Sermon – Luke 6.36-42 (Trinity 4 – 2022)

Let us pray: O Lord God, heavenly Father: You are merciful, and through Christ promised us that You will neither judge nor condemn us, but graciously forgive us all our sins, and abundantly provide for all our wants of body and soul: We pray that by Your Holy Spirit You would establish in our hearts a confident faith in Your mercy, and teach us also to be merciful to our neighbor, that we may not judge or condemn others, but willingly forgive all, and, judging only ourselves, lead blessed lives in Your fear; through Your dear Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

36 “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

 37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

 38 “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

 39 And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?

 40 “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.

 41 “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?

 42 “Or how can you say to your brother,`Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

These are Your Words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

Kyrie Eleison. “Lord, have mercy.” The blind man, the lepers, the Syrophoenician woman, and others cried these words to Jesus, seeking His mercy, His compassion, His help.

And we sing these same words in the liturgy. In the Divine Service, Rite 1, it comes after the confession of sins. There, we’re asking that in mercy God would forgive us our sins. In Rite 2, it comes after the pronouncement of absolution. There, having our sins already forgiven by God, we ask that God also show mercy to us in regard to our Christian lives on this earth. In this Matin’s service, we are asking God for His merciful help again for our lives on earth. Psalm 116 (:5) says, “Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful.” He is merciful, and He has shown Himself in history to be merciful, and so we pray, desiring His mercy. In fact, ἐλέησόν, is an imperative. It’s more than a wish. We’re crying to God, expecting Him to show mercy upon us, because He has so promised to be merciful.

The word in our text for mercy is οἰκτίρμονες. It is an adjective expressing the character or quality of having mercy. It is showing compassion and kindness, especially to those who are indebted to you, or who are under your authority.

We are under the authority of God, and rely upon Him since He is our Creator and we are His creation. And we are indebted to God because of our sin. According to His justice, He could rightfully condemn us. But He is merciful to us.

It should go without saying, we should also be merciful. Jesus says, “Be merciful, as your your Father is merciful.” It would be foolish not to show mercy, and Jesus in the text explains that for us.

First of all, the foolishness of not being merciful is that it would be against God’s own command that we be merciful. To not fear God and disobey Him is the height of foolishness.

But also, we have no right to withhold mercy from our neighbor. It would be immoral of us to withhold mercy by judging and condemning our neighbor. It is foolish in two ways, first, because of who we are in relation to our neighbor. It can be explained by an example of a situation that sometimes happens in a home with multiple children. It happens that one child likes to be take some authority for himself, and be a bit bossy toward the other children, threatening them with punishment. To the son acting this way, we say, “You’re not the dad.” And to the daughter, “You’re not the mom.” You don’t have the authority to act in such a way.

In the same way, we do not in our personal relationships have the authority to be judge over others, to execute justice, to hold grudges, or to hold the debt of sins that others have against you. Now, we may make them aware of their sins and the danger of their sins, like a caring child can lovingly warn a disobedient sibling, “you’re going get hurt,” or “you’re going to get in trouble with dad.” In fact, it is loving to warn them of the danger of their sins, but it is not for us to hold on to the sins of others. That is an authority we do not have.

It would be wicked of us to let the sins of others prevent us from showing mercy and love toward them. In fact, Jesus tells us how far this mercy must go, He says, in a few verses preceding our text, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you” (Luke 6:27-28). And if this is said about those who are your enemies, what love and mercy is expected of you towards those who are your brothers and sisters in the faith. This mercy is quite the opposite of having a resentful disposition towards your neighbor, speaking lies or gossip about your neighbor, ignoring the needs of your neighbor, or assuming poor motives in your neighbor’s words or actions.

Now, I just want to touch on one more point about judging using the illustration of the siblings. Sometimes the parent does give the oldest child authority when the kids are left home alone. That child speaks on behalf of the parent. When the child says to his siblings, “You need to pick up the toys you played with,” or “it’s time to go to bed,” he speaks with the authority of the parent. When he threatens, he threatens with the authority of the parent. So also, the Church is given the authority of the keys, to say with the authority of God the Judge, “Your sins are forgiven you,” or “You remain condemned in your sin, as long as you do not repent.” For Jesus has said, “Whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). Again, this is done out of love.

Now, another reason that withholding mercy is foolish is that in order to withhold mercy, you must first be blinded by pride from seeing your own log of sins. It is easy to look to the sins of others and say, “I will not be kind, nor will I be compassionate, because they have sinned in such a way. They have offended me. Thus I will exalt myself over them, hold their sin against them, and treat them accordingly.” But have you forgotten your own sin? Consider yourself the greater sinner. That sin in your neighbor is a speck, and yes it ought to be dealt with, but first recognize, not the little speck, but that wretched log of sin in your own eyes. Consider yourself unworthy of mercy.

I will be of no help to my neighbor who sins, if I do not first recognize my own sins. I would merely be a blind person leading the blind. How foolish it is then to withhold mercy from our neighbor?

Oh, how we have been fools, exalting our own sinful selves in self-righteous judgment over other sinners. How we have been blind to our own stack of sins in pride, and held the speck of sins against our neighbor? We certainly are not deserving of mercy.

