Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
303-665-6105
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October 14 – Pentecost 20 – Mark 10:17-22 – The Nature Of Faith

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Gospel Lesson just read, from Mark 10.  We begin with prayer.

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

  • Throughout God’s Word “faith” is lauded as the most important and existential reality in a human being.  Faith in God, true and genuine faith in the Only True and Living God, changes everything about a person.  Either we have “faith” in God – or we are putting our faith in something that is far inferior and deficient; and all such “faith,” faith in anything other than true faith in God, ultimately corrupts and destroys a human being.  This reality is clearly described and seen in all three of our Scripture readings.
  • So, while true and genuine “faith” in God is a simple thing – so that even the tiniest of children can have it, “faith” is also permeating reality that infiltrates every aspect of our being and behaving.  Most importantly, faith penetrates to the very core of our being – so that rather than “going away” from the Lord Jesus Christ we would rather suffer the loss of all things – even great wealth and possessions.   We see that this is “THE NATURE OF FAITH” in the interaction between Jesus and the rich man in our text, the man whom Jesus “loved.”  But first we must consider that:

 

I.  Apart From Faith In God There Is Only Miserable Behavior

     

A.  Apart From Faith There Is Injustice And All Manner Of Wickedness

 

OT Lesson:  “They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks the truth.  Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine.  For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate.”

 

B.  Apart From Faith There Is Only Hardness Of Heart, Rebellion, And Disobedience

 

Epistle Lesson:  “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.  But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

 

C.  Worst Of All, Apart From Faith There Remains Only The Idolatry Of Greed, Selfishness, And Wealth – And Going Away From The Lord And Savior Jesus Christ

 

Text:  “Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’  Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

 

Statement:

  • Those who engage in all manner of wickedness obviously have no “faith” in God – they demonstrate that they do not know His commitment to good, His care for the good and welfare of all people, or His power and prerogative, and that they have no fear or respect for Him.  In view not only of God’s power and goodness but also His great love for us in Christ Jesus, such unbelief is hardness of heart and utter rebellion against “the Living God.”  Unbelievers demonstrate that they reject Him even though He loves them.  And for those who have no faith, they must find another “object” for their devotion and their purpose for being – and all too often that is themselves: greed, selfishness, pride, self-aggrandizement, and the pursuit of their inner sinful desires. 

 

Application:

  • Is the world filled with such people?  Is this not “what makes the world go around”?   And as the Epistle Lesson informs us, we too must be “warned” against having “an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” 
  • So, much of this also exists within the church itself – for even the rich man in our text had his “encounter” with Jesus.  So this is a word of dire warning to us as well – that we not cling to anything that keeps us from following the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  Not everyone, and not everything, even within the church, is a good example to follow.  Christ must be our Lord, the object of our faith and our devotion, and Christ alone!  The church exists to facilitate this loyalty to Christ, and  consists of such loyalty to Christ.

 

Transition:  For such faith and trust in Christ Jesus is a remarkable and powerful thing – and this is what the “true” church is all about! 

 

II.  True And Genuine Faith In Jesus Christ Produces A Remarkable Remaking Of Human Hearts

 

A.  First, It Enables An Honesty In Confessing Ourselves Guilty Of All Sins, Rather Than Claiming Innocence – As The Rich Man Did, And As All Unbelievers Do

    

Text:  “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.”

OT Lesson:  “they abhor him who speaks the truth.”

 

B.  Such Genuine Faith In God’s Gracious Mercy And Forgiveness      Produces An Overwhelming, Earnest, And Humble Gratitude To God        For His Gracious Gift Of Forgiveness And Salvation In Christ Jesus

 

Text:  “Go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

 

C.  Such Genuine Faith In God’s Love And Devotion To Him Will Engender An Eagerness To Seek Good, To Please And Honor God, And To Forsake Idolatry And Sin

 

OT Lesson:  “Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said.  Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate.”

 

Statement:

  • Even within the church there is a dire temptation and a steady effort to find ways to “follow” Jesus, while at the same time “keeping” our possessions and prerogatives – still doing what we want to do, making Christ’s “church” something less than our first and only priority in life, and still pursuing devotion and commitment to ourselves, our success, our accumulation of things, as the central and controlling dynamic in our lives. 

 

Application:

  • But this is precisely the warning of the Epistle Lesson, and what is illustrated in our text – allowing selfishness and greed to produce within us “an evil, unbelieving heart” which leads us “to fall away from the living God” – to actually “go away” from Jesus because of our love for other things.
  • This is the principal sin, the core sin – desiring something more than God.  So it is also the sin we confess – and through faith in God’s gracious mercy and forgiveness, we are turned away from this sin, and this changes everything for us!  Understanding God’s love, His gracious mercy and forgiveness, His promises of the blessedness that is to come, the very core of our being is changed – so that our orientation, from the depth of our heart is to “sell all” and to follow Jesus.

 

Conclusion:

  • These are the options available to human beings:  either one believes in God, or one does not truly believe in Him.  The consequences in life are momentous: the one believing in Jesus is filled with gratitude and devotion to God, willing to “sell all” in following Jesus, while the one not believing is devoted to self – greed, selfishness, pride, arrogance, and sinful appetite.  It is obvious which option yields the greater good – both to self and others.  It is obvious which option is God’s will for us! 
  • God spare us all from “the deceitfulness of sin,” that we may “share in Christ . . . holding our original confidence to the end.”  For then our lives will reflect and demonstrate that we are indeed following Jesus.  May He grant it to us all by His mercy.  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.