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10/28/18 Sermon - Reformation

Sermon October 28, 2018 Reformation Sunday

John: 8:31-36

 

Dear friends in Christ Jesus, grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father, and from our LORD and Savior Jesus. Amen

 

Many of us can remember when Christianity occupied center stage in our nation's religious culture. Today the general public seems to consider Christianity either equal to other world religions or not considered at all. The body of CHRIST and its ministry are not taken seriously or even deemed necessary. mainline congregations shun use the name of a denomination. People younger than 40 find church insignificant. Even the most casual observer will admit that the church of Jesus CHRIST is in jeopardy, and for too long the church has been in denial of its condition.

Much like the Jewish believers referred to in today’s Gospel, who were offended when Jesus challenged their status, so is the church today. “We are Abraham’s descendants,” they said, “and we have never been slaves to anyone.”

Making that statement regarding freedom revealed their ignorance or they were in denial of their own situation. The people of Israel had been enslaved by foreign powers for hundreds of years.

Many Americans appear to be ignorant about freedom, as well. We say that we are free, but do we really know what freedom really is, or maybe we don’t want responsibilities that go along with freedom. We celebrate that no one rules over us, and that we have the freedom to speak our mind or show our ignorance. Beyond our “Bill of Rights,” many Americans believe that our freedom allows us to do what ever we want. Yet, in actuality we subjugate ourselves to any number of “masters.”

• we imprison ourselves financially.

• we allow our schedules to rule our lives.

• we consider bigger and better to be the only goals worth attaining.

* we chain ourselves to a lifestyle that is eternally terminal.

 

Freedom has an expensive price tag. Great sacrifices were made that we might have freedom, and we must be ever vigilant to remain free. Besides the nations who would like to take away our freedom and rule over us, there are many people within our very own country seeking to do the same.

 

Christian freedom is costly as well. The life and death of Jesus God’s own son, was the price of our freedom. The cross of Jesus Christ obtained the freedom that we have as Christians. And yet many “Christians” seem to be willing to surrender and live in bondage to sin—rather than reform from old deadly habits.

 

Paul stated in Romans 3: “It is for freedom that CHRIST has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

 

Our freedom is defined by living the truth of God’s word: to do that means we must know what God’s word is saying. We must use God’s word for the decisions we make in life and how we prioritize what is really important. We are free in CHRIST when we repent of our sin and seek God’s forgiveness. It is the only means by which we can put the past behind us.

 

Even when we encounter difficult times in life, we are free in CHRIST when we still rejoice in God’s presence and power in our lives. We are free in CHRIST when we refuse to worry because we place our trust in the LORD God almighty.

 

CHRIST has set us free from selfishness and self-centeredness, empowering us to see the needs of others and serve them in Jesus name.

 

The Reformation in the 1500’s was about living the truth of God’s word, not twisting it to human selfish desires. It is that same reform that God calls us to be about right now.

 

The Reformation is about being set free to do all that God wants us to do.

 

In Holy Baptism we are washed clean from the sin into which we were born, and raised to a new life in CHRIST!

 

The Gospel-- God’s word nurtures and empowers our faith.

 

In Holy Communion we are fed and forgiven.

 

The evil one is constantly tempting us to believe that religion is about what we do and we don’t really need Jesus! Don’t fall for his lies. Yes know you are a sinner, but you have a Savior who loves and wants you and goes with you.

 

Luther realized the forgiveness of Jesus and preached it to all who would listen. It started a reformation-- a reformation that happens every time that message is proclaimed. That living Word is strong and powerful, still today making sinful beggars like you and me children of God. As Luther said then, it should be for us now: In CHRIST alone I take my stand.

 

LORD, grant us your freedom and grace for each day. When we struggle with decisions or feel conflicted about what to do next, guide us by your mercy. Forgive us when we stumble and fall. Lift us up to walk in your word and in your truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.