Sermon 21


Believe in Jesus

Pastor Marshall

Romans 3.22


You’re wrong if you think you can set things straight in your life by yourself or with some help from your family, friends and the wonders of nature. You’re wrong if you think you can get in touch with the best and most beautiful – the spiritual realm, if you will – by looking within your soul. You’re wrong because making your life right only happens by way of the Savior, Jesus Christ. How do I know that? What’s my proof for that assertion? To begin with, the holy words of the Bible say in Romans 3.22 that the “righteousness of God has been disclosed through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” Believe, then, in Jesus (John 14.1) – do so even though some believe saying so “is like trying to make flowers grow by pulling on them” (G. Forde, “Something to Believe,” Interpretation, July 1993)! No, believe, for without Jesus in our lives, we cannot be set straight. There will be no heavenly righteousness in us. Our days instead will be dull and depressed, selfish and sedated. We’ll lack any abundance of spirit. We’ll lack any hope for a joyous life to come beyond the grave. We’ll be without stability and power to serve. We’ll know no true joy.

     So how does the Savior Jesus Christ do all of this for us? In Romans 5.9 it says his blood saves us from the wrath of God. That’s how Jesus enriches us. This is because God – the maker of all – is after everyone of us. He wants to punish us for our sins; our mistakes, perversions and wastefulness. He cuts us no slack. Not a bit! His standards are as high as can be. So we come off really badly. The only way we can get out of this mess is to have someone help us who is free of the mess while still being in it with us. That one is Jesus Christ himself. He’s the Savior. And he lifts us up out of our many failures by himself sinking down into them. How so? By being treated by God as if he had made all the mistakes. So God comes down on him like a ton of bricks. Bam! He has him nailed to the Cross. He hits him in our place. God’s punishments are all directed straight at him that God’s light and blessings may once again shine on us.

    Now if we believe that message and entrust our lives to Jesus Christ, then we’re saved. Then the burden of sin is lifted. Then we can finally see through our dullness and depression, our selfishness and sedation – and start to live in God’s presence. So thank God for Jesus. Thank God for opening your mind and softening your heart so you can know him and love him. Then receive him in, with and under the bread and wine of the Holy Communion that your faith in him may grow and control you more and more each day. Do all of this, knowing with Martin Luther, who preached in 1530, if you have Christ you have everything, and if you don’t, you have nothing (LW 23.55)!          Amen.

   (written on October 29, 2006)