Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Generosity of Our Lord

Let's look at the story that our Lord's snapshot of the kingdom of heaven in His "Parable of the Vineyard" tells us and the lesson He means to teach—that the kingdom of heaven is all about the generosity of the Lord God.

This snapshot superimposes three parts of the day—as shown in the bulletin artwork from an 11th century illuminated Gospel Book—the beginning of the day, i.e. entry into the vineyard; the middle, i.e. work in the vineyard; the end of the day, i.e. payday.

To hear and/or read the entire sermon preached for Septuagesima Sunday, click on this link.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Our Labor in the Vineyard of Our Lord

Does God reward good works? Certainly! The good works of our labor in God’s vineyard are themselves proof that He does. Good works are the work of Christ, and to participate in them is to participate in His reward.
241] We are not trying to start a needless word battle about the term reward. But this is a great, exalted, and very important matter about where Christian hearts can find true and certain comfort. It is about whether our works can give consciences rest and peace, again, whether we are to believe that our works are worthy of eternal life, or whether that is given to us for Christ's sake. These are the real questions regarding these matters. If consciences are not rightly taught about these, they can have no certain comfort. However, we have stated clearly enough that good works do not fulfill the Law, that we need God’s mercy, that through faith we are accepted by God, that good works--be they ever so precious, even if they were the works of St. Paul himself--cannot bring rest to the conscience. It makes sense that we are to believe that we receive eternal life through Christ by faith, not because of our works or of the Law. But what do we say of the reward that Scripture mentions? If the adversaries will admit that we are regarded righteous through faith because of Christ, and that good works please God because of faith, we will not afterward argue much about the term reward. We confess that eternal life is a reward; it is something due because of the promise, not because of our merits. For the justification has been promised, which we have previously shown to be properly God’s gift. To this gift the promise of eternal life has been added, according to Romans 8:30, “Those whom He justified He also glorified.” 242] Here belongs what Paul says, “There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me” )2 Timothy 4:8). The justified are due the crown because of the promise. 243] Saints should know this promise, not that they may labor for their own profit, for they ought to labor for God’s glory. But saints should know it so they may not despair in troubles. They should know God's will: He desires to aid, to deliver, and to protect them. Although the perfect hear the mention of penalties and rewards in one way, the weak hear it in another way. The weak labor for the sake of their own advantage.
Condensed quotations from the Lutheran Confessions from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, copyright 2005, 2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Hour Has not Yet Come

We have the same problem, the same sin as Peter. We want the glory without the suffering. We want to prove our worth and love for God in what we do for Him. But doesn't that break the First Commandment and make us out to be a god before the one true God? Doesn't that reject our God-given station and vocation in life as His Baptized children and heirs?

God the Father makes the point, showing the absurdity of Peter's offer of worship:
He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."

To hear and/or read the entire sermon preached for the Transfiguration of Our Lord, click on this link.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Up from the Water

Whether creation, the Flood, the Red Sea, Holy Baptism, or in the resurrected kingdom of heaven, it is the Word of God that brings life and salvation—the Word that stepped into the Jordan River to be baptized and take on the sins of the world—of Adam and Eve, of Noah and his family, of the Israelites, of the Samaritan woman, of you and me.

And since it is the Word with the water that does these things, though the water has dried from your head and brow, the Word of that living water of Holy Baptism continues to flow from the font of Christ's Church—not just over your head, but over your soul and throughout your spirit.

To hear and/or read the entire sermon preached for the Baptism of Our Lord, click on this link.