Friday, October 24, 2008

What the law Demands, The Christ Delivers

TEXT: ". . . remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God." 1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
"Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." Matthew 22:21

Dearly beloved children of God,

There is no doubt about it we are a disobedient people.

In preaching on this Gospel, Luther said, “[Everyman thinks himself an emperor], “that’s why I can do what I please.... Conditions are becoming so shameful and lamentable that I no longer really care to preach, for in spite of the gospels bright light, both rulers and subjects are becoming worse by the day.”

So you see there is nothing new under the sun. We bemoan the lack of respect among us and how the world is going to hell in a hand basket, but it has ever been thus.

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
(Judg 17:6 NKJ)

In truth no one wants to "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." We sinners all think we are our own Caesar and our own God. But we need a Caesar precisely because we sinners do not do things for the benefit of others, but what is right in our own eyes – i.e. rights not right.

Children are disobedient to parents. But how can they not be? For they see their parents being disobedient to the laws, law givers and law enforcers of the land that are gifts of God for their own welfare. And if that is not bad enough, these children also see their parents being disobedient to those God has called to oversee them in His kingdom of heaven on earth, the Holy Christian Church, ordering rather than receiving, and even modeling how to come up with every excuse under the sun as to why they don’t have to go to church on any given Sunday.

To us the Law has become, “You’re not the boss of me now.” And the Gospel has been reduced to “Don’t worry, be happy.”

"Both the civil government and the Church are responsible directly to God for duties God has assigned to each: to the civil government is given the responsibility for the physical welfare and protection and to the Church is given the responsibility of the spiritual welfare of the people." – Pastor Doug May, Socorro, New Mexico --

Luther summarizes these responsibilities in the Small Catechism Table of Duties:
Therefore, an overseer [pastor] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive. He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (1 Timothy 3:2–4, 6; Titus 1:9)
In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:14)
One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches. (Galatians 6:6)
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” (1 Timothy 5:17–18)
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17)›
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:1–4)
Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. (Matthew 22:21)
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.… Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (Romans 13:1, 5–7)
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2:1–2)
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work. (Titus 3:1)
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. (1 Peter 2:13–14)

These duties and responsibilities are commanded by God for the sake of good order and the general welfare of all His people – for their life both in the church and in the world. And, of course, they find their perfect fulfillment in His One and only Son, Jesus the Christ, as He takes the burden of the Law and turns it into the blessing of the Gospel, which is what the Apostle Paul is writing about in his letter to the Philippian Christians:
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Phil 2:5-8, NKJ)

God is the boss of you now and forever. And He is definitely soooo BIG. He is the God who died for you and elected you. knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. 1 Thessalonians 1:4 "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." Matthew 22:21

While presented as Law there is wonderful Gospel that lies behind it, just as the proclamation of God in the garden seemed Law to Adam and Eve because of the temptation of the devil:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Gen 2:16-17 NKJ)In fact, before sin reared its ugly head, that was the greatest gospel truth to save them from eternal condemnation and give them eternal life.

You are not forgiven and saved to be free from the Law itself, but free from the consequences of breaking it and thus free to see it for what it is, the precious Word of God given for the benefit of His called and chosen people – YOU, the dearly beloved and baptized of God. Truly you cannot save yourself by your own DOING of the Law, that is because the doing of the Law is all the work of God.

Today while the Ten Commandments loom over us as law, there is One who stands behind them -- God the Father; there is One who was born, suffered and died to fulfill them -- the One and Only Son of God, Jesus Christ; and there is One who comes from the Father and the Son to deliver their blessings to us -- the Holy Spirit.

This One God is here by the promise and certainty of His Word and Sacrament today to tell you once again: “I, the Lord your God, have baptized you and forgiven you all your sins” ...
... in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

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