December 7, 2016
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
Last Wednesday we looked at all the wonderful gifts our heavenly Father gives to us. We confess a loving Father who “certainly gives daily bread to everyone without prayers, even to all evil people.” He knits us together in our mother’s womb, like He did for His Son. He created the means of salvation: water, wheat, grapes.
Jesus, the Son, and the Spirit were, of course, at creation. The Spirit and the Father are involved in the Second Article, too. Mary “conceived by the Holy Spirit,” and Jesus was sent from the Father to redeem us to Him.
But what we have in the Second Article is more than just knowledge we can regurgitate. It’s more than just information, even if that information comes from the holiest of holy sources—the Bible. What we confess in the Second Article is the heart and soul of the Christian message. What Christianity is all about is put to words right here in the Second Article. Without the Second Article there would be no Christianity at all.
The Second Article destroys all other false Christianities that we try and set up. There’s all sorts of ’em out there. Some think Christianity is all about being a good person. Some think it’s all about becoming a better person. Some think it’s all about Jesus giving you health, success, and money in this life. Some think Christianity makes it possible for your dreams to come true. Some even think that Christianity is about people, whose salvation may have been started by Jesus, but now you have to put forward your good effort, do your part. You know, do your best and let God do the rest sort of thinking.
But all of these are false. They may, at times, sound Christian, use Christian words, but they’re completely false. There is no other Christianity besides the one that confesses the Biblical message that’s confessed in the Second Article.
THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE IS SIMPLY THIS: JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED AND RAISED FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS.
((I. JESUS is eternal God.))
Now, why does it matter that this Jesus was crucified and raised? Well, because the JESUS who was carried for nine months in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, the JESUS placed in the manger, the JESUS who hanged dead the cross, the JESUS whose tomb was empty on the third day because He was alive again, the JESUS who lives and reigns now—this JESUS is eternal God.
He wasn’t just God after His ascension. He wasn’t just God from Mary’s Womb to His empty tomb. He was God even before the universe was created. There was a time when it was just Him, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. He is God from forever, eternal God.
Sure, He wasn’t called “JESUS” from eternity, but in Scripture He calls Himself different names: the Word, the Son. And that’s exactly who JESUS claimed to be. It’s why they wanted to kill Him! But He was “foreknown before the foundation of the world,” as Peter says tonight, because He was from before the foundation of the world.
His works proved it. He healed the sick, raised the dead, calmed storms, fed thousands. But He had one final sign, proof, and miracle that proved His claim to be eternal God true: His Resurrection. It’s why God the Father “raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory.” He wouldn’t let His eternal, His forever Son stay dead, and He would of course give His Son glory. That’s the historical fact that proves Jesus is God: His tomb was empty.
((II. JESUS is the adventing God.))
This JESUS is the one WHO WAS CRUCIFIED AND RAISED. To do that, the eternal Son couldn’t just stay off somewhere. He advents. He comes. That’s what Advent is all about. Not only that, this eternal God JESUS comes FOR YOU. That’s what Peter says, “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times FOR YOU.” That’s why He came! FOR YOU. To show you that, from the very beginning, salvation was never about how much you do, how much good you add to the equation. No, it’s all faith in JESUS, JESUS who comes to save you. That’s even what His name means! “He will be called Jesus for He will save His people”—all people—“from their sins.”
He also comes so that you actually believe in God. Peter says, “He was made manifest for you, who through him are believers in God.” Through Jesus you believe in God not only because JESUS is God, but because He reveals, He delivers the Father and the Holy Spirit, too. If you have faith, Jesus did it. That’s what Peter’s saying here. JESUS came so that you can actually grasp God. So that when you close your eyes and think about God, you don’t try and think up some all-powerful, spirit off in heaven somewhere. No, He wants you by faith to look for God in no other place than growing in the womb of the Virgin, lying in the manger, dying on the cross, bounding forth alive from a sealed tomb.
((III. JESUS redeems us.))
Yes, JESUS, the eternal God, came and WAS CRUCIFIED AND RAISED, but why? He does all this FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS. Or, as Peter puts it, He “ransoms you.” Buys you back. Redeems you.
How does He redeem you? Well, “not with perishable things such as silver or gold,” but with His holy, precious blood, and with His innocent suffering and death,” ”like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” He is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” He must shed His blood and die to do it. This proves that there’s no “do your best and maybe God will forgive you.” Listen, it wasn’t just some guy named JESUS who shed His blood. It was God’s blood that was shed because JESUS is Himself God! If God’s blood isn’t enough to save you, if there’s still something left on the balance sheet after that payment, we might as well just pack it in. We’d be doomed.
But it is enough! You truly are redeemed, bought back. The blood of God JESUS says so. Not only that, He baptizes you! He washes you in that redemption. “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” You were born again when the waters of Holy Baptism splashed JESUS’ Word and promises all over you, cleansing you from your sin. There you received the promise, guarantee, and downpayment of salvation, even salvation and eternal life itself! These promises endure, forever: “The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
The Second Article of the Creed is all about the heart and soul of the Christian message. It proclaims the central and foundational truth of Christianity. THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE IS SIMPLY THIS: JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED AND RAISED FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS. That’s it. Nothing else. Nothing else saves you besides JESUS. He’s the Redeemer, the eternal Redeemer, the eternal, forever God. He shed His blood to do it. He washed you in it, cleansed you with it. His promises ring true. His empty tomb proves it. His Word, “the Word of the Lord Endures Forever.”
“This Word is the good news”—the Gospel—“that was [just] preached to you.”
INI + AMEN.