Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sermon for July 4

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
July 3-4th, 2010
Text: Luke 10:1-20

Dear Friends in Christ,
In the days leading up to the American Revolution, two things were very important. First was the sharing of accurate information about what was happening. Second was the education of the general public. Most Americans had little concept of governmental theory and individual rights. They hadn’t really thought these things through. So men were sent out throughout the thirteen colonies carrying news. Sometimes they would take it to newspapers. In places where the press was censored they might simply give the account at various locations - often taverns or churches. These men also carried with them pamphlets like Thomas Jefferson’s “On the Necessity of Taking Up Arm” and Thomas Pain’s “Common Sense”. Such men were not sent out to do their own thing. They carried a specific message. Part of their work was to educate people as to why it was necessary to separate from Briton. The common people didn’t always know this and needed to be taught. Without this education campaign, the American Revolution would have never happened.
Toward the end of His ministry, Jesus sent out seventy-two of His follows to preach. They weren’t just to preach anything. They were to preach the words that Christ had given them. This is a crucial point in understanding their work and Christian preaching today. They were sent out to talk about Christ. They were to warn people that the Kingdom of God was already among them. The point here is that their preaching was to have a specific content. This is true today as well. Christian preaching is to be about Christ. It is to be drawn from Holy Scripture. And yet this idea is under attack. A recent letter put out by a liberal group called Jesus First was claiming that the vast majority of people in the Missouri Synod held certain beliefs, as though this made them right. This is nonsense. Majorities don’t determine what is right teaching. Only the Word of God can do this. Brian McClaran, one of the so called emergent church gurus, stated that doctrine is to be determined by observing the pagans on the mission field. It is hard to imagine that anyone who said such a thing would be taken seriously. Yet, McClaran sell tons of books and is in constant demand as a speaker. What’s wrong with his position? Well, first how would the pagans know anything about God? That’s what it means when we call them pagans or heathen. They don’t know anything about the true God. So observing them would not reveal God. It would reveal godlessness. Further human observation can only see the things of this earth. We cannot see the things of God. In addition humans will never agree. So if you base the content of Christian preaching on human observation, there won’t be one Gospel but many false gospels.
True Christian preaching is drawn from the Word of God. Only then will there be a clear message. Only then will that message have authority. You see, what we do not and cannot know, God reveals to us in Holy Scripture. It comes from outside of ourselves. This is crucial to understanding the Gospel. It comes from God, not from ourselves.
Now it is not odd that people get it wrong today. Notice how the disciples came back all excited at the miracles that they had performed. Christ is less than impressed. The reason for this is that the disciples were excited about the wrong thing. The Scriptures do not say that they said anything about their preaching or about people coming to repentance. In other words they should have been excited because people listened to their preaching and came to faith. Instead, they were excited by the miracles. It was the old “look at me! look at me!” syndrom. The day would come when the miracles were no longer there. But the Word of God endures forever. Even after this world is gone, the Word remains.
Even locally, in our area, we have pastors and congregations that want flash and glitz. They will not tolerate the Word. What is lost? It’s very simple, if you lose the Word, you lose the words “your sins are forgiven.” You lose the words “you have eternal life.” You lose the words “the kingdom of God is among you.” For us to have the forgiveness of our sins, it must preached from our pulpits and taught in our classrooms. In other words, Christian preaching must have a specific content. That content is that we are sinners. That we sin with every breath. That we incapable of pleasing God by our own power. But that Jesus Christ has died for our sins and gives us forgiveness and life. That’s a message of repentance. You won’t learn that by observing pagans. You can only learn that by reading the Word of Holy Scripture.
Christ sent out the seventy-two to preach to the people. They came back excited that they could chase demons. Christ warns them that this not important. What is important is what they preached - that we are to repent of our sins because Christ is here. Christ is here, not to condemn, but to give forgiveness and life.

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