But thanks be to God for His foolish mercy! This is the foolishness of the gospel that Paul talks about. Man’s wisdom says that we must make up for our sins. Man’s wisdom demands justice from our neighbor, yet it believes that we can justify ourselves before the demands of God, which include that we ought to be as merciful as He is.

But the mercy of God puts to shame the wisdom of man. God is the authority, He is our Creator, and we His creation. He is the judge. He could rightfully condemn us. Instead, what does He do? He is merciful! He sends His Son into the world to suffer and die for us sinners. While we were still sinners, while we were being unmerciful, being self-righteous, prideful, and withholding forgiveness and kindness, while we were murderers in thought, word, and deed, Christ died for us, to take away our sins, and reconcile us to the Father. His blood has washed away every speck and plank of sin from our eyes. You are cleansed! That’s the only way it goes away. His life has redeemed ours!

It seems so foolish! It seems so wasteful that He would show such mercy to sinners! The brother of the prodigal son remained at home with his Father, while his brother squandered his inheritance and lived so disgracefully. And when the prodigal returned, the brother who stayed at home thought it was foolish and wasteful that his Father, would slaughter the fatted calf, and prepare such a great feast for this son who has returned. Yet, this is the great mercy of our God. There is nothing better in the world than this mercy of God.

In mercy, He grants us baptism by which we are made God’s own. In mercy, He prepares table in this wilderness, giving us a lavish feast of His eternal life giving body and blood. In mercy, He gathers us here to share with us the news of His mercy, and His bountiful forgiveness for you!

In mercy, He grants you His Holy Spirit, so that you may also be as foolish and lavish in granting mercy and forgiveness towards others as God has done to you. This is the fruit of faith, the faith created and preserved in us by the Holy Spirit. This is the faith that receives God’s forgiveness and mercy.

May God, by His mercy, preserve us in this faith, and produce us such beautiful fruit. May He, who gave His Son up for our eternal salvation, keep our lives, body and soul, in His merciful care. With the promise of His merciful kindness, we pray this with full confidence that He will do it. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.


Sermon – Luke 15.1-10 (Trinity 3 – 2022)

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, we all like sheep have gone astray, having allowed ourselves to be led away from the right path by Satan and our own sinful flesh. We beseech You graciously to forgive us all our sins for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ; and enliven our hearts by Your Holy Spirit that we may abide in Your Word, and in true repentance and a steadfast faith continue in Your Church unto the end, and obtain eternal salvation; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.

 2 And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.”

 3 So He spoke this parable to them, saying:

 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

 5 “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

 6 “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them,`Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’

 7 “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

 8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?

 9 “And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying,`Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’

 10 “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

 (Lk. 15:1-10 NKJ)

These are Your words heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Good News for Sinners

Dear fellow redeemed,

While “repentance” is something that all of heaven rejoices in, the same thing is despised by the world. The Greek “metanoia” literally means, “turn around.” It means to admit your sinful heart and the sins that flow from it, and to turn from them to Christ, who forgives you your sins.

The world wants nothing of this. Many will deny their sins; many wish to continue in their sins unbothered, and desire that sin even be embraced. We just got through June, which many called pride month, and we were bombarded with messages about embracing sexual immorality, perversions of God’s creation and so on. While they try to gather the world’s acceptance of their sins, they hate our stance on biblical morality, because the truth pricks their consciences. Many in the world will even admit their sins, but they think they can continue in them with no offense given to God, and they often bring up the passage we see in our text, “Jesus receives sinners and eats with them.” But they often don’t consider that Jesus calls these sinners “lost”. These sinners have a condition that is to be mourned over. What Jesus desires of them is that they repent of their sins. Besides these who deny or excuse their sins, there are many in the world that do have contrition over its sins, but to turn to a man that died on the cross as its solution is offensive. Therefore, they still lack true repentance.

But you and I can understand the world’s reaction to righteous judgments. We can understand it because we do not like hearing righteous judgments that expose our sins either. When your spouse, or friend, or parent point out the sin that your committing, I doubt that your first reaction would be of thankfulness and humble repentance. I’m guessing that it looks more like denial, defensiveness, or anger. Yes, that our prideful old Adam.

Our old Adam in us likes to be coddled doesn’t he? That old sinful Adam in us, our sinful nature, likes to go on its own way unhindered, and not just unhindered, but celebrated and encouraged. If you weren’t new creations in Christ, born again of water and the word, wouldn’t you have liked it if instead of committing your favorite sins under the cover of secrecy, you had a movement in the world that worked to gather acceptance and embrace your sin?

But the Christian message doesn’t coddle the Old Adam at all. The Christian message is about the death of the Old Adam and salvation from our sins. Don’t follow your heart. Deny it. Turn from yourself, from whom you are as a sinner. With contrite and sorrowful heart turn from the sinful mess you are. But that’s just half of it isn’t it. Turn to Christ, your Savior, who receives you and in whom there is forgiveness and righteousness. In Him, you are saved from your sinfulness, and are made into a forgiven, righteous people of God!

Now, God loves all people, “God so loved the world.” Jesus shed His blood and died for all people. But our text highlights Jesus’ love for “sinners.” Jesus received them and ate with them. The Pharisees were offended by it! If Jesus is a Jewish teacher, a holy man come from God, if He were the Son of Man as He claimed He is, He would not be in such despicable company. Why is He associating with such scum? Look there are tax collectors, traitors, and prostitutes with Him.

