Greater than these you will see / John 1, 1 Samuel 3, Psalm 139, 1 Corinthians 6 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday January 17th 2021 /
Texts: John 1.43-51; 1Corinthians 6.12-20; Psalm 139; 1Samuel 3.1-10
Theme: Greater than these you will see
Intr – In my hands I have a copy of a book, a random book. As you look to it you don’t see many reasons why it would special to the point of being brought to the pulpit for a Sunday morning sermon, right? Now, what if I told you this book comes straight out of the Queen’s shelf, and has a handwritten note signed by her on the first page?
All of a sudden everything changes. If you believe in what I’m saying, now you see greater things. What seemed to be just regular now becomes dressed with a new world of meaning and importance.
The readings for today are a reminder to us of the greater things we are able to see as we are in faith in Jesus – or the things you will be able to see, dear listener, if you are yet to be connected to Him by faith.
1 Samuel 3 – Little prophet-to-be Samuel has the unique experience of hearing the Lord speak directly to him. But he had to have his eyes opened by the Priest so he would recognize it. As he knows that it is the Lord speaking to Him, he sees greater things that ever before in his life.
Psalm 139 – Because of faith in Jesus, now we know that the world is not a sequence of random actions anymore. It is not ruled by mighty power of mighty countries or empires. We even learn that there’s no such spot in the World we can call “out of reach”. The Lord is everywhere we may go.
It may be a word of Law – He knows everything, so be mindful He know every breath you take. You might perceive it as vigilance that provokes fear. But above all it is a word of Gospel – He knows everything, so stop pretending you can take care of things in your life as if you were the ruler of it. He is the Caring God who knows even your thought before you have them. He takes care of you.
1Corinthians – In faith we see greater things for our body and, specifically in this reading, for our sexual life. We learn that sex is nothing like the permissive culture of our time tries to make us believe, but it is a special, beautiful gift from God to be used wisely within marriage. We will strive to flee sexual immorality as much as we can because of another greater concept we can only see in faith - our body is not just a clump of cells, just energy, or a mere carcass that will be eaten by worms in the grave. It is temple of the Holy Spirit. So we want to make the best use of it, avoiding uniting it with sexual immorality, porneia in Greek – one of the roots of the word pornography. Are we free in Christ, says Paul? We surely are. Everything is lawful but… not everything should is profitable. Our freedom is a gift to be used with wisdom.
John 1 – Phillip sees greater when he meets the carpenter of Nazareth. He thought nothing good could come out of Nazareth. The Messiah would certainly come from a more important place. He was limited. Now he sees more. And Jesus promises even greater things.
In faith we see greater things. That applies to our daily life to.
_Forgiveness – The Church is becoming the only place you can find it. It was already when it comes to Christ’s forgiveness, but looks like it is expanding into any type of mercy. The other day a famous Hollywood actor declared “Cancel culture is killing forgiveness”. Cancel culture is a movement that seeks to mercilessly erase everything that doesn’t agree with it. Including forgiveness. As Christians, we see greater things. We see forgiveness for all, even for the worst sinner.
_Peace – You don’t look for it just as a contact with nature, a connection with yourself or absence of conflict. You see the greater picture of God’s peace that surpasses all understangind and keeps you world together even when everything else ifis falling apart.
_Daily life – you know that every single day is a gift from the Creator, and every action in your day is soaked in God’s protection, contentment and love.
_Hope – while a smaller view of hope may guide into the shallowness of human efforts, you see the greater Hope hidden in Christ revealed in the Gospel and applied to life. Hope that nothing and no one can take away from your heart.
Love – You don’t narrow it down to mere bodily feelings or to exaggerated passion for things that don’t bring you full meaning. IN the greater picture of God’s love you see words, action, certainty and fulfillment.
Faith brings us greater things to see and believe. But remember, we are able not to see greatly only, but to act and share greatly as well. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in us good works follow faith, always. That’s why Paul is so sharp and to the point with the topic of sexual immorality, as with many other practical aspects of Christina life. Just because we Christian Lutherans super emphasize Faith Alone, it doesn’t mean that faith appears alone. It comes with good works. Actually, it is necessary to do good works. We say that you receive life eternal through faith. But if you walk according to the flesh, in sin, listen to this, you can’t retain neither faith nor righteousness. Summary: we are saved by faith so that we may begin to do good works and to obey God’s Law. We are transformed and receive the Holy Ghost for the very end that the new life may produce new works, new dispositions, the fear and love of God, fleeing our inclination to do what’s wrong. Your faith arises in repentance, and must be established and grow in the midst of good works, temptations, and dangers, so that we may continually be the more firmly persuaded that God for Christ’s sake cares for you, forgives you, hears you. This is not learned without many and great struggles.
Hardships. Battles. Growth. This is the battle field in which we Christian labour every day. Last Sunday we talked about war on sin, and that is our daily struggle. Thanks be to God that He hasn’t killed forgiveness. Rather, His Only Son was killed so that every time we fall into sin, be it sexual immorality or any other, we can always turn back to him in repentance and faith, to be restored and to have him strengthening us back into our daily life.
Cc – As you probably already know, this book is not straight out of the Queen’s Palace. This book here though (The Bible) comes straight out of the King’s Place. As we place faith in the center of its narrative – Jesus – we will see greater things. The ones that feed our soul, guide our life and assure us eternity.
 A further note about how important our “body” is, connecting with Psalm 139, where the psalmist affirms God “formed ME”. He declares of himself to be an autonomous, human being right of the bat, inside his mother’s womb. Life starts right there, not only when someone determines a “clump of cells” to be (autonomous, viable, sentient, etc…).
 Apology of the Augsburg Confession V, paragraphs 227-227.
Full text (227-231): “But here again the adversaries will cry out that there is no need of good works if they do not merit eternal life. These calumnies we have refuted above. Of course, it is necessary to do good works. We say that, eternal life has been promised to the justified. But those who walk according to the flesh retain neither faith nor righteousness. We are for this very end justified, that, being righteous, we may begin to do good works and to obey God’s Law. We are regenerated and receive the Holy Ghost for the very end that the new life may produce new works, new dispositions, the fear and love of God, hatred of concupiscence, etc. This faith of which we speak arises in repentance, and ought to be established and grow in the midst of good works, temptations, and dangers, so that we may continually be the more firmly persuaded that God for Christ’s sake cares for us, forgives us, hears us. This is not learned without many and great struggles. How often is conscience aroused, how often does it incite even to despair when it brings to view sins, either old or new, or the impurity of our nature! This handwriting is not blotted out without a great 230 struggle, in which experience testifies what a difficult matter faith is. And while we are cheered in the midst of the terrors and receive consolation, other spiritual movements at the same time grow, the knowledge of God, fear of God, hope, love of God; and we are regenerated, as Paul says, Col. 3:10 and 2 Cor. 3:18, in the knowledge of God, and, beholding the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, i.e., we receive the true knowledge of God,231 so that we truly fear Him, truly trust that we are cared for, and that we are heard by Him.