Saturday, July 29, 2017

Pentecost 8 - Proper 12

Romans and the Reformation
A sermon series commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
30 July – Proper 12 – Romans 8:28-39

Some of you are engineers. While some of you are draftsmen and accountants and bookkeepers. A lot of you are farmers. While some of you are machinists or work in the medical field. Some of you may be students with many of your teachers sitting in this very room. In your world mathematical formulas are extremely important. Facts and figures make sense to you!

There is symmetry to the Scriptures…

The heart of Psalm 23 is the phrase, "For Thou art with me." There are exactly 26 Hebrew words before that phrase. And 26 words after it.

What's more, the numerical value of the letters in the divine name, “Yahweh,” equals 26. His name is the first Hebrew word in the psalm, and He is the "Thou" who is "with me."

The abiding presence of the Good Shepherd with us--when we're in the valley of the shadow of death, or surrounded by enemies--is the beating heart of this psalm. 1

We have now come to the crown jewel of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. By these words you know the Father’s continual goodness…

Almighty and everlasting God, give us an increase of faith, hope and love, that, receiving what You have promised, we may love what You have commanded; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.” Amen  2

God’s continual goodness
Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ

Forever in God’s Love
These words. Are usually read at funerals. For the comfort of the bereaved. These words. Are a comfort. At all times. Not only at the time of death. Probably the one thing that gives Christians a sense of security. Your peace. Is the assurance of the Father’s love and care. Lose the Lord’s love. And all is lost. To be separated from God’s concern is to be apart from His mercy, acceptance and of life itself. 

You are forever in God’s love and care because –

1. Christ conquered our enemies at the cross. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come…”  V. 38

No sin. No attempt of the enemy. Can steal the loving care of God from your life. That makes you more than conquerors through Christ who loves you. The Christian life is not a playground. But a battleground. Some want to live on easy street. They want to kick back. And just count their blessings. That isn’t the way it works. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." —Ephesians 6:12 But for you fights the valiant one. Whom God Himself elected!

A. Not even tribulation. Nothing in your present experience. Nor anything to come. Can separate you from the Father's love in Christ. Nothing in all of time. Present or future. Can separate you from God's love.

B. According to Paul, death is the final enemy.  Nothing in this life. And nothing in death can separate a believer from God's love. The two things we fear most; dying and living, are not threats to your eternal life. Whether we live or die. We are in His love. Jesus won't ever let us go. We have security that is a matter of life and death.

C. Evil powers. They surround you. On every side. But you are in Christ. Nothing will befall you without His knowledge or consent. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” – Matthew 10:29 “Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns--and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26   

Transition: Dankness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that. The light of Christ.   

2. Faith in Christ gives us the victory. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” V. 37 We are conquerors only “through [Christ] who loved us.” At another time Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Christians do conquer. But not on their own power. It is Christ who gives the strength to overcome all enemies. “…for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4

A. That great exchange. God’s mercy in place of and replacing your misery and sin.

B. Purchased and won for you at the bloody cross. That was the purpose of Christ’s suffering and death. That you might be His own. And live under Him in His kingdom. And serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. Just as He is risen from the dead. Lives and reigns to all eternity.3   “…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:28

Transition: The problems of this world are here and now. They are all around us. We do not war against flesh and blood. You do not war against people. They are merely being used. You war in order to set them free. How do we war? Through Jesus Christ. Because He already defeated those evil powers on His cross.  Expressing the Father’s love.  

3. The Father’s love will not let you go.  “…no powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” V. 39 Nothing in the universe can separate us from the love of God. It is impossible. Because on the cross Christ defeated all evil powers. In Christ you conquer. What does it mean to be separated from the love of God? Sin is separation from God. To be apart from God is to be deprived of God’s light, life, and love. Separation is the worst possible experience. This, then, constitutes good news. No suffering or evil power can separate you from the love of God.

Satan lacks the power to steal your eternal destiny. He cannot separate you from the love of God. Nothing you face worries God in the least. If you are His children through faith in His Son, then you have His pledge of love and protection. Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand." - John 10:27–29

A. You are loved. “This is how God’s love was revealed among us: God sent His one and only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. And love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” - 1 John 4:8-10

B. You are forever in Christ’s care. In baptism, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever. In baptism, the Father claims you as His own children. And tells you that you are loved.  You are joined with the family of faith, the Church, the Body of Christ. As you are incorporated into the life and the mission of Christ’s work in the world. 

Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things
Words – 1,075
Passive Words – 7%
Readability – 85%
Reading Level –3.5

1.   Blog post from Chad Bird posted July 26, 2017
2.   Collect for Proper 12, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis.
3.  Explanation to the 2nd Article of the Apostles’ Creed, Luther’s Small Catechism © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis.

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