Encouraging with The Teaching, I /Sermon / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday November 8th 2020 - / 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Text: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Theme: Encouraging with Teaching - I
Intr – How do you encourage people in your daily life? Words, cards, phone calls are options. Sometimes even by not saying a word but just being there for them.
Paul is encouraging Christians in Thessalonica today. He is encouraging you too. How is he doing that? He might have chosen Psalm 37:5, Matthew 11:28, Romans 8:28, these are all good texts. Paul’s choice though is to teach doctrine - in this case, the specific doctrine of the resurrection for life. The way he wants his fellow brothers to encourage one another in these end times is by teaching and reaffirming what we believe about the end and the new beginning.
This is what I want to do too, brothers and sisters, following the steps of Paul, only broadening it. I want to give you incentive, in these end times, when everything related to moral, ethics, peace and justice seems to be derailing by the day, by bringing you doctrine; by bringing you the teachings that can actually encourage and comfort us in these and any time.
I’ll make use of a material that was used by The Lutheran Youth of Brazil as a way to stimulate the church's continuous doctrinal and practical reflection, inspired by the work of the Reformation, particularly the 95 theses. At the time, the battles and demands of Luther and the reformers were mainly those contained in the original theses. This is now an attempt to update the issues and questions facing the Church today. I’ll use half of them today, and the other half next Sunday, on a small series called “Encouraging with teaching”.
1 - We believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and in it we find all the revelation that God deemed necessary for the salvation of all peoples, at all times, not needing further revelations, whether by angels, prophets or any other person (2Tm 3:16). And we reject any attempt of using use the Sacred Text for the purpose of manipulating and dominating the people (2Pt. 1:20; Rm 12:7; 2Tm 2:15).
3 - We are completely focused on Grace and we claim that it always stands out. But we do not reject and are not ashamed of the Law, for it shows us our sin, pointing to Christ’s Grace. We need the Law in its three functions: Curb, mirror and guide. (Rm 5:21, Dt 6:5-6, Ps 119:111, Jn 14:21; Ps 19:7-14; Eph 2:8)
5 - We are not sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are sinners. Our problem is much more profound than having a few slips every now and then. Left to our own resources we would be lost. (Rm 7:18, Rm 3:10) Our problem with sin is solved as follows: Where sin abounded, the grace of God abounded even more, and Christ's work for us was totally sufficient to win forgiveness of sins, and thus, salvation and eternal life. (1Jn.1:9; Rm 5:20)
7 - We believe in Jesus Christ revealed in the Gospels and the Bible. He is totally divine and totally human. We do not believe in the Jesus of most of the programs on the History Channel or Discovery Channel whose production is based on dubious texts, not to say heretics, that domesticate and shape him according to the client's need and preference (Jn 1:1, 1Tm 2:5, Rev 17:14, Jo 20:28, Mt 28:18, Jn 19, Rev 5:5-6, Lk 24:25-27, Heb 1:8, Mt 16:15-16, Cl 1:15-17). We do not believe in the “martyr-revolutionary” Jesus of some, nor in the Jesus “guru-zen-comfort zone” of others, not even in the Jesus “miracle worker” of others. (Mt 16.16)
9 - We believe that God still can make and really performs miracles today. But we do not accept that they can be scheduled by humans as they wish. (Ps 77:14, Mt 19:26)
11 - We believe that in Sanctification the Holy Spirit enables us to cooperate with Him in our growth and Christian life. Christian life is full of ups and downs though, progress is not linear, nor is it often noticeable. That’s why we are cautious with ready-made recipes for being a better Christian; but we want to mature in the faith and become more and more like Christ.
13 - We believe that the main work of the Holy Spirit in us is faith. But we also believe in the legitimacy of other gifts bestowed by Him, remembering that his purpose never is, was or will be for personal promotion but for the benefit of the brothers of the church and others (1Co 12:1-31, 1Co 14:1-40, 1Pt 4:10, Rm 12:6). We accept that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are diverse and that we should neither be jealous of the gifts of others, nor categorize them hierarchically. Given this, there is no sense in the unbridled search for certain titles and positions in the Church of Christ, nor is competition between departments and areas of the church something to be fostered. (Rm 12:.3-5; 1Pt 2:9)
15 - We believe in Baptism for all ages. It is effective enough because of the promise of God connected to it, to save from newborn children to elderly people with Alzheimer's. It consoles us throughout our entire life. (Mc 16:16; 1Pt 3:21; Titus 3:15) We do not believe that the amount of water matters for a Baptism. We would recognize its value even if it happened with a single drop in a hospital ICU.
