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Sermon - 10/27/19
2019.10.28 23:43:18

REFORMATION/S (2019) Rev. 14:6-7; Rom. 3:19-28; Mt. 11:12-19

 

Gospel,        Then I saw another angel flying over-head, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth… (v. 6). 

 

An ancient maxim posits, “the church is always being reformed” to her beliefs held “everywhere, always, by all” (Vincent of Lerins); and yet in all Christendom, only Lutherans celebrate “an eternal gospel” out of heaven for those on the earth. 

 

Our Reformation celebration is a singular witness of the church’s “eternal gospel” toward the denominations: to Rome, the East, Calvinists, Armenians, Anabaptists, the plethora of Neo-evangelicals, Fundamentalists, and Pentecostals, all traveling under the banner of “Christianity”. 

 

As faith comes by hearing the preached word (Rom. 10:17) then in some way this Sermon is intended to engender, not only individual repentance, but institutional reformation to the faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic church; whether it finds traction, God knows.

 

Such a reformation message, if received at all, at worst will be unwelcome or at best seen as a condescension; that said, as Christ is the only true interpreter of his word, today’s Scripture calls for forthright exposition.

 

By definition an eternal gospel” is not a collection of disparate, optional, or an amalgam of belief systems.  One study describes the mish-mash of generic “Christianity”, “One Christ, Many Creeds” (Pr. Erik Rottmann).  Against the collection of beliefs, one must attend Jesus, “from the days of JB until now the reign of heaven is being violently attacked, and violent men are trying to snatch it away” (Mt. 11:12). 

 

Who are these violent men? Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus was increasingly confronted by venomous opposition from the Pharisee party.  They brought the issue to a head, asking Jesus, “when” God’s reign on earth would commence?  He answered, that in his presence it was extant, “[B]ehold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Lk. 17:21b).  This was heaven’s proclamation, the sum and substance, of “an eternal gospel”; it was unwelcome then as it is today. 

 

Pharisaical types in all generations are offended by “an eternal gospel” of Jesus present in the congregation.  JB and Jesus both preached of repentance, our turning from sin, anticipating God’s reign in his Christ, his Son, and sacrificial Lamb.  St. Paul later reiterated, “man is justified by faith apart from works of the law (Rom. 3:28). 

 

But repentant “faith apart from works of the law was unacceptable to the Pharisees who understood that man’s Torah obedience, guided by their teaching would bring about a “repentance” of human righteousness, that in time would usher-in God’s reign.  From this vantage, you can imagine the offense from Jesus, “[B]ehold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

 

We see two disparate notions of “repentance”; Jewish leaders, especially the Pharisees rejected John’s baptism to which all Judea was coming. This is crucial; any other way of salvation than as God provides in Christ is a contrary way, a rebellion in the footsteps of our first parents having nothing to do with “an eternal gospel” from heaven.

 

Jesus warns us, “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplace, who as they call out to others, ‘We played the flute, but you [John] did not dance! We lamented, but you [Jesus] did not beat your breasts in mourning!’” (Mt. 11:16, 17). 

 

JB preached our welcoming of Messiah, by turning from sin to the new wineskins of a sacrifice God would provide (Gen 22:14). But for the Pharisees and scribes JB’s call for a change of heart was austere compared to the temple offerings and their own roadmap to Torah obedience.  JB did “not dance” to the pharisaical music.  

 

These same Pharisees, encountering Jesus, saw him eat with sinners; again, they balked judging Jesus careless of “their” Torah, “not mourning” sin; but instead rejoicing over repentant hearts at the good news of “an eternal gospel” in their midst. 

 

Man prefers his own salvation, over what God provides, which is the underlying pharisaical sin that foundationally continues today of every resistance to reformation toward “an eternal gospel”.  How sad!  

 

Adam and Eve’s original sin resulted in our perverse refusal of unconditional grace. Understanding that Baptism strips us naked with Christ crucified, so that we are without excuse is deemed too hard; still others judge Baptism’s water and word too lax and absent of power. 

 

Our sin nature always argues against God’s way, impelling us to the vanity of a “better” way than heaven’s “eternal gospel” of grace alone in Christ’s presence with his church.  Heaven knows of sin and our inability to trust solely in God; and so in Baptism we are graciously given the HS to possess Christ’s own faith. 

 

Man’s refusal of God’s way may be understandable; still sin is not excused. By Jesus’ preached word wisdom, the fear and trust in the Lord is conveyed; faith in “an eternal gospel” out of heaven, our corrective against an unremitting violence that would snatch away God’s reign.

 

The catalogue of violence against “an eternal gospel” is almost over-powering; still God’s remnant in Christ remains empowered by word and sacrament to hold on:

 

Rome employs unscriptural definitions of both “grace” (as earned substance) and “faith” (bald belief apart from contrition) to pit St. Paul against St. James. Rome’s liturgy, the great repository of forms and rites, is corrupted by a priesthood modeled on Aaron, and not Jesus’ Melchizedekian, that underpins its essential error, “works righteousness”. 

 

Zwingli and Calvin (the Reformed) violently threw Christ out with the church’s sacramental bathwater. If you want to know what generally defines Protestantism, it is rejection of Christ’s sacraments to be constitutive presence of “an eternal gospel”. 

 

Protestants reduce God’s word to information about him; no longer the power of God in Christ with us. The Reformed pervert God’s very nature as merciful and gracious by a doctrinal acrostic TULIP, so that his “choice” of you (or not) is arbitrary; salvation is only for the “lucky”.

 

Jacob Arminius’ objection to Calvin’s violence against “an eternal gospel” proffered a countervailing violence, making “salvation” instead a matter of “human decision” or “free will” contrary to Scripture (Ps. 51:5).

 

Do we go on? Pentecostalism, another man-oriented religion locates the truth of Scripture in individual hearts by an “internal light” separated from creation’s sacramental elements; thus, what is “true” is a matter of what everyone believes according to their own eyes.  Here M. Luther identified papistic claims to personal revelation as supreme “enthusiasm”. 

 

The violence of religious enthusiasts is Peter’s satanic sin (Mt. 16:22, 23). Enthusiasm is man’s natural (pagan) theology of glory in this world that would replace God’s sacrificial cross and snatching away rather than embracing Christian baptismal life.  

 

“An eternal gospel” from heaven for men on earth is not a generic gift. This gospel is too gloriously valuable for eternal Life, and too valuable to be proclaimed in other than singular specificity.  The crucified and risen man Jesus Christ reigns in his constitutive reality of presence in our midst by word and sacrament for faith, righteousness, and holiness before God. 

 

If this Sermon is less than “inclusive”; it was so intended, not as Lutheran boast, of which there must be repentance, but for the sake of denominational error. Our Reformation hope longs for reformation, a true communion in the blood of the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world over against all violence that would snatch away “an eternal gospel”, leaving but “another Jesus”, “a different spirit”, and “a different gospel” (2 Cor. 11:4; Gal. 1:6-9).  Amen.

 

pem.  




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