But you see, these are the ones for whom Jesus came. These were the people who were aware of their sins. The law had brought them to the knowledge of their lost condition. But then Christ had drawn them to His grace and mercy, and they found joy and peace in His word of forgiveness and salvation. The Pharisees thought that these sinners were beneath them. The Pharisees were holy, so they thought. The idea of repentance was offensive to them. They thought they have earned God’s grace. They weren’t lost. They weren’t broken. They had no need of being saved.

And so Jesus wasn’t for them. Of course, they were every bit as much sinners as the sinners sitting around Jesus, and they most definitely needed Jesus and salvation, but as long as they do not acknowledge their sinfulness, Jesus was of no benefit to them.

And so it is with the impenitent. With the holy people, with the good people, the nice people, the moral people, Jesus is of no benefit to them. There is no rejoicing in heaven over them. They are without salvation.

But to those who are lost and broken, those who are sinners to the core, who sorrow over who they are, those confess with their hearts, “we are by nature sinful and unclean and we have sinned against You by thought, word, and deed,” If that is you, someone is looking for you!

He is coming through thorns and briar, in the danger of wolves and bear, He comes even enduring ridicule and mockery, He comes even through cross and grave for you. He comes to cleanse you of your sins. With His pierced hands, and putting you upon His shoulders that bore your sins He exalts us in His forgiveness and righteousness, that our identity is no longer in our broken sinfulness, but our identity is in Him. We are Christians.

Though we, the world, and the devil rightly calls us sinners, we say, “Yes, I am a sinner, but I happily admit it, because Jesus receives sinners. He comes for me and saves me! He puts me upon His shoulders and takes me home. And all of heaven rejoices over my repentance!”

That’s the good news of Christ for us sinners.

But Jesus isn’t going just after you is He? He comes for every one of us. And in His great love He comes for other sinners, too! To your neighbors, loved ones and enemies alike. God desires all people to repent, to believe in Him and His Word and live.

Christ was willing to associate with such sinners, let us not do as the Pharisees and think ourselves above them. If we remember who we are and the saving love for us, that surely changes the way that we look at everyone else around us. There is no sinner, no scum, no wretch of the earth under us. But as Christ was willing to associate with me, even love me so much to come and find me, so shall we see the love of Christ for each person we come across every single day and we will show love and mercy toward them. And as Christ comes and seeks me out and guards and keeps me through His Word, through this message of good news for sinners, we shall let Christ loose on them through the proclamation of His gospel. God grant that we have this love and work and grant it fruit that by our neighbors repentance we may, with all the host of heaven, rejoice!

Repent! Turn from who you are! You are a sinner, and you have committed a multitude of sins! Yes, I will repent with sorrow of my sin, but I will also repent with rejoicing because Christ receives such as me. He puts me on His shoulders, there is room for us all. There we are at home with Him, until He finally carries us to our eternal home where we shall see Him face to face! Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be; forevermore. Amen.


Sermon – Luke 14.16-24 (Trinity 2 – 2022)

“Save Us from Apathy, and Give Us Love for You and Your Word”

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, we give thanks to You, that through Your holy Word You have called us to Your great supper, and we beseech You: Enliven our hearts by Your Holy Spirit, that we may not hear Your Word without fruit, but that we may prepare ourselves rightly for Your kingdom, and not allow ourselves to be hindered by any worldly care; through Your beloved Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

 18 “But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him,`I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’

 19 “And another said,`I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’

 20 “Still another said,`I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’

 21 “So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant,`Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’

 22 “And the servant said,`Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’

 23 “Then the master said to the servant,`Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

 24 `For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.'”

These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

According to a recent Lifeway poll of protestant pastors, the primary “people dynamic” challenge in the Church is apathy, or as some have termed it apatheism. One article described it this way, “It is the theological stance of answering the ‘God question’ with a shoulder shrug and a teenage-like ‘whatever’.” (Giatti, Ian. Christian Post, “The Rise of ‘Apatheism’ and What It Means for Christians and the Gospel.) It is not a theological stance, but rather an attitude of indifference or of not caring. An apatheist does not care to deny the existence of God. An apatheist could even acknowledge God’s existence, but still be disinterested in that truth.

It’s not surprising that people have this attitude, but it is completely unreasonable. The large majority of people acknowledge the obvious truth that a God exists. If a person acknowledges this, what are some of the next logical questions? Who is this God? What does He think of me? What does He expect of me? Am I accountable to Him? Will there be a judgment? And if so, how will I be judged? These are serious questions! Can there be any more important questions than these? An agnostic might say that we can’t know the answers to these questions. That is a theological claim: the claim that God is unknowable. An apatheist, however, would not make a theological claim about those questions, but would rather say, “Meh. It doesn’t matter to me.”

