world is described in Genesis 1 & 2, and the highlight is Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, with the Tree of Life at its center. They could eat from Tree of Life and other trees, but one tree was off-limits—the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Tragically, they took what was off-limits instead of what was permitted. The first sin was disobeying God. Ever since, through all 66 books of the Bible—no one has access to the Tree of Life. An angel barred the way back for Adam and Eve. Humanity fell under the consequences of sin and evil—from Adam and Eve till us now—and our choices haven’t been any different from theirs. We have all followed in their first sin, continuing to disobey God. Looking across human history, the Bible delive