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Maundy Thursday - April 18, 2019

Sermon by Rev. David Kahle

Good Friday (Tenebrae) - April 19, 2019

Sermon by Vicar Mark Kranz

Palm Sunday - April 14, 2019

Sermon by Rev. David Kahle

Lenten Midweek 5 - April 10, 2019

***Due to winter weather, we were unable to record the sermon. Below is the manuscript.***

Sermon by Vicar Mark Kranz

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

            Last week we learned of the Person of the Holy Spirit. At the Baptism of Jesus, we see that the Holy Spirit is distinct from the Father and the Son. Then at the conclusion of Matthew’s gospel, in the baptismal formula (in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit), we see that the Holy Spirit, while distinct from the Father and the Son, is also just as much God as the Father and the Son. In the words of the Athanasian Creed, we worship Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity, neither confusing the Persons nor dividing the Substance.

            The conclusion of this series on the Apostles’ Creed with take up the work of the Holy Spirit. I promise this topic is more familiar to many of you and will be easier to understand than last week. We could examine each phrase of the Third Article, but that would take much longer than we have this evening and it is not necessary. The end of the Third Article [I believe in] the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting is a summary of the work of the Holy Spirit. So then, what does the Holy Spirit do?

            The Holy Spirit builds the Church. If the Church is the congregation of saints gathered to hear the Word of God and receive his gifts, then it is the Holy Spirit who calls people into the Church. This means he is active in conversion. It is impossible for a man to sit alone, with a copy of the Bible, and through his own reading, come to faith in Christ. This is for three reasons: Man is 1. spiritually blind; 2. spiritually dead; 3. and an enemy of God.

           1. First, man is spiritually blind. Reason is a precious gift of God. By this gift, someone could read the Bible and gain much knowledge concerning the history of the people of Israel, of a man named Jesus, and of the movements of the men who followed him. But by reason, man cannot understand the spiritual truth of Scripture. Man cannot figure out that he is sinful by nature in need of a Savior and that this Savior came in the Person of Jesus the Christ.

           2. Man is spiritually dead. To come to Christ and believe in him is a spiritual act, not a physical one. But man is conceived in iniquity and born in sin. Sin is lawlessness and death. So man is born in death, that is, dead to the things of God. The common phrase, ‘as soon as you’re born, you start dying,’ isn’t quite right. As soon as you’re conceived, you are dead. Without God, you may be walking and breathing, but you are as good as dead. Just as Lazarus was helpless to raise himself from the grave, so too are we helpless on our own.

            3. Man is an enemy of God. Natural man, that is unbelieving man, is an enemy of God. There is no sitting on the fence in relationship to God. A man cannot serve two masters, but he must serve one. The house that is left standing empty is soon filled with seven more spirits than before. As an enemy of God, natural man does not want to switch sides, nor is he able. Rather, like a dog returns to its vomit, we return to our sins on our own.

            For these three reasons, (man is spiritually blind, spiritually dead, and an enemy of God), man is incapable of arriving at faith by himself. Even with the Bible in hand, a man cannot come to faith on his own. The only way the heart of man is converted is by the calling and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.

            Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light unto my path (Ps 119:115). The Holy Spirit is the one who lights this lamp. The Holy Spirit enlightens our hearts and minds to be able to understand the Scriptures. He causes the Word of God to convict us of our sins and seek forgiveness from the only place it can be found – in Jesus Christ.

            How then does the Holy Spirit do this? It may sound like I’m teaching you to seek the Holy Spirit somewhere other than the Scriptures. Far from it! The Holy Spirit works faith in the hearts of man through the Word of God. St. John records these words of our Lord: But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit is promised to teach the church through bringing to remembrance all that Jesus has said. Therefore, we say it was the Holy Spirit who inspired the human authors of Scripture. He brought to their remembrance everything Jesus said. Everything Jesus said is the Word of God by which faith is wrought in man.

           We who are dead in our sins, blind to the things of God, and enemies of the Almighty Creator of the universe, are made dear children of the heavenly Father by the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ died for the sins of world, making atonement for our sins. It is then the Holy Spirit who delivers this promise of forgiveness to each Christian. It is the Holy Spirit who turns a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. He works faith in us, that we would receive the gifts of God in faith.