We ought to recognize the danger of apathy that we might find in our hearts. Our fallen hearts are already predisposed to such an attitude. But what is it around us that has really increased the apathy towards God and His Word? Perhaps it is because our culture has been so conditioned to make us think life all about pleasure. Media entertainment trains us to become passive and unthinking consumers of pleasure. The sexual revolution was all about discarding self-control, chastity and sexual morality to chase one’s own sexual pleasures. Of course, abortion is key to this perverse pursuit. Thanks be to God, Roe vs. Wade was overturned this week, so that infanticide is no longer a federally protected right. What else may have brought about this desire for pleasure and apathy toward things eternal? Perhaps, when the raising and training of children became focused on no more than becoming functional, nice, and happy people in this world. If pleasure is the goal, what does God have to do with our pleasure in the here and now? Does He matter? To many, the answer is no. And unfortunately, a godless culture seeking pleasure has only created more dysfunction, trouble, and grief.

But this isn’t new. Solomon, who said there is nothing new under the sun, said that the seeking of pleasure apart from God is vanity, useless. It’s satisfaction doesn’t last. It is like a chasing after the wind.

Another aspect of apathy that is relevant today, is the apathy about the truths of God’s Word. Yesterday was June the 25th, the anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. There the Lutheran princes presented the biblical truths that the Lutherans confessed before the Catholic Roman Emperor, Charles V. They cared about these truths so much, they were risking their lives for them.

God tells us to “contend for the faith, once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). But what do we see today even within visible Christendom? We see an apathy towards God’s Word, apathy to the truth. Many will think such discussions and arguments over doctrines silly squabbles. God keep us from becoming apathetic to the truth of God’s Word, and no longer striving for its purity among us. For it is by the truth of God’s Word that we are saved.

We see apathy in our text today, don’t we? It is apathy toward the feast that the master has prepared. This is the feast of salvation. The invitation is to take hold of the gospel. It was given first to the Jews. Here is the true God, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. He has made Himself known to you in His Son. You have been told of the one who would crush the serpent’s head. You have been offering sacrifices; well, here is the One whose sacrifice takes away the sins of the world. Look to Him, who is proof that God loves you, and wishes to save you, and give you life with Him forever. Your Messiah has come. Your salvation has arrived. The supper is ready. Come, believe in Him.

But what response is given? “Meh? No thanks.”

And then the Master sends His servant into the highways and hedges, to send that invitation that began in Jerusalem, to all the world to you and to me. Here is Christ for you! Your Savior. The One who answers for your sin, big or small, and takes them all away. You will find in Him peace and comfort that will not end. He gives you eternal life.

But beware of the apathy. Who are these showing the indifference to the invitation? One must go check out the land he bought. Perhaps, this is really an disingenuous excuse and lie, because it seems silly that one would buy land without seeing it first. Nonetheless, it is his land that he is concerned about. There is no intention to be a Christian landowner, rather, he remains a lost landowner. The other man just purchased five yoke of oxen. He must go test them. This man is seeking to be a responsible business owner, a productive member of society. But he is apathetic to the invitation. There is no desire to be a Christian business owner, rather, he remains a lost business owner. The third man just got married. He figures he ought to be a good husband, and must tend to her. Though he forgets that a good man cares not only for the physical and emotional needs of his wife, but also for the spiritual needs of his wife and brings her to Christ and His Word. But the man in our text does not care for the feast in the first place. Why would he think it is important for his wife if it is not important to him? Such is his attitude toward the feast. He has no desire to be a Christian husband, but he remains a lost husband.

Beware of the apathy of the heart. The Lord said in Revelation, “Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Rev 3:16).

Let this law strike us out of our apathy. God is a just judge, a consuming fire. And we are sinners. If we will not feast at His table in the kingdom of God through faith, we will in unbelief drink the cup of His wrath even to the bitter dregs.

But remember God’s great love for you. See how much He desires for you to come to His feast. How greatly He wishes for you to dine with Him at table, in perfect love and peace. He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ to drink the full cup of His wrath over your sins, so that you are forgiven, and now through Christ, have the right to sit at the table with Him.

You do not have to take bites at the air, hoping to get a little bit of Christ. But rather here is the Word of Christ’s forgiveness for you! What rich fare! Eat it. Take it by faith, and your hunger for righteousness is satisfied. In the Lord’s Supper, the true body and blood is offered to you. Eating of His body and drinking His blood with believing hearts, you have the forgiveness of all your sins and the eternal life He has won for you.

May God’s great mercy and love for you make you lovers of Him, and give you delight to partake of His feast of salvation. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen


Sermon – Luke 16.19-31 (Trinity 1 – 2022)

Reflecting Our Treasure

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, we beseech You so to rule and govern our hearts by Your Holy Spirit, that we may not, like the rich man, hear Your Word in vain, and become so devoted to things temporal that we forget things eternal; but that we readily and according to our ability serve those who are in need, and not defile ourselves with carousing and pride; in trial and misfortune keep us from despair, and grant us to put our trust wholly in Your fatherly help and grace, so that in faith and Christian patience we may overcome all things; through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen. 

Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.

 20 “But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate,

 21 “desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

 22 “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.

 23 “And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

 24 “Then he cried and said,`Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’

 25 “But Abraham said,`Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.

 26 `And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

 27 “Then he said,`I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house,

 28 `for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’

 29 “Abraham said to him,`They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’

 30 “And he said,`No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’

 31 “But he said to him,`If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.'”

These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

Why did the rich man go to hell? He went to hell, because he was an unbeliever. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned.” Unbelief condemns.

