Monday, October 31, 2016

Sermon for Reformation Sunday: "Free Indeed"

+ Reformation Sunday - October 30th, 2016 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Revelation 14:6-7; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Free shipping from Amazon. Buy one beer get another free at happy hour. Free gifts for the kids on game day at Angels’ Stadium.

I think it’s fair to say that most of us love the idea of something free, something for nothing. No matter the product or place, attaching that little word “free” onto an advertisement gets most people excited…unless of course it’s all the junk mail and political ads freely distributed to our mailboxes.

Problem is, there’s always a catch. Free shipping…but only on orders over $35. “Buy one get one free” might be a good deal, but it’s not really free; you still have to buy something. And free giveaways at sporting events are fun, but they could run out or it might just be a stuffed rally monkey for the kids.

Like our grandmothers used to tell us. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. There’s always the fine print. There are terms, limits, or conditions.

Not so in Christianity. The Gospel is the exception to the no-free-lunch rule. All other world religions tell you to achieve, ascend, be worthy, obey, submit, follow the rules, and so on. and only then do you earn, merit, or deserve salvation. Not so in Christianity. Christianity is free. Jesus justifies the ungodly. Jesus who knew no sin became sin for us. In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting our trespasses against us. Jesus gives you a righteousness and justifies you apart from works of the Law. If the Son sets you free you are free indeed.

That’s what the Reformation was about. What it’s still about and why we still celebrate it: Jesus crucified for you.

Your freedom from sin, death, and the devil is not found in gold or silver, nor it is found in indulgences or anything we do or feel.  

To be sure, our salvation cost something… But we didn’t and can’t pay it. Jesus paid that price for you. Jesus redeemed you and sets you free by his death for you.

 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

This is the freedom Martin Luther longed for. Before the Reformation, Luther saw Jesus not as a gracious liberator, but a fearful judge. Jesus was not a merciful Redeemer, but a merciless example to follow. Luther was captive to an endless merry-go-round of indulgences, works, and man-made traditions – each one promising freedom from sin, but only further tightening the chains of slavery.

True freedom – Luther discovered – is found in Jesus Crucified who sets us free. True freedom isn’t found by looking at what we say, do, think, or feel, but what Christ has done and still does for us in his death and resurrection. True freedom isn’t found in our righteousness, but in his redemption that declares you righteous.

This is the freedom Jesus teaches us in John 8.

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

To be free in Jesus…to be Jesus’ disciple is to abide in Jesus’ Word. All other words promise freedom but fail to deliver. Abide in Jesus’ Word. Be connected to Jesus by hearing His Word, by taking the time each day to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest his Word. Abide in Jesus’ Word where he promises to abide with you, here in the Word made flesh of the Lord’s Supper. Abide in the Word and Water of your Baptism that sets you free. Abide in the Word of Absolution that declare: you are forgiven. You are free.

Jesus uses that little same word “abide” when he declares that we are the branches and he is the Vine. We the branches abide in the Vine; our life and health and growth flow from Jesus the Vine to us his branches. Cut us off from the Vine and we are fruitless and dead branches. Cut off from Jesus’ Word, we become fruitless and dead too.

More than that, when we don’t abide in Jesus’ Word we will find other words to abide in.
Like Israel, we rebel against God’s Word and fashion golden calves for ourselves. Our sinful flesh is an idol factory with a full-time assembly line running through our thoughts, words, and deeds.

Like Israel, sin blinds us to our captivity. We’re offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

Like Israel, we are slaves to sin, unable to free ourselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.

Truth is, we are slaves to sin. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
But that’s not the only truth that Luther set free in the Reformation.

The truth is, Jesus sets us free. Jesus dwells with us sinners. Jesus, the Son of God becomes the Son of Mary, so that we can become children of God. And that is who you are.
Yes, all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God…but you are justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Yes, the wages of sin is death…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Yes, we were slaves to sin…but Jesus sets you free from your captivity. Jesus became a slave to all our sin to set you free. Jesus entered our captivity to rescue you. Jesus was bound in death’s chains to release you from death. And if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.

Therefore, Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God (1 Peter 2)

You are no longer slaves to sin, but God’s free children. You have a place in his house, a seat at his table, and the victory feast is ready. Come, eat and drink the free forgiveness in Jesus’ body and blood.

Now to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment