Monday, July 28, 2008

A people holy to the Lord your God

The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Deuteronomy 7:6-9
Bror Erickson

[6] "For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Old Testament is filled cover to cover with the Gospel, pronouncements of God’s love for His people, the forgiveness of sins, and the recording of His deeds leading up to the fulfillment of His promises to our father Abraham in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. That is right, our father Abraham. I say our father Abraham because we are his children by faith:
[6] just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"?
[7] Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. [8] And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." Galatians 3:6-8 (ESV)
Therefore, what God speaks to the children of Abraham in the Old Testament, He also speaks to us. And He tells us you are a people holy to the Lord your God. All too often today, being Holy is made a matter of Law, and not of the Gospel. Too many people try to drive a wedge between justification and sanctification. The position could be crudely characterized that we are justified, declared innocent, by faith, but we are sanctified, made Holy, by the works that follow faith. And the Christian is snatched from the frying pan and thrown into the fire. What is given to him with the right hand is now snatched from him with the left hand. For in justification they are given freedom from the law, but then the yoke of the law is thrown back on them when it comes to sanctification. They are told now, that they have to work to be holy, to be sanctified. They are told they have to live this sanctified life, or they are in danger of loosing their justification, of losing heaven. This is a damnable doctrine of the devil. God doesn’t speak this way. He doesn’t leave the sanctification of the people He loves up to efforts of those same sinners. In this world we are sinners, even as we are the people of God, but we are sanctified sinners, we have been made Holy by the work of God Baptism the washing of water with the word,
[26] that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, Ephes. 5:26 (ESV)
This is what happens in baptism. This is what happened to you when you were baptized. God chose you, to be a treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. He picked you up, and washed you clean from the guilt of sin, sanctified you, made you a people holy to Him. Notice who it is doing the choosing, doing the work. God does the choosing. The Lord, your God, the very same God who spoke to Moses through a burning bush, the very same God who took on Human flesh and blood and sacrificed Himself on the Cross, as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, chose you to be His treasured possession, baptizing you, not only with water, but also with the Holy Spirit. As John the Baptist said: “I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." Mark 1:8 (ESV) And make no mistake about it people, there are not two baptisms but one, as we are informed in the fourth chapter of Ephesians: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, Ephes. 4:5 (ESV) And in that baptism you were washed, you were sanctified and you were justified 1 Corinthians 6.

[7] It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set His love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, [8] but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

And why has God done this for you? For no other reason than that He loves you, as he loves all people everywhere, and wants all people to be saved. For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (ESV) God sent His son to die, not only for you, but for all people. He did not see in you anything better than He sees in anyone else. God does not desire that anyone should be lost. He wants all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. 1 Timothy 2:4
[12] For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. [13] For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
[14] But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? [15] And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" Romans 10:12-15 (ESV)
Faith saves, and faith comes through hearing. Perhaps the biggest difference between the Christian and the non-Christian, those who are saved in Christ, and those that are damned in their own sin, is nothing more than the difference between those who have heard, and those that have not heard the gospel. It is such a simple thing to hear the gospel. Some people refuse to hear the gospel; refuse to believe it even after they have heard it. They damn themselves for it. On the last day the word they rejected will judge them. “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” John 12:48 (ESV) But all too often people are never given a chance to hear the gospel. This is why you pay me to be your pastor, not only so that you can hear the gospel, hear that Christ forgave your sins, but that the people of this community can hear it too. Your offerings, your dedication to the church, to this congregation, all that goes into supporting me and my family, the pastors before me, and the pastors to come after me, are all testimonies to your love for the community of Tooele. You may not think you do much. Too often Christians tend to think of their home congregation as less important than supporting some other mission on the other side of the world. But every congregation is a mission, in the midst of your very own community, there to proclaim the gospel to all who will hear. World missions are good. We should support them, as our congregation is doing even now, by supporting the seminary in South Africa along with our district. We are unified in Christ through out the world in the communion of saints. We need to support those ministries also, but we dare not forget our local congregations, the congregation we are a part of, and despise the people of our own community, whom God also loves. Money, time, and service to the local congregation is not wasted. It is money infinitely better spent then the money on your cable bill, or internet service. Not that I would ask you to give those things up. But I would ask you to consider your offerings to be more important than these. The gospel is a precious thing. It is free, but you can’t put a price on its worth. We, who hear it, often take it for granted. I used to. I used to think everyone heard it. I didn’t know how precious and rare it really is. Then I realized there are Christians, who go to church Sunday after Sunday, people who long to hear the gospel, who go to church Sunday after Sunday in order to hear it, and they never do. Instead they are fed a diet of the law, they are told to sanctify themselves. They are told that the essence of the Gospel is to be imitators of Christ. And their so called pastors will answer on the last day for that. It won’t be pretty. They are commanded to preach the Gospel. The Gospel is not imitating Christ! That is law, for that is what Christ did for us. He lived the law perfectly for us, so as to die in our place, to save us, to redeem us, not from the hand of the Pharaoh the king of Egypt, but from the house of slavery to sin and death, the hand of the devil, prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. And He did this because your Lord is God, and He loves you.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, Deut. 7:6-9 (ESV)

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God. People, this is the heart of the matter. Too many fall back under the law, because they do not trust that our Lord Jesus is God. For this reason people make sanctification a matter of the law, and not Gospel. For this reason, they doubt the Gospel. For this reason they don’t trust His death and resurrection. For this reason they don’t trust His words and work in Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. Really people, this is at the root of mistrust in the sacraments, the visible tangible gospel God has given us. They don’t understand how water can cleanse us from sin, and sanctify us, they doubt that forgiveness of sins can be proclaimed by another sinner like them, or that the true body and blood, the body and blood sacrificed for us on the cross, can be given to us in bread and wine for the forgiveness of sins, because they doubt Jesus Christ is God. Oh, they won’t say that. Many will tell you Jesus is God, but then why do they doubt His very clear words? Why are they so hell bent, literally, to say that it can’t be, or that it is impossible for it to be? In this, they show that they don’t really believe Jesus to be God, for with God nothing is impossible, not even the sanctification of sinners, even a sinner only an hour old, in the waters of baptism. With God, nothing is impossible, not even the distribution of His very own body and blood for the forgiveness of sins in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. So know, you holy people of God, His treasured possession, that the Lord your God, Jesus Christ, is God the faithful God, who keeps his covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations, the very same God, who on the night when He was betrayed, on Maundy Thursday, took bread and commanded His disciples saying “take eat this is my body given for you, and again after He had supped took the cup and gave it to the disciples saying take drink this cup is the New Testament in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins, do this often in remembrance of me.” And in giving His body and blood for us, as a sacrifice for our sins, and to us, as a sacrament for the forgiveness of our sins, He has shown His love to a thousand generations and more.

Now the Peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus Our Lord.


apollo819 said...

Solid Lutheranism, and I am sure well presented.
Have a few "born again" acquaintances and friends that need to read this, as we all do along with our other devotionals.

Great Job!

The Lords Peace be with you.

Bror Erickson said...

I hope your born again friends find it helpful.

Anonymous said...


Bror Erickson said...

As far as you other devotionals go, you won't find a better one then "To Live in Christ." You can order by clicking the link under the issues etc. button.