But Jesus doesn’t really focus on the unbelief does He. He doesn’t have to. He’s pointing out the sin of the rich man. He’s talking about what the unbelief of the rich man looks like. It’s not the possession of riches that is the mark of his unbelief. Believers, like the patriarchs of the Old Testament and David, can have riches. Rather the rich man’s unbelief looks like the love of money, greed, and lovelessness.

This shows us the importance between faith and life, and exposes the disconnect that so many have. They think that they can believe in Jesus, but then go on living greedily, being uncaring towards their neighbors in need, holding grudges against their neighbor, neglecting the hearing of God’s Word, or having sex outside of marriage. This is hypocrisy. St. John writes, “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:8-9 ESV). They may say they know Jesus, but their unrepentant sin, like that of the rich man, shows their unbelief. And Jesus will say to them, “I do not know you. You are of the devil.”

But by God’s grace, you have come to know the treasure of Christ, and His riches of forgiveness and eternal life. Look at the precious righteousness He has obtained for you. His perfect life, a pure white robe without blemish for you to wear, that you may sit blameless at the heavenly feast in the rejoicing in the presence of Christ.

See what His suffering and shed blood has won for you? In Him you have forgiveness for every sin. He has even answered for your original sin. You are freed from all guilt. You are cleansed. You are washed. You are justified.

And see where this treasure is to be found, it is found in Moses and the Prophets. There you find Christ, who is the answer to your sin, death, and condemnation. There you find the heavenly treasures of Christ for you hear, to be washed, and fed, to be received by faith.

And there is nothing greater than this! No greater treasure! And that is why we repent daily. Repentance is to turn from our sins, turn from our love of money, and love for the world, and to turn to our true and eternal treasure, our Lord, Jesus Christ. We turn to Him to receive from Him the forgiveness and righteousness and eternal life that He has won for us by His grace.

So we examine our own lives and repent of the sins and guilt. And we especially look for those sins our sinful flesh loves and wants to hold on to and continue in—the sins which we are most hesitant to turn from, or least willing to admit. How dangerous these sins are!

But flee to Christ, for in Him there is forgiveness for those sins. With one brief word that He has given His Church, He takes them all away, and removes from you that one thing that stands in the way of the heavenly treasures He has won for you. That word: “I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Dear friends, forgiveness, righteousness, and eternal life are yours, the most priceless treasures, purchased by the blood of Christ are given as a free gift to you!

So, since by God’s grace, Christ is our portion and heaven is our inheritance, our hearts are set upon these precious treasures, and this shapes our confession and lives in the world. It effects the decisions we make, how we treat our neighbor, the stewardship of our time and money, our attitude toward Christ’s ministry and Christian fellowship, how we raise our children, and so on.

But also consider also another way . The rich man in death wished that he could warn his brothers. Abraham said that the only thing that could prevent them from the torments of hell is Moses and the Prophets, namely, God’s Word.

When the time comes that you die and enjoy the riches of seeing Jesus face to face, you leave behind you one major opportunity to share God’s Word with those who mourn your death. You have a prime opportunity to testify to your family and friends of Christ, their Savior. It is in your obituary and in your funeral. In these, proclaim Christ who has obtained for you life in paradise, and the work that He has done in your life to finally bring you to heaven, such as your baptism, the Word and the Sacrament of the Altar. In your funeral, let it be all about Jesus! For hymns, instead of having hymns that are of a more sentimental nature, have hymns that clearly proclaim Christ crucified, and the treasures that He has won for all those who attend. To ensure that this happens, especially if you have family that might be involved in planning your funeral that doesn’t see the proclamation of Christ as the highest priority, I can help you get these things in writing.

Dear friends, you are the richest people in the whole world, even at this very moment, because you have Jesus and His forgiveness. And through Him, you also have God as your Father, and His heavenly mansions are your inheritance. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.


Sermon – Romans 11.33-36 (Trinity Sunday – 2022)

Let us pray: O Lord God, heavenly Father: We poor sinners confess that in our flesh dwells no good thing, and that, left to ourselves, we die and perish in sin, since that which is born of flesh is flesh and cannot see the kingdom of God. But we pray that You would grant us Your grace and mercy, and for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, send Your Holy Spirit into our hearts, that being regenerate we may firmly believe the forgiveness of sins according to Your promise in baptism, and that we may daily increase in Christian love and in other good works, until we at last obtain eternal salvation; through the same Your beloved Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

 34 “For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?”

 35 “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?”

 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Rom. 11:33-36 NKJ)

These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

God wrote through His prophet, Isaiah, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” This passage expresses the transcendence of God. Who He is and His works are out of reach for us! His nature and works are beyond what the human mind can know. But God mercifully reveals to us who He is and His will through Scripture and through the coming of Christ into the world. God, though far above us, becomes immanent, that is He comes among us, to be known and received through faith. Through Christ and His Word, God is with us, knowable to us, yet this knowing and receiving of God is not something that we come about by human effort or reason, but it is a gift of God through the work of the Holy Spirit.