            But the Holy Spirit isn’t done with us once we have faith. He isn’t done once we have been converted or confirmed. The Holy Spirit continues to gather the church in the name of Christ. He calls us to that place where we receive the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Christ together with all the saints. He enlightens our hearts to serve our neighbors and guides us in the works which have been prepared before. He also causes us to seek the forgiveness of sins, constantly working on our hearts so that we would know we are sinners in need of salvation.

            The Holy Spirit also sanctifies us, makes us holy. This means he places the robe of Christ’s righteousness upon us. That the Holy Spirit sanctifies us also means that we are now to follow in the example of Christ. We are to flee from sin and lead holy lives. By the direction of the Holy Spirit, we can change the channel after dark, forgive our spouse, and suffer the persecution of others. When we fail, the Holy Spirit calls us to repentance and keeps us in the faith.

            Only if we abandon the Holy Spirit himself will he depart and leave us to our own depraved minds. This is the only action we are capable of on our own. But like the gardener who pleads with the vineyard owner for another year before destroying the fig tree, the Holy Spirit will fight against our sinful natures on our behalf to the very last moment. He fights for us against our Old Adam.

            The Holy Spirit calls us to faith in Christ. He gathers the saints into the Holy Christian Church where we commune with all the saints of God and receive the forgiveness of sins. The Holy Spirit sustains us to the resurrection of the body, drowning our Old Adam and sanctifying us in holy living. And the result of the work of the Holy Spirit is life everlasting.

          In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Fifth Sunday in Lent - April 7, 2019

Sermon by Rev. David Kahle

Lenten Midweek 4 - April 3, 2019

Sermon by Vicar Mark Kranz

Fourth Sunday in Lent - March 31, 2019

Sermon by Rev. David Kahle

Lenten Midweek 3 - March 27, 2019

Sermon by Vicar Mark Kranz

Third Sunday in Lent - March 24, 2019

Sermon by Vicar Mark Kranz

Lenten Midweek 2 - March 20, 2019

Sermon by Vicar Mark Kranz

Second Sunday in Lent - March 17th, 2019

Sermon by Rev. David Kahle

Lenten Midweek 1 - March 13, 2019

***Due to a power outage at the church, we were unable to record the sermon. Below is the sermon manuscript.***

Sermon by Vicar Mark Kranz

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

            The first part of Christian Doctrine is taught in the Ten Commandments. Here we find God's eternal will for the life of man. While the commandments teach us of God's essence and, dare I say, even provide comfort for the Christian who desires to follow God's will, even brief consideration of the commandments will lead anyone, Christian and unbeliever, to realize that they have not kept the commandments. In fact, it will be very apparent that you cannot keep the commandments perfectly. The sin born within you from the moment of conception renders you unworthy to stand before God. You cannot keep his commandments and therefore you deserve to be cast into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

            This is why the second part of Christian Doctrine is taught in the Apostles' Creed. Here, we are taught everything we must expect and receive from God. To put it another way, we are taught in the Apostles' Creed to know God fully. Knowing God fully helps us to do that which we ought to do according to the Ten Commandments.[1]

            Tonight, we begin by examining the first article of the Creed:

I believe in God, the Father, Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.

            The Creed begins with two very interesting words, I believe. This would seem to be a contradiction to where I began, that the Creed reveals who God is and yet we begin with ourselves. Only the Church is able to confess the Creed. Certainly an unbeliever could say the words, but they cannot believe the words they might say. How is it that Christians are able to say "I believe" to any article of faith? Only through the Holy Spirit. When we say, "I believe," or any statement that begins "I [verb]," we mean to say, "because Christ has redeemed me, a creature of God fallen into sin, and sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within me, enlighten my mind, and kindle my heart, I believe."

            Already, in these two words, "I believe," we are confessing the entire Trinity. The Father has created me, the Son redeemed me, and the Holy Spirit dwells within me that I might boldly confess who God is and what he has done for me.

