Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pentecost 20 - Proper 24

The amazement of the disciples at Jesus' words reflects their cultural background. They placed a great emphasis on the privileged position of the rich. To be wealthy was believed to be sure and certain evidence of having the blessing of God. If you prosper God must be smiling down up on you was their thinking. But with His penetrating spiritual insight, Jesus saw how wealth could hinder someone from putting their trust and dependence in God.

For the rich to enter the kingdom of God simply because of their wealth is indeed impossible. The proverb Jesus quotes was not lost on the disciples. “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! (Vs.25) It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” As their question "Who then can be saved?" shows that they completely understood it.

Jesus, the greatest teacher who has ever lived points us to the solution. His answer makes clear that “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”(V.27) On this Mission Sunday we affirm three realities.

1. Salvation is totally the work of God.

A. There are two things we have in common. We are sinners. Because of Adam’s fall we find ourselves fallen people, living in a fallen and broken world. Why do bad things happen? We’re living in a broken world. We’re living in a sinful world. We’re living in a world that has gone astray. Because of this broken world filled with lost and broken people we can not come to God by ourselves. That’s why we teach our children a simple yet powerful hymn:“In Adam we have all been one, one huge rebellious man. We all have fled that welcome voice that sought us when we ran.”

B. It is God alone who totally responsible for our salvation. We don’t wake up one day deciding to turn our life over to Jesus. He is the one who chooses to redeem and save us. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10) Jesus became personally responsible for the sins of His people. He paid for their sins once for all on the cross of Calvary. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5-6).

Transition: Salvation is totally the work of God. We need His grace to fulfill it.

2. Apart from the grace of God, it is impossible for anyone to enter God's kingdom.

A. Recall the explanation to the 3rd Article of the Apostles’ Creed. I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but he Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”

B. Thank God for His amazing and life changing grace. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6 8)

Transition: Salvation is totally the work of God. It comes to us by grace and grace alone. That is why God alone receives the credit.

3. Humanly speaking no one can be saved by his or her own efforts; but what we can never do for ourselves, God does for us.

A. John in his Gospel explains it this way, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us.”(John 1) It is Jesus who broke into time and space to be our savior. He took on flesh to bear our sin and bring us to salvation. “He bore our sin in His own body on the tree that we might die to sin and live unto righteousness.”

B. This is the story of the Gospel. That’s the story of God’s amazing grace! What we can’t do for ourselves God does for us. In the end – God wins!

With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God. May the Lord so use you to do the impossible. With Christ at the center all things are possible!

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