In the words which we just read, Paul is expressing awe and wonder at God and His wisdom and His ways. In the previous chapters, Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, wrote how God, in His perfect wisdom, knows exactly how get His elect from among the Jews and Gentiles to the goal of eternal life. God man’s wicked disobedience and jealousy, and also His own judgment to bring the Gospel to the elect. God’s nature is beyond us, but He often works in ways that we wouldn’t expect such a mighty and infinite God would work. And so Paul humbles himself before God, in awe of His wisdom and mercy.

These words of Paul are very fitting words of praise to our High and almighty God this Trinity Sunday. Our glorious Triune God, in mercy, condescends to us, His fallen creatures. With humble ourselves before Him and with awe we give Him all praise and glory.

Who He is is beyond our comprehension. We can understand what Scripture says about the Trinity, but we cannot wrap our minds around how the Three Persons of the Trinity can be only one God as we confessed in the Athanasian Creed earlier. Some have tried to explain God in such a way that His nature can be grasped human reason, but this always leads to disastrous errors. They say that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are just three different masks or modes of one Person. So that God sometimes acts as Father, sometimes acts as Son, and sometimes acts as Holy Spirit. This is the heresy called modalism, and a person who believes this cannot be a Christian. Scripture makes clear that the Father is distinct from the Son, the Son distinct from the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit distinct from the Father. For the Father is unbegotten, the Son is begotten of the Father from eternity, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. And so there are three Persons, not one.

We might also be familiar with illustrations about the Trinity, using an apple, that in the one apple there is the peel, the core, and the flesh. Similarly, with a three-leaf clover, you have three leaves, but it is one clover. But in each of those illustrations, the parts of the apple or each leaf of the clover are only a part of the whole, only 33% of the apple or of the clover. But each person of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are completely and essentially 100% God, and not part of God.

Any illustration trying to describe the Trinity falls short. Muslims, Jews, and the world may call us foolish for believing in a God that reason cannot calculate. But so be it, He is beyond our reason, but He has graciously revealed Himself to us.

And consider His attributes, He is eternal! He has no beginning. He is almighty, there is no limit to His power. And He is holy, perfect and righteous in and of Himself according to His essence.

And consider His vast creation. The universe is immense with an estimate of over 100 billion galaxies.  And here we are living on a speck of dust compared to the huge universe, and the brightest minds among mankind cannot fully understand all that God created simply by His Word of power.

These things alone should strike awe in our hearts at God’s majesty. He is infinitely greater than us in glory, in might, in wisdom and in holiness!

So, who would be willing to claim to know and comprehend God’s mind? Who would claim to be God’s counselor, His advisor as to how He should act as Lord? Who can give anything to God or gain merit before Him so as to expect something in return from God? These are all foolish notions.

God is so far above us, but then He acts in an unexpected and strange way. And again, it is because of His mercy. He condescends to us, to be immanent, or Immanuel, God with us. The Father not only wants to be the Father of His only begotten Son, but also the Father of undeserving sinners. The Son gives up His throne, and the Creator becomes the created, the Holy One becomes our sin. The majestic “Yahweh” becomes a bloody and beaten and suffering servant. And He who is Life incarnate, dies. And then the Holy Spirit attaches Himself to some of the mundane things of the world: words, water, bread and wine, to work among us and in us and to be received into our hearts to dwell there.

And God works strangely among those who He calls His own. He allows us to suffer trouble, heartache, pain, persecution and death, again for the purposes of His mercy, that we who have been elected to believe in Jesus may arrive at the goal of eternal life!

God has revealed some of His heart and mind to us in Holy Scripture and in the person of Christ. It is His mind for us that we repent of our sins, and that we be saved and live eternally with Him through faith in the merits of Jesus Christ. He shows us His heart, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

God’s ways are not our ways, and how wonderful are His ways! “Who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?

Yet, doesn’t it happen that we think that we could do things a little bit better. If God would give us His ear, we could counsel Him and enlighten Him with our wisdom. Might our prayers change from an attitude of humility to an attitude of pride. We might think that our ways would be better, more loving, more wise, more good.

The default religion of fallen man, works righteousness, gets in our head, and we think that we ought to bring something to the table for our salvation. We must be able to earn something from Him. As though anything can come from us. Even the most noble work done with such an attitude is filthy rags in the sight of God. It is wicked sin. Could we really give God something that He hasn’t first given to us? For godly works must come from a heart that the Holy Spirit regenerates. We must be made righteous first by God, before we can do any works. And the works we do, are not to our glory, but to God’s glory, because He has given us such believing heart.

Or how many will think, God, why should you use lowly words, water, bread and wine. We can come up with our own ways to spread your kingdom that would work better, like lights, smoke, and quiet music that gets loud at the right time, and, of course, a coffee bar that rivals any coffee shop in town.

Or perhaps, our humble complaint before God, like the Psalmists, which is good, turns into ungrateful grumbling like the Israelites in the wilderness. We begin to think that God needs to let go of the steering wheel and let us step in the driver’s seat as though we can steer our lives better than He can.

O perhaps, we might counsel God to not get so worked up over our sins, and instruct Him that they are not so bad.