            The Creed continues, "I believe in God." We first confess there is a God, a being outside of ourselves and greater than we can imagine. St. Paul is making the same confession against the unbeliever, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth (Rom 1:18). If we only confessed that there is a God, somewhere out there, then his revelation within the world would tell us that he is angry. He is angry at humanity and seeks to judge mankind. This is apparent in creation and yet some deny it. They suppress the truth that is plain before their eyes.

            That man dies is enough to see that God is angry with human beings. Yet the unbeliever tries to convince himself that death is simply a part of life, that without death there cannot be life. The more than 500 people who attended Bridgette's funeral know that death is not a part of life. Death is a painful separation. For the Christian, it is a blessed reunion with Christ, but it is still a separation from family and most simply, the body. In the resurrection, there will be no death but life will abound. Death is no more a part of life than darkness is a part of light.

            Again, the Creed continues: "I believe in God, the Father." What comfort this sweet sentence gives! This being, greater than us, who is clearly angry with us, is also our Father. He shows love to those who love him, forgiving their sins to a thousand generations. He desires to hear and answer our prayers. The Father is not created, nor begotten, nor proceeds. He has chosen to reveal himself to us as a Father who disciplines his children, through calamity, adversity, cross, and trial; but also who loves his children such that he sacrificed his only begotten Son that he would have generations of adopted heirs. You are his children, beloved of the Most High!

            That we call God, "Father," has another, very important implication. There can be no Father without the Son. Because we call God "Father," we already confess Christ. We are already confessing that as the Father is eternal, so the Son is eternal. Christ is eternally begotten of the Father such that there was never a time that God was not The Father, nor that Christ was not The Son. In God's very being, he is a loving Father who cares for his children.

            "I believe in God, the Father, Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth." Not only do we have a God who is outside of ourselves, greater than any being we can imagine; not only is God eternally the Father who cares for and loves us; but God the Father is also the Almighty Creator. God stands outside of creation, outside of time and space; and from absolutely nothing, the cosmos came into being. At the Word of the Father, the world was made. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made (Rom. 1:20).

             I once heard a joke that two scientists had discovered how to create life, independent of God. After the usual press tour, they called upon God to share their discovery. "God," they said, "we no longer need you. We can create life out of dirt on our own, so we have no use for you." God said, "Congratulations! Can I see?" So the scientists placed a pile of dirt on the table, ran electricity through it, added some water, and suddenly it began to move. God said, "Wow! Now get your own dirt."

            St. Paul must have already heard this joke. He wrote, For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things (Rom 1:21-23).

            When God rested on the Seventh Day, all of creation had been made, but God did not stop creating. Every moment of every day, God is creating the universe. He is creating and sustaining the whole cosmos at every second. If God were ever to cease his creation and provision, everything would blink out of existence. Why? Because every man, every bird, every mosquito, every thought, every action comes from God. Think of a campfire. Only the one standing outside the campfire can sustain the fire by providing airflow and wood. Anything inside of the fire is only consumed and eventually destroyed by the fire. It is the same with God and creation. He stands outside of creation and is then the only being capable of sustaining creation.

            This idea of continuing creation is important because through it, we confess that God sustains a continuing relationship with his creation. God is an eternal being, outside of creation and vastly superior to it. He is our Father who loves us and desires our prayer. But he is also the creator who takes an active role in sustaining everything that is. God did not fall asleep after creation only to awaken on the Last Day. No, he is involved with every breath.

            Many people like to say they have faith the sun will rise tomorrow or that they trust that tomorrow will come. For the Christian who confesses the Apostles' Creed, we know that tomorrow will only come if God wills it. If he does not will it, then as our heavenly Father he will draw all his dear children to himself. We also know that should our world end, should tragedy strike, God is eternal. Nothing can tear us away from him for he is greater than anything we can encounter.

            Thus, we are bold to confess,

I believe in God, the Father, Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.

In Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

 

[1] These two paragraphs are a summary of Large Catechism II 1-4.

First Sunday in Lent - March 10, 2019

Sermon by Rev. David Kahle

Ash Wednesday - March 6, 2019

Sermon by Vicar Mark Kranz

Funeral for Bridgette Odens - March 7, 2019

Sermon by Rev. David Kahle

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