Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Sunday January 15th 2017 - / 1st Corinthians 1:1-9 / God is faithful
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday January 15th 2017: Season of Epiphany/ 1st Corinthians 1:1-9 "God is faithful"
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Today we have the baptism of an infant, Kylie Carlson, in our 11am Service. The baptism of a baby is a wonderful illustration to us all of the work of Christ for us, the work of Jesus for you. Saint Paul in our Epistle reading today writes, "I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."
Saint Paul says that the Grace of God is given to you in Christ Jesus. The infant we baptize today cannot take grace for herself, she cannot reason it out, she cannot apprehend it by some strength that is in her. Infants are weak in comparison to adults in the prime of their life. In this way Kylie Carlson is a great example of how we all, no matter what age, receive the Grace of God. We can only receive it as it is given. No amount of wrestling with God will take it from God. God who is almighty must give His grace to you. In the Sacrament of Holy Baptism God give His Grace to us in the person of Christ Jesus His One and only Son, God also gives you in your baptism the Holy Spirit. Elsewhere Saint Paul says in Titus, chapter three that: “[God] saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by [God's] grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Again can Kylie Carlson run her own bath, change her own diaper, can she feed herself, or tuck herself in to sleep at night? No, She also cannot pour out the Holy Spirit upon herself, and neither can you, neither can any of us. She needs to have faith given to her as a gift. Faith is given by God. It is a gift. Today this (will happen for her) has happened. Saint Paul also says in Romans chapter 10 that, "faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." Yes the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, is not found only in the pouring out of water on the one being baptized. Lutherans believe very firmly that the Word of God is active. The Small Catechism says, "Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s word." "faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." She does not yet understand those words spoken today, buy her little ears receive them as they receive all the sounds she hears. But today these words, this water, this command of Jesus to baptize add up to something more than random sound, and a splash of water.
In 1st Corinthians Paul continues to say that, "in every way you were enriched in Him," enriched in Christ Jesus. As we grow in life we start to have the ability to make choices, some of the choices we make are not too bad, others don't turn out well. When it comes to being enriched in your faith there are a couple things to remember. Let's use the analogy of food. When you are a baby, a small infant, the smallest of babies, when you're hungry food is prepared and given to you and you eat it. You drink the milk, eventually you eat the pabulum, and latter you move onto solid food. One day your sippy cup turns into a regular cup, one day the spoon, the fork, even the knife ends up in your hand and not in the hand of your mother or father. And along the way you learn the word "no." And the word "no" combined with Brussels sprouts might end up with you putting down your fork in protest, much to the consternation of the parent who is faithfully preparing your meal and placing it before you day in and day out. Stubbornness is a sin. In its folds you might find, ingratitude, discontent, anger, selfishness, general disobedience. In Christ Jesus God the Father enriches us, the Holy Spirit - in Christ Jesus - enriches us. Week in and week out the gift of Christ for you is prepared, the table is set, and the invitation is made. The stubborn soul who pushes away from the table, refuses to eat, even those who throw a tantrum because the do not like the meal, those who clench their teeth and refuse the enrichment that comes in Christ Jesus are not nourished as God desires them to be. Yes, many will even avoid the table all together in favour of other endeavours in which they believe nourishment might be found. But there is no promise of nourishment apart from the table set by the Lord. The word of God is on every page of a Bible but a Bible unread will provide no nourishment, just as food on a plate provides no nourishment if the fork never reaches the mouth.
Does the parent say, 'well if the child doesn't want to eat I won't make them eat?' Maybe in desperation some days but you wouldn't say that permanently. Does the parent say, 'We'll they can eat whatever they want, if they don't like vegetables I won't serve them vegetables ever again.' It may be tempting to think that, but the vegetables will show up on the plate again. Does the parent say, 'I'll let them decide whether or not they will brush their teeth.' No, the parent continues to teach them how to do this. The parent continues in their work and that work doesn't end when the child is grown, the work changes but never ends. While they have breath they continue in their nurturing, enriching. This is faithfulness. And, so it is with the Lord. Saint Paul in 1st Corinthians says, "God is faithful." Where we are not faithful, God is faithful, faultlessly faithful. We bristle, and grouse, we grump, and whinge but not Christ Jesus, not the Holy Spirit, not God the Father, no They are faithful and full of love, "God is love." Earthly parents may fail in their calling to always love, to be consistently faithful in raising and nurturing and enriching their children but God does not fail in this love. His love is persistent, enduring, it is truly longsuffering and it is a never-ending reservoir. You might give up on God but God will not give up on you. In fact if you have given up on God, be encouraged, listen to His voice as He calls you home, His voice will not stop calling you. Especially for those of you who are baptized, who have been made children of the Heavenly Father, heirs of eternity with you Brother Christ Jesus. For you the Holy Spirit always calls.