Sermon – John 14.23-31 (Pentecost – 2022)

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Exordium: What an extraordinary event occurred that Pentecost day. 120 of Jesus disciples were gathered together when a breeze came upon them. The Holy Spirit had come to them, and rested on them in tongues of fire. These common people with limited education were instantly able to speak in foreign languages, not babbling like the Pentecostals teach. But above all, the Holy Spirit gave them a fuller understanding of Christ their Savior. The Holy Spirit gave the knowledge of Christ and His saving work into their hearts. They knew the salvation Christ won for them. This was fact. Being certain, that their eternal life is secured in Christ, we can see how these men who formerly were cowards hiding in locked rooms in fear of the Jews, became bold preachers of Christ, willing to suffer for the sake of His name.

Though we do not receive that one-time gift of tongues, the Holy Spirit continues to come to us through the Word, putting into our hearts the certainty that we have forgiveness of sins and eternal life through Christ our Savior. Therefore, we may boldly confess Him and with joy sing His praise. We sing the festival hymn, hymn number 27, verse 1. Please rise.

23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

 24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.

 25 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.

 26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

 27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

 28 “You have heard Me say to you,`I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said,`I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.

 29 “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.

 30 “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.

 31 “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.

These are your Words heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

The Holy Spirit, Our Holy Teacher

Dear fellow redeemed,

In the conversation immediately before our text, Judas, not Iscariot who betrayed Jesus, but another disciple named Judas, made an interesting observation. Now Jesus had just said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” Judas was perplexed by this. He asked Jesus, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” Judas counts himself and the rest of the disciples as those who love Christ and keep His commandments. He wonders why Jesus will manifest Himself to them, but not to the whole world?

Why will Jesus not manifest Himself to the whole world? If Jesus is the world’s Savior, why will He not manifest Himself to the world as the world’s Savior? Doesn’t He want everyone to know who He is?

In a way Jesus does manifest Himself to the world. The whole Epiphany season is about this. During that season, we see the eternally begotten Son of God making Himself manifest in human flesh, publicly displaying His power and might with many signs, and making clear that He is the promised Messiah.

So also, Christ is made manifest to the world as the eyewitness testimony of Scripture goes out to all the world declaring His wonderful works.

Christ and the truths about who He is and what He has come into the world to do are clearly manifested, or shown, to the world. And He desires that all may believe in Him as their Savior.

But Jesus is not made manifest in the hearts of those who belong to the world. These are those who are still in darkness of unbelief, and their ruler is the devil. Jesus is not made manifest to them, because they reject Christ. The Holy Spirit comes through the Word and testifies into the hearts of man the truth of Jesus. But they reject the Holy Spirit, too. They may see Jesus, but they do not receive Him. Jesus is preached to them, but they would not know Him. Jesus is not manifested in their hearts.

This is the world, the world of the devil’s rule and deceit, from which we have been saved. Not by anything that we have done, but by the grace of the Father and His gracious election from eternity, the Holy Spirit has enlightened us that Christ was manifested or made known in our hearts. This is only the work of the Holy Spirit, because our fallen hearts were like the world, captive under the slavery of Satan and enemies of God. But the Holy Spirit, by His grace, has made us His students, and He has taught us of the love of our Triune God. Thanks be to God!

Our text today talks about one’s love for Christ, about the peace that He gives. None of these things would be possible without the Holy Spirit. Let us consider these things one by one.

Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.” Can one love what he rejects? Can one love what He does not know. By nature we reject Christ, nor can we know Him. How could we love Him? But the Holy Spirit has taught to our hearts the truth of holy Scripture, which is all about the love of God for us in Christ Jesus! God is love! And what love it is that the righteous and holy God would love such sinners as you and me! And that He was willing to go to such lengths as sending His eternally begotten and beloved Son to suffer the bitterness of hell and death on the cross to save us. Once the Holy Spirit causes us to know Him and His love for us, how can we not love Him? As St. John said, “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19).

And since we love Him, we love and keep His Word. How can we say that we love God if we ignore His Word? Is it loving for a child to treat the word of his parent with contempt? But since the Holy Spirit has taught us of Christ’s love for us, we then keep His Word. We hear of His righteousness and His atoning sacrifice for our sins, and we believe in Him as our Savior. We hear His law, and we repent to Him of our sinfulness and our every sin, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, and out of love for our gracious God, we conduct our lives according to His law. This keeping of Christ’s Word proves our love for Him. All of this is possible only by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now the Holy Spirit also grants us the peace of Christ, a peace unlike what the world gives. Again, remember that the world here is synonymous with the kingdom of all those who dwell under Satan’s rule in the darkness of unbelief. Shall we look for our peace then in this world? Sure we strive to live peaceably with all people as far as it is up to us. But what gives your heart peace? Is it health? Is it a plump bank account? Is it success? Is it the acceptance of the world? Certainly, God’s earthly gifts are blessings, but they are not to be the source of our peace. Perhaps, you may seek you peace in thinking that you’re not being as bad of a sinner as that one person you know. But what are all these things to a guilty conscience? What are all these things when we are daily waging war against our Old Adam, that wants nothing to do with righteousness, but asserts its selfishness and pride? What are all these things when we are surrounded by so many evils, and the devil is prowling nearby?

