Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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Advent 2 – December 9 – Mal. 3:1-7 – The Teaching Of Christ

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Old Testament Lesson just read, from Mal. 3.  We begin with prayer.

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • Our text for this morning prophecies, or “predicts,” the coming of both John the Baptist – God’s messenger who prepares the way before Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ.  I suppose that we could just read the whole of the Gospel accounts of “THE TEACHING OF CHRIST,” which we do each Sunday, and from time to time in our Bible Classes.  But His teaching is summarized in this “forecast” of His coming – and it is interesting to note just how God Himself describes the purposes and the outcomes of Christ’s arrival as a human being some 2,000 years ago.
  • He is described as “purifying” or “refining” human beings, the people of God.  He is described as the “active ingredient” – like a “refiner’s fire” or like the bleach in laundry soap.  Both of these activities are described as being difficult for human beings to “endure” and “stand” – and certainly we can see the reality of this when we read descriptions of the reception Jesus experienced among human beings, and of His crucifixion.  So we are encouraged to get a grip on ourselves as we consider His teaching, because it will also certainly be painful for us – and we should recognize that “THE TEACHING OF CHRIST” will always be challenging and in some respects “dismaying” to us.
  • Nonetheless, we press on with our task this morning, and if we’re ready we will consider “THE TEACHING OF CHRIST,” our dear Lord and Savior:

 

I.  The Teaching Of Christ Refines And Cleanses Humanity

 

A.  First, His Teaching Is One Of Repentance And Faith

 

1.  The bad news of our sin, that we have need of repentance – acknowledging our sin, and turning from it

 

Luke 13:3  “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

 

2.  The good news is that He is the “Lamb of God” Who takes away the sin of the world

 

1 John 1:7,9  “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. . . .  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

 

Statement:  This is ultimately “good news” for us – but it causes us some discomfort.  Our sinful nature enjoys sin – perhaps not dark and grievous sins like violent murder, or actually committing adultery, or robbing a bank to gain wealth; but a whole host of “smaller” sins, like anger, hatred, malice, gossip, revealing clothing styles, cheerleaders, imagining, laziness, and working things to our greatest advantage without thinking about the consequences to other people.   So the call to repentance first causes us pain and discomfort – but this is preparing us for the Gospel, the good news of God’s gracious mercy, forgiveness, and salvation.

 

Application:  However, even the Gospel produces some pain for us – in that it requires us to acknowledge that we are poor miserable sinners who cannot save ourselves, that we are utterly, totally, and completely dependent upon God’s gracious mercy and forgiveness, or else we are totally lost and gone to hell. 

However, like a little boy’s face after his mother gives it a good rough scrubbing with the wash cloth, God’s forgiveness has cleansed us from all our sin and guilt – and we are purified in His sight, without any sin, or spot, or wrinkle, or any other flaw, but perfectly cleansed and righteous in His sight through faith in Jesus Christ, and this is great good news, especially considering the alternative.

 

For those who submit to Christ this is great good news, especially since:

 

B.  The Teaching Of Christ Is Swift Witness Against All Sin And Wickedness

 

Text:  “I will draw near to you for judgment.  I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of Hosts.”

 

1.  He is swift to condemn all sorcery, all “irreligion”

2.  He is swift to condemn all adultery, all sexual sin, including evil lusts

3.  He is swift to condemn those who swear falsely, all liars, deceivers, and manipulators of the truth

4.  He is swift to condemn all who oppress the poor, all who engage in economic injustice – who have no pity for widows and orphans, and even those who refuse to pay a decent wage to their workers

5.  He is swift to condemn inhospitality, our disregard for those who are strangers and less fortunate than we are

6.  He is swift to condemn all who do not fear Him – that is, those who have no respect and love for Him, who reject His Word, who do not worship Him, who ignore His commandments and instructions

 

Statement:  This is a laundry list of our own sins, those common to the American way of life.  We like to determine our own theology, and to engage in superstition; our culture is filled with lewd and lecherous images of perverted sexuality and temptation; we love to abuse language, to use it to hide and cover the truth and to manipulate and take advantage of others; we are selfish, concerned chiefly about our own income, wealth, and luxuries – and care little for those who are not as “successful” as we are; we do not welcome the “strangers” – many of us want them all deported; and how many empty seats there are in the sanctuary on Sunday, and especially in our Bible Studies, on Sunday morning and during the week, even though God commands us to study His Word! 

 

Application:  So if we will not receive His cleansing and forgiveness, through repentance and faith – if we will not bear His refining, then the blast of His fiery condemnation will continue unabated upon us, both in this life and for eternity in hell.  Sadly, this is the choice of the majority of mankind – may it not be so for us! 

 

And so we see that:

 

III.  Jesus’ Teaching Calls For Repentance And Faith In God

 

A.  This Would Include Honest Acknowledgement Of Our Continuing Rebellion Against His Word And Statutes

 

Text:  “From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statues and have not kept them.”

 

B.  This Would Include Most Importantly Faith In His Gracious Mercy and Forgiveness, Acknowledgement Of His Unchangeable Mercy

 

Text:  “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

 

C.  This Would Include Allowing His Cleansing To Have Effect In Our Lives, That We Begin Bringing God Offerings In Righteousness

 

Text:  “He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.  Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.”

 

Statement:  This is the effect on those who remain close to the Lord Jesus Christ, who “hear” His teaching, who are repenting of their sins, and who live in His cleansing forgiveness and mercy – they are truly changed, cleansed, refined, and purified, so that they bring truly righteous and God-pleasing “offerings” to the Lord!  All of this is effected through “THE TEACHING OF CHRIST” – by means of His Word, the Bible.

 

Application:  We must understand that this is not completely “pleasant” and enjoyable to us – to be “bleached” and “refined” by fire; and so we must be prepared for changes that are painful to our sinful nature.  We cannot simply indulge our sinful impulses and “go with the flow” around us, the ways of the world.  All of this is being cleansed and purified away in those who are in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ – by His forgiveness and mercy, to be sure, but also by His presence and the power of His love.

 

Conclusion:  This is God’s world, His creation, and He has every right to address it as He sees fit, in a way that is compatible with and compelled by His love for all people.  He has chosen to address us by “THE TEACHING OF CHRIST,” by His own Word.  The process and the effects may be “uncomfortable” for us, even painful; but the outcome is blessed and beautiful and truly good, and what we really want for ourselves and others.  May He grant us faith and constancy to receiving His teaching, His cleansing, and His renewal, Amen.

 

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.