Sermons

Ash Wednesday (2 Pt 1:2–11)

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

“[Jesus’] divine power has gifted us everything for life and godliness.”

INI + AMEN.

Everything gifted? Yes, everything. All means all. Everything means everything. Nothing left out. All gift. Everything’s gift. Everything for life. Everything for godliness. Jesus gives. We receive. “Faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, love.” All these are a gift from the Lord. He gifts everything for life and godliness.

This doesn’t quite jive with our views of Lent and repentance and even absolution. We turn Lent into our time to shine. “Fasting…is certainly fine outward training.” Our flesh shouldn’t be in control. Like Paul said a few weeks ago, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” We turn our repentance into the credit that earns the absolution.

We live day to day fulfilling our own desires. We aren’t disciplined. Well, we have worldly discipline. We go to work, do our chores, do our homework. But that’s not what Jesus supplies or gifts to us. Or we’ll use our godliness as a way of comparing ourselves to others.

In the face of all this, in the face of our desires, our selfishness, our puffing ourselves up, our doing of Lent, Peter says, “That’s not how any of this works.” Peter says, “[Jesus’] divine power has gifted us everything for life and godliness.” If you have life and godliness, then it’s a gift you received from Jesus. If you don’t, you’ve rejected the gift.

This is Lent and your Christian life, too:

JESUS GIFTS US EVERYTHING FOR LIFE AND GODLINESS.

((I. We don’t live that way.))

Jesus gifts everything, but we don’t live that way. We reject His work for our own. We live as if the Lord starts us off, but then we need to drum up our own virtue or endurance or godliness or love. It’s why many Christians don’t actually see any real value in Jesus’ Gifts. To them, Jesus’ Preaching, His Absolution, His Body and Blood, are only important in some abstract sense. Like a right answer on a test, but you don’t really need those to be a Christian. They believe that being a Christian is really about what they’re doing for Jesus rather than what Jesus is doing for and through them. I’m sure they’d disagree, but then just look at how their actions confess their faith.

Or we live by rejecting the Lord’s Work for our lack of work, for laziness. We take the confession that Jesus does it all, but then avoid Jesus. “I don’t need to do anything.” There’s no “making every effort to supply virtue on top of your faith” or “knowledge on top of virtue” or “self-control on top of knowledge” or on down the line. We go, “Doing doesn’t matter, so I won’t. In fact, I can’t do that stuff, so what’s the point?” We make our laziness holy. Here again, Jesus’ Absolution or His Body and Blood or even making time to go to Bible Class or Sunday School, are avoided. Our actions confess that Jesus working for you and through you with His Word and Absolution and Body and Blood are not really that important.

((Transition.))

Our priorities confess what we say we believe. Sadly, it’s as if Jesus Christ is only somewhat necessary for Christianity. We go on running our daily lives, but we’re really running out in our daily lives. We survive, but we don’t live and love.

What we don’t and can’t do, Jesus gives. Everything. Everything gift—for life and for godliness. That’s Lent. That’s your Christian life, too. JESUS GIFTS US EVERYTHING FOR LIFE AND GODLINESS.

((II. But it’s the only way to live.))

That’s the only way to really live. Only where Jesus gives everything is there life and even godliness. He is “your God, your Lord, your Savior”—your everything who gives everything. He died for your sins and rose to new and eternal life. “He’s called us” and “gifted us great and precious promises.” Promises of repentance and new life. Promises of forgiveness, new life, and eternal salvation. Promises to live in you, to make you more fruitful. He gifts it all!

There’s always more to receive, to rejoice in: “virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love.” “Make every effort to supply” these, to pile them on top of your trusting Jesus. But how can you do that? You can’t. But Jesus does. That’s His promise. “His divine power has gifted us everything for life and godliness.” He gives you the Spirit. In fact, all the things Peter lists off are fruit of the Spirit. That means the Spirit must give them to you, and He does, right where He promises.

The Spirit works through the “great and precious promises.” In those promises there’s a lifetime of self-discipline worked by the Spirit. He gifts repentance and faith. He gifts new life. He gifts “patience.” He supplies the “strength” needed “to serve.” He delivers faith, the knowledge of Jesus. So “strive to make your calling and election sure.” Why? Because “it is God who’s at work within you.” If you reject the striving, the discipline, you’re not just being disobedient. That’s childish thinking! You’re really rejecting the Spirit. You’re really rejecting Jesus. You’re rejecting “God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

But still He gives. He always gives. In spite of our excuses and failures and sins and going our own way, He still preserves His Word and Gifts for us. He keeps them around for us to receive them. That way He can work on us, in us, and through us to fully selflessly love others and in that way really live. He gifts it all to us in the Gifts! In the Absolution, in the Word preached, read, studied, devotion-ed, in the Body and Blood, Jesus gifts everything. Everything of Himself. Everything of the Spirit. Well, JESUS GIFTS US EVERYTHING FOR LIFE AND GODLINESS, after all.

((Conclusion.))

“[Jesus’] divine power has gifted us everything for life and godliness.”

Everything? Yes, everything. All means all. Everything means everything. And He does it “through the great and precious promises.” There He gifts all that we need. We make every effort to not reject the gift, to reject Him, to reject His working on you, in you, and through you. You can go that way. He’ll let you. Many Christians do. Go off with your own works instead of His. But that’s not godly.

Fast from that. Your desires, your works, your laziness. They aren’t you, in Jesus. But “fasting” is only “fine outward training.” A good gift to keep your flesh in check. (It should be in check.) But Jesus gives that sort true “godliness and life” to you. That’s Lent. That’s the Christian life. That’s His Absolution. That’s His body and blood. That’s Jesus. More Him. More Gifts. More Spirit. More real life, real love not just survival. He gifts everything now and forever.

“[Jesus’] divine power has gifted us everything for life and godliness.” And in this way God “abundantly supplies an entrance for you into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

INI + AMEN.

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