17 - As beneficiaries we found that talking about sin and repentance, despite having been common in the past, has become increasingly difficult in our culture, either because it sounds old-fashioned or because it sounds irrelevant. But hiding the dirt under the rug, avoiding guilt with delusions and victimism has not helped us at all. On the other hand, as agents, let's not judge ourselves better than no brother or sister for having fallen into sin, or for his/her past. Rather, following the Word, let us correct the wounded sheep with a spirit of gentleness, guarding ourselves so that we are not tempted, and finally that we realize our condition of sinners too (Gl 6:1). Faithful to the guidelines of Luther and the reformers, we want to recover the privilege of confessing our sins privately and receiving absolution for our guilt.
19 - We believe in the importance of prayer. God longs to listen to his people and to speak to God in prayer is a fundamental practice of faith. Much can be done by the prayer of the just. We are attentive to the three ways in which God answers the prayers of his people as we learn in the Catechism. God is free to say yes, no, or wait. We want to relearn the practice of praying inspired by the words of Scripture and the Catechism, as Luther did and invited us to do.
21 - We recognize that we are pilgrims on this Earth. Although we seek to have a comfortable life, we have no material ambitions to conquer this land, as “our homeland is in heaven, from where we await the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ”. (1 Pt 2:11) We declare that we Christians are subject to disease, physical ills, health problems, and that there is no obligation on God's part to heal us - which in no way alters his character as a loving and caring Father. (Jo 16.33; 1 Tm 5.23)
23 - We believe that the Lutheran Church holds the most faithful confession of faith to biblical teaching, but we do not want to look at other Christian denominations with arrogance or contempt, as they are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and as we will not be divided in heaven.
25 - Our relationship with politics is one of involvement and distance. We must be neither silent nor fanatical, but participate according to each one's vocation and conscience. We understand our call to support multiple instances of leadership, as instituted by God, while we critically judge the people who are occupying them and the decisions they make, especially when they are wrong.
27 - We believe that as Christians we cannot escape our social and evangelistic responsibilities in spreading the Gospel. We believe that the Church of Christ must be concerned with social problems too, as a fruit of faith. We seek, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to care for the sick and broken in heart and to preach the Gospel to the humble. We are not only concerned with people's souls but with the whole human being. We announce forgiveness of sins while trying to help our neighbors with all their needs. (Jas 2:15-16). We hold that in our churches the numbers are never more important than the people. (Lk 22:24-26).
29 - The teaching of Christian freedom is very dear to us (1Co 6:12). We are, at the same time, completely masters and servants over all things. Bearing in mind common sense and love of neighbor, so as not to cause scandal to anyone, we tend to make Christian freedom really free and available. But let this personal freedom be exercised as servants of Christ, with wisdom, moderation and balance (Gal 5:1,2; Co 3:17, Rom 14:22).
30 - We find much comfort in the promise of heaven, and our greatest hope is laid on the resurrection of the flesh and in the life of the world to come.
Cc – Let us encourage one another in the Word of God., especially as we are reminded of the End of times. There is no greater encouragement to face anything that may come our way. Until that last day when, as the teaching Paul encourages us today to keep steadfast on, we will be with Christ. Forever.
 We believe in immersion baptism as well, Luther even preferred it. We do not believe that Baptism works like magic, but that the blessings we receive in it should be cultivated throughout life. To have been baptized one day, but to fall off tracks along life and to live away from faith leaves us in serious danger of condemnation.
We believe that the Kingdom of God is happening in the world where His Word and His Spirit rule people's hearts. It has two different spheres, which must not be separated, but held distinct. God reigns in the realm of creation (secular sphere), where the spaces of family, work, society and culture are regulated through his law, and in the realm of redemption (spiritual sphere), where the church acts proclaiming Christ for All through the Gospel.
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