In the Apostles Creed we confess today, "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen." Kylie Carlson will learn these words as she grows in her faith, she will learn what they mean, just as you have learned what they mean, just as we are all learning what they mean every day. To help in this learning the Small Catechism asks the question, "What does this mean?" "What do these words mean?" Here is the answer that is given, "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified [made me holy] and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true."
Whether you are a baby, or a child or an adult it is the work of God in Christ Jesus, accomplished today in you by the working of the Holy Spirit, in the steadfast Love of God the Father which gives you life, Eternal Life, which gives you all of these gifts. A very early Church Father, and early Christian teacher, Irenaeus (120-202 A.D.), wrote the following: "[Jesus] came to save all [people] through Himself -all I say, who through Him are reborn in God- infants, and children, and youths, and old men [all the baptized]. Therefore [Jesus] passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age, and at the same time becoming for them an example of piety, of righteousness, and of submission; [Jesus then likewise became] a young man for youths, becoming an example for youths and sanctifying them for the Lord." He then became a man, that all mankind would have salvation through Him. This Christian faith then is for all people, of all ages and walks of life, no one is excluded from entry into it. Exclusion today, in a city like Regina, in a province like Saskatchewan, in a country like Canada comes in the form of self exclusion. Or in the case of those who cannot partake of their own accord because of their age Exclusion comes because of the neglect of others, neglect of their spiritual needs.
The good news for you today is that it is God who is faithful, and it is God who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is what Saint Paul writes in 1 Corinthians, "[God] will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." But I am not guiltless you say! I've not been sustained guiltless! Haven't you? You are forgiven in Christ. In the waters of Baptism all you sin was washed away. Daily your sins are forgiven, simply ask. Jesus makes you just, makes you Holy, not by your work, not by your reason, not by your strength, not by your keeping of God's law. Jesus is as John the Baptizer says He is, Jesus is, "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" He has taken your sin away. Including the sin you think is so terrible that it is unforgivable. All of it He has taken away. He faithfully did this in His cross, and passion, by His agony and bloody sweat, by His precious death and burial, by His glorious resurrection and ascension. In baptism this is now yours, as Saint Paul says in Romans 6, "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin." Your old self and it's guilt, it's sin, is daily drown in the waters of your baptism, it is brought to nothing each time you hear the words spoken by your pastor, "In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," it is brought to nothing each time, you pray in the Lord's prayer, with a repentant heart, these words given to you by Christ Jesus, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;" Yes, the body of sin, your old self, is brought to nothing, each time you take the Lord's Supper and receive Jesus' very body and blood, the same body and blood that hung on the cross for you.
This is why Jesus says, “Let the children come to Me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” I had someone after a baptism ask, 'does that mean that adults can't receive the kingdom of God?' It is the nature in which it is received. Whatever the age is it is ours is to receive, in faith we receive what is given, it is all a gift just as all that a baby receives is a gift. And as Saint Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians today the giver of the gift is faithful and true, He is steadfast and will sustain you to the end. This is true for Kylie Carlson today, it is likewise for you, a promise that you can hear and receive, a promise that you can cling tight to knowing that just as a baby clings tightly to its mother or father, in truth it is not the baby who clings the hardest, it is the parent who clings on to the child, who holds onto the child who makes sure the child is not dropped. Jesus says, "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." So all the while as you cling to Christ, He perfectly clings to you. You are in His hand. God has you and will sustain you right through unto the end. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Titus 3:5–8
 Romans 10:17
 1 John 4:8
 Against Heresies 2:22:4 [A.D. 189]
 Romans 6:3-6
 Mark 10:13-15
 John 10:28-29