Rev. Joel Fritsche
IN THE NAME OF JESUS. AMEN.
Complete sentences aren’t in these days. There’s facebook and texting and all kinds of abbreviations along with them. I thought learning Greek was hard. Sometimes I really have to work hard decode the texting abbreviations. Thankfully there are websites devoted to this. Years ago I thought it was fun when you typed in a sentence and had it translated into Jive or into Redneck or even into Elmer Fudd. Now you can go to transL8it.com and translate from text lingo into plain English or from English into text lingo. I have to go there sometimes to decipher assignments from my confirmands. Like I said, complete sentences aren’t in these days. You may not have verbs or even full words. BUT…
When you hear the Word of God pay attention to the verbs. Take note of the tenses: past, present, future. Take note of subjects and objects so that you know who is doing what and to whom what is being done. In Ephesians 2 in the original Greek you don’t even really get a complete sentence at the beginning of the chapter. Well, you do, but the subject doesn’t come until verse 4 and the main verb until verse 5. The English fools you a little bit and cleans all that up. But if you take it as it stands and pull out the subject, the verb and the object you have “GOD MADE US ALIVE.”
God is the doer, not you! Like the dependent clauses at the beginning of this chapter you cannot stand alone. Why not? You’re dead! Dead in your trespasses and sins! That’s what you WERE! Note the past tense, but we’ll come back to that. You were the walking dead. When you’re dead you walk the way of the world. You walk the way of the devil and evil spirits. You pursue the passions of the flesh, the desires of the body and mind. It’s all about you (that’s a capital U). And where does that put “U”? Under the wrath of God.
But that’s all in the past, right. You don’t live that way anymore, do you? Do you? Is your life all about you? Are you in it for yourself? Do you want to stand alone? Do you want to be the walking dead? Passion! Desire! We like those things! Doesn’t actually sound too bad until that wrath of God part. Did you hear the psalm we prayed? “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the earth stand in awe of Him. For He spoke and it came to be; He commanded and it stood firm” (Ps. 33:8-9). If that’s His creative power then imagine His destructive power. A look at God’s commandments, His Law assures you that you ARE dead. You are under His wrath. Remember the Close of the Commandments? “God threatens to punish all who break these commandments. Therefore we should fear His wrath and not do anything against them.” What do I do? I’m dead for sure!
But there’s more to stand in awe of here than God’s wrath. St. Paul would have you stand in awe of God’s saving, life-giving power, to stand in awe of God’s GRACE! That’s an acronym worth remembering! “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” No need to decode it. The Lord reveals what it’s all about. GRACE! Jesus walked the way of death in your place all the way to the cross. He became the dead man. At the cross He was the one who walked in the passions of the flesh, the desires of the body and mind. He was the child of wrath, taking the fullness of God’s wrath and anger on Himself to the point of death. “Thou camest to our hall of death, O Christ, to breathe our poisoned air , To drink for us the dark despair That strangled our reluctant breath” (LSB 834:3). God’s Son was given into death and you are given life. GRACE! You are given grace and every blessing in Him.
GIVEN! “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). And don’t forget the last verse: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Salvation is gift! Faith is gift! New life is God’s gift! And God, in His grace purposed it all for you from eternity.
The Lord is all about giving! And we’re all about being given to by the Lord. We’re all about being made alive by the Lord. You’ve been given Christ’s life in Baptism. Jesus didn’t stay dead. God raised Him from the dead, and you with Him at the font. God doesn’t leave His beloved for dead. Christ’s resurrection is yours. It means that in Him you walk a new way of life, no longer on the course of the world, no longer for yourself. “Christ died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:15).
Remember the rest of the Close of the Commandments? “God promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands.” That’s the new life GIVEN you in Christ Jesus: GIVEN at the font, GIVEN in His absolution, GIVEN at His Table again today. There’s nothing left for you to do, no boasting, just being given to, to receive the life of Jesus and walk in it to the praise and glory of God, a life of high doxology!
Complete sentences aren’t in these days. Unfortunately neither is complete salvation. The Lord gets things done for you. God made you alive. Complete sentence. Complete salvation. In Christ there are no abbreviations or lingo to translate or decode. It’s quite simple: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
IN THE NAME OF JESUS. AMEN.
This sermon was preached at the Matins service on Friday during Given 2010 in Logan, UT.
Created: August 10th, 2010