This sermon was given at First Reformed Church on September 16, 2018 in Edgerton, MN.
Sermon delivered on September 9, 2018 at First Reformed Church in Edgerton, MN.
Sermon delivered on Sunday, September 2, 2018 in Edgerton, MN at First Reformed Church
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:22-23
Last month I shared that I had been experiencing some television nostalgia by watching the Andy Griffith show. Enjoying stepping back into the past inspired me to watch another show that I watched as a child. When I was younger there was nothing more exciting than Friday evening at 7:00 PM. The was when "The Dukes of Hazzard" would come through the airwaves to channel 11 on our TV set. The show had cars flying through the air and arrows with sticks of dynamite attached to them. What's not to love?
As I was feeling the nostalgia and laughing at how corny the show is, one scene jumped out at me. One of the more popular characters in the series was Deputy Enos Strate. He was notorious for being an all around good guy. During the episode I was viewing, the Duke boys and Enos are riding in a car. As so often happens on the show the brakes of their car fail. The car careens down a mountain road and extreme measures need to be taken. The old wreck they are driving plows through a fence and splashes into a pond. As the camera angle moves us to a view inside the car we see the virtuous Enos with his eyes closed. He tells his companions that he fears opening his eyes. He says "What do you see out there? A bunch of naked babies with harps and wings or a bunch of red fellers with horns and pitchforks?"
Obviously, this statement is to make us laugh but it exposes something in the way in which so many of us view our status before God. In the minds of a lot of people our eternal destiny is up for grabs. We teeter on the brink of either heaven or hell and where we end up is determined by the good or bad that we do in each moment. While this may serve a purpose to cause some people to behave in a more positive way,it isn't the Christian way of viewing salvation.
When we talk about whether or not we are saved we don't speak about the individual deeds that we do piling up on the scales to determine which side is more loaded. We talk about assurance of salvation and a trust in the promise of God to save his people. Our salvation is rooted in the work that Jesus did for us in his life, death, and resurrection. If we have been given the gift of repentance and faith in Christ then we are in him. We don't have to wonder what we will see when we breathe our last. We know that we shall see our Savior face to face. This is because our sin has been atoned for and we have been given the greatest gift of the righteousness of Jesus. We are not teetering between the good place and the bad place. We are right now seen as righteous in God's sight.
This has application for us not only when we think about eternity but in our daily lives too. As we saw in Hebrews 10:22 we can draw near to God in full assurance. We do not think of God in such a way that every move we make is sliding us back and forth between his favor and his wrath. Because we are in Christ we know that we can come before God and serve him in freedom. His promise of salvation is sure because he is faithful. So we have a sure confidence in this life and the next. A confidence rooted in who God is and what he has done for us.
Sermon delivered on August 26 in Edgerton, MN at First Reformed Church
Sermon delivered at First Reformed Church in Edgerton, MN on August 19, 2018.
Sermon given on August 14, 2018 at First Reformed Church
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. – 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
In the past few weeks I have been viewing the classic television series "The Andy Griffith Show". I have many fond memories from watching the reruns of this show with my father when I was in high school. Each day we would return home at roughly the same time and watch the show together. I am certain I have seen most, if not all, of the episodes. Even though I can recall moments from the show most of episode plots now escape me. It is because of this that viewing the show again has been enjoyable for me. It is very nostalgic for me to watch this black and white classic but my 12-year-old son believes it would be more entertaining if it was in color.
One episode that stuck out to me as I was watching recently involved a plot centered around Sheriff Andy Taylor being out of town. The legendary deputy Barney Fife is left in charge and to give him a hand he has deputized local mechanic Gomer Pyle. These two hapless deputies are walking through town and realize that someone is robbing the town's bank. They quickly hide behind a car in fear. After a few moments of wondering what they should do Gomer has a solution. He turns to Deputy Fife and says "Shazam! We need to call the police." Completely exasperated Barney says back to Gomer "We are the police!"
Many times in our Christian walk we can be so much like Gomer. We don't realize who we are in Jesus Christ. We are new creations and we have been set free from sin by the work of Jesus. We are his. He has bought us and redeemed us. It is because we are in him that we can trust that we are safe and secure in him.
Many of the statements I just made are things we are familiar with and yet we fail to live in light of that good news. This is because we are entrenched in a world that is twisted and broken by sin and we will never be free of this until our death or the return of Jesus. With this in mind, I would like to return to the story of Barney and Gomer. Really, it is hard to find fault in the response of Gomer. He is not used to wearing the slick khaki uniform of a deputy in Mayberry. He is instead accustomed to turning wrenches at the garage. No wonder he is out of sorts when confronted with a bank robbery occurring right in front of him. He is not only woefully unprepared to combat a bank robbery, but he is not used to approaching his life from the perspective of an officer of the law.
It is so important that we are fed by the Word of God. If we are to understand who we are and to grow in holiness we must prepare ourselves with the means by which God has ordained our sanctification. God the Holy Spirit works in us not randomly and haphazardly as though we are getting conformed to the image of Christ just walking around randomly. The Spirit works through Word and sacrament to do this. It is so vital that we are in God's Word and attending Lord's Day worship.
You are a new creation in Christ. As we grow in grace and the Holy Spirit works in us we will see this coming through in our lives. While we do not reach perfection in this life we are confronted with our sin, comforted with the gospel, and God grants us the gift of repentance to love and serve him in his world. As we journey through this life may we come to embrace our identity in Jesus and never doubt who we are or whose we are.
Sermon given on August 5, 2018 at First Reformed Church
Sermon delivered in Edgerton, MN at First Reformed Church on July 22, 2018.