Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

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Lafayette, CO 80026
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July 22 – God’s Glorious Compassion For Us

NOTE:  This sermon was preached July 22nd at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Jerome, Idaho, on the occasion of the congregation’s celebration of their 75th anniversary.


Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text for this morning is the Epistle Lesson just read, from Eph. 2.  We begin with prayer.

 

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

  • We don’t do it constantly, but it is one of our common habits – to consider “how well we’re doing.”  If it’s farming, we compare the current state of affairs to what we remember from past growing seasons.  If we’re looking at our investments, we might look at statistics from past years, or even past decades.  Maybe we’re looking at our possessions – how many of the things we’ve always wanted that we now possess, and how many of these things are yet to be obtained.  We may do the same with our physical health – as we get older and more capable, or as we get older and head downhill.  Statistics are interesting to many of us, both personal statistics and general statistics.
  • I suppose we also do the same, but perhaps less frequently, when it comes to our “spiritual life,” our personal faith, our wisdom and understanding, and our walk with God.  An anniversary of our congregation may impel such evaluation – a comparison of “how we’re doing today” versus how things have been in the past. 
  • The greater concern to God is how we are doing personally in our walk of faith, in our life of repentance, our joy and gratitude for His gracious forgiveness and mercy, and the effect that His love is having in our hearts and our being – are we growing more compassionate, merciful, loving, and giving.   After all, there are many things that effect congregational health and growth – demographic changes, cultural changes, economic changes.  But personally, there is really only one thing that determines our “spiritual” growth and maturing, and that is our continuing exposure to the gracious love of God coming into our hearts and minds through God’s Word and His Sacraments.
  • In our text the apostle Paul makes comparisons.  He talks about what the Ephesians were and were not apart from Christ; and he writes about the glorious things that they had become because of “GOD’S GLORIOUS COMPASSION FOR US.  These same things are true of us, we who are believers in Christ Jesus – and they are the greatest things that can be said of any human being.  But first:

 

I.  We All Began At The Very Bottom – Separated From Christ

 

A.  We Were Therefore Alienated From God’s People, The Commonwealth Of Israel

 

B.  So Also We Were Strangers To God’s Covenants Of Promise, Without Any Hope, And Without God – Far Off From God And His Dear People

 

Text:  “Remember that at one time you Gentiles . . . were separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

 

Statement:

  • Many of us have always “belonged” to the church, and have known about God’s gracious mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus – having been baptized as little children, and having been brought to the Words and promises of God in Sunday School.  So it is hard for us to imagine being and living completely apart from God and His love – and yet there are so many people around us in the world today who do just that.   And in view of the free and gracious nature of God’s love, this is just absolutely pitiful. 

 

Application:

  • We need to remain aware of what we are by nature – fallen, sinful, unbelieving, rebellious human beings – if we are to appreciate God’s compassion and what Christ has provided for us in His suffering and death.   We have no “rights” when it comes to God’s grace and blessings, and we have no hope apart from what God provides for us in Christ Jesus – through His promises, His Word and His Sacraments, which are full of promises.  We are, and we always remain, what Luther called us:  “poor beggars before the throne of God’s mercy.”

 

Transition:  But God’s compassion toward us is great, and He has changed everything for us in Christ Jesus – and this is the comparison that Paul makes, for:

 

II.  Now We Are Near God In Christ Jesus, Brought Near By The Blood Of Christ

 

Text:  “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ

 

A.  By His Gracious Forgiveness And Mercy, In The Shedding Of Christ’s Blood For Our Sins, We Have Been Reconciled To God

 

Text:  “Christ Himself is our peace . . . having reconciled us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”

 

B.  Note Also That By The Same Gracious Forgiveness And Mercy, God Reconciles All Of Us To One Another, To All Of God’s Dear Children

 

Text:  “He Himself is our peace who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”

 

C.  So That Now We All Have Access To God In One Spirit, The Holy Spirit Of God

 

Text:  “He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”

 

D.  So That Now The Church, Regardless Of Its Size Or Circumstances, Is A Glorious Temple To God, And His Dwelling Place

 

Text:  “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in Whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

 

Statement:

  • There is no way to adequately describe or adequately express our gratitude to God for what He has done for us – taking us from where we began when we were born into this sinful world, to the glory of being part of His people, the saints, and being built into the glorious holy temple of God in Christ Jesus.  Here we consider “our” progress – but none of it is accomplished by us, but rather by God, by the Lord Jesus Christ, and the gracious love, mercy, and compassion of God our Savior! 

 

Application:

  • All of this is accomplished through His Word and His promises, for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”  Likewise, through His Sacraments – which are in reality merely visible means by which God’s Word is applied to us, and they are full of His gracious promises.  The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is “His true body and blood, given and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins,” His blood by which we are brought near to God each week. 

 

Conclusion:

  • Apart from God’s Word and the Sacrament of Christ’s body and blood we drift further and further away from God, away from His people, and away from all blessedness and goodness.  And it doesn’t really matter what we think of as “legitimate” causes or “reasons” for staying away – God’s gracious compassion toward us, the blood of Jesus Christ which reconciles us to God, also reconciles all believers in Christ to one another.
  • Likewise, if we understand the reconciling nature of God’s gracious  mercy and forgiveness – which all centers in His compassion, we recognize that there is no way for us refuse reconciliation with all other children of God.  The measure of our willingness to do this is a measure of our progress in Christian faith and life – a diagnostic of how close we are willing to allow Christ to come to us, and how willing we are to allow Him to bring us near to God and His people.
  • So, as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Jerome Idaho, we may want to consider – “How well are we doing?”  The answer to this question is not to be found in numerical statistics, but rather in these questions:  Is the Word of God still here at the center of our fellowship?  Are the Sacraments of the Lord Jesus Christ still here in our midst?  
  • Of greater concern to God is “How well are you doing” as Christians, in your spiritual life and being?  That question is answered by your proximity and closeness to God’s gracious mercy and love in His Word and Sacraments, and is displayed in your love, forgiveness, and reconciliation with others. 
  • May God grant His continued blessings upon this beautiful congregation,  and may we all continue to grow and mature beautifully under the influence of His gracious mercy and love, 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.