But find your peace in Jesus, who has made Himself manifest in your hearts through the Holy Spirit. Look to Him who was crucified for you, rose, and is ascended to the right hand of the Father. He gives a peace different than the world gives. Stephen, Paul, and the disciples often lacked earthly peace, but they had the peace of God which surpasses all understanding. So as you are burdened with the trouble of your sins, Jesus has taken away all your sins; you are freed from a guilty conscience. Even though we struggle daily against our Old Adam, we give thanks to Christ who has rescued us from this body of death. Christ imputed righteousness is yours, and you are freed to live in this righteousness keeping the commandments of the Lord in love for Him. The devil, the world, and death are overcome by our Lord. In Him, we also have the eternal victory. What should trouble our hearts then? What shall we fear? We have Jesus! Jesus has us!

Thanks be to God, the Holy Spirit, for making Jesus manifest to our hearts, that we may know Him and His saving love for us, so that we may love Him and find our peace in Him! Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be; forevermore. Amen.


Sermon – Acts 1.1-11 (Ascension – 2021)

Our Exalted King Is Near

Let us pray: O Jesus Christ, almighty Son of God, You are no longer in humiliation here on earth, but are seated at the right hand of Your Father, Lord over all things: We beseech You, send us Your Holy Spirit; give Your Church pious pastors, preserve Your Word, control and restrain the devil and all who would oppress us; mightily uphold Your kingdom, until all Your enemies have been put under Your feet, that we may hold the victory over sin, death, and the devil; through You, who live and reign with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen,

 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

 4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;

 5 “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

 7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.

 8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

 9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,

 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

What did Luke record as the content of Jesus’ teaching during the 40 days after His resurrection? He said that Jesus was “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” His last words were about the kingdom of God. Mark records the summary of Jesus preaching, saying in the first chapter of his Gospel, “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.

This proclamation of the Kingdom of God is to continue today in the Church and from the Church to the world. The preaching of the kingdom of God is the preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. The angels told the disciples to stop gazing up into heaven, and recognize that Jesus will be returning in like manner. They ought to wait for the Holy Spirit to come to them, and then they will have plenty of work to begin preaching the kingdom of God beginning in Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. And so the Church continues preaching the kingdom today.

And that message today will specifically focus on two things related to Christ’s Ascension: The King is exalted. And the King is near.

After Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to Mary Magdalene. She embraced her Lord, but Jesus said, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father” (Jn 20:17). Mary wasn’t doing anything wrong here. What Jesus is saying is that the visible relationship that she and the disciples had been accustomed to is over. He will not remain with them in this way, but it is good that He will go, and instead of clinging to Him, she ought to be glad to see Him ascend to the Father’s right hand.

It is good that Jesus ascend, because His ascension to the right hand of the Father is His exaltation in glory over all things. Jesus is seated “in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Eph 1:20-21)

This is not just a seat of honor for Christ, but a seat of power, a power that is His, and power with which He rules over all creation. He is King over the earth, and all the nations are under His feet. The devil and all his horde is subjected to the conquering might of Christ. This exalted Christ is the same one who loves you. He once got dirty with your sins and paid the price for them. He’s the one who stretched out His hands on the cross for you. He’s the one who died your death for you and was buried in that tomb in the garden. You call Him Savior, Redeemer, Lord, and since He is true man and since He has made us children of the Father with Him, we also call Him Brother.

There is great comfort for us in this, but that is not all. The truth is that He is also very near to you. Though Mary embraced her Lord, and the disciples worshipped at His feet and conversed with Him, after He ascended into heaven, Christ’s presence with them became more intimate and more profound than ever before. We find this same thing in Jesus instructions to the Church. Before He ascended into heaven, He instructed the disciples to go make disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching. And though He will ascend and no longer be visibly present with His Church, He says, “I will be with you always, even unto the end of the age.” In such miraculous and mystical closeness, Christ is present with us also today.

He comes to us in the means of grace, the Word and Sacraments, bringing us His forgiveness and righteousness and His eternal life. And nothing depicts this closeness better than the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. There Christ is present with His body and blood for us. We receive Him upon our tongues in intimate communion with Him, and we are united to Him, to His forgiveness, and His life!

It is to Christ outside of us that we sinners look for our forgiveness and salvation. Within us we see that corrupted nature, the selfish and prideful flesh, from which come all our sins of thought, word, and deed. And so with repentant hearts we look to Christ outside of us—Christ on the cross who bore our sins. Christ who comes to us with His forgiveness and salvation in Word and Sacrament. And surely, Christ, your ascended King, forgives you and has assured you of eternal life! It is in His cross and in the promises of His gospel in Word and sacrament that we find the power that strengthens our faith, and the certainty of His love for us and His forgiveness and eternal salvation for us.

But there is another gift we have that comes to us through the Word and Sacraments. When we receive Christ with the gift of faith, He comes to dwell in us. The ascended King, who sits in all power, glory, and honor at the Father’s right hand, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Lord, and our Brother dwells in our lowly hearts. Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with Him” (John 14:23).

He is Your God and your exalted King, and He is near. He dwells in you.

John wrote in His first letter, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). John is speaking of the Antichrist as the one who is in the world. Neither the antichrist, nor the devil, nor any other evil in the world can overcome you, for the ascended King, Jesus Christ, is in you. Yes, you are more than conquerors through Him who loved you and gave His life as a sacrifice for you. For the conquering Lord is in you. Through faith you are members of His victorious kingdom, and one day, you will join your exalted King in glory. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.