New Year’s Eve/Day (Gal 3, 23–29)

Photo by Joshua Eckstein on Unsplash

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

Before faith came we were locked up under the Law, being imprisoned so that the coming faith would be revealed. Therefore the Law became our trainer leading to Christ, in order that we would be justified by faith. Now, after faith came, we are no longer under a trainer. For we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you that were baptized into Christ were clothed with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to a promise.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

INI + AMEN.

Well, we’ve made it. New Year. What a doozy it was! Hard year. One that we’d rather have in the rear view mirror. So much bad news last year, you couldn’t keep it all straight. In fact, we lost track of most of it. (Don’t worry. I won’t list it all off.)

What’s the New Year going to hold? Will it be good or bad? Will it be easy or difficult? Usually, this time of year is full of expectation for the next, but if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the future isn’t certain at all. Think about what your expectations were 12 months ago! What hopes did you have for 2020? Did they happen? Maybe a little, but certainly not anything like you wanted or hoped back on New Year’s 2019.

But I’ve got some news for you. 2021’s going to be no different for you. What was true for you in 2020 will be true for you in 2021. I know what you’re thinking. “Boy, thanks, pastor! ‘Best news ever’”

But it is the best news ever! That’s actually the good news of Jesus! That’s the Gospel! Because I’m not talking about worldly things being the same. I’m not trying to paint a better or worse picture for your 2021. I’m talking about the eternal unchanging promise of God in His Son, Jesus Christ.

And that promise isn’t a long ago promise. It’s not some sort of far away promise either—off in the distant future. You’re so far removed from both of those sorts of promises, I mean, are they even really true at that point? True for you?

Oh, yes, they are. The Lord did make promises long ago. “In many and various ways God spoke to His people of old by the Prophets.” He does make future promises, too. “The days are coming, declares the LORD.” But the Lord also makes enduring, life-long, and even eternal promises right to you. Right here. Right now. For you.

Now, this is the promise that was true for you all last year, this is the promise that will be true for you all next year, this is the promise that’s true for you forever:

YOU’RE BAPTIZED INTO CHIRST.

I. Apart from Jesus you’re not saved.

Apart from Christ Jesus you’re trapped, imprisoned. Worst part is, apart from the Spirit revealing it to you, you wouldn’t even know it. Enslaved to your deep seated sinful desires and yet driven by the Law and its legal demands. Apart from Christ our relationship with God and others is “accused or excused” based on what we do or don’t do, how much good we do to make up for our bad, how well we hold to our resolutions for self-improvement. Well, really, self-aggrandizement.

God’s Law was never meant to give life. “For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would really [ὄντως] be by the law.” (Gal 3:21) In fact, “if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no reason at all [δωρεάν].” (Gal 2:21) The Law is God’s spiritual trainer. No breaks. No warm ups. No cool downs. Never relenting. “Do this.” “Don’t do that.” “Do this.” “Don’t do that.” “Do this.” “Don’t do that.”

And the Law never does should. Like how we deal with our goals and resolutions: “I should exercise more. I should eat healthier.” God never says “should” in His Law. God says “shall” only “shall.” “You shall.” “You shall not.” Check out a sermon from a few weeks ago on the “you-ness” of the Law. But God says “shall”, “shall not,” under pain of death. “The wages of sin is death.”

No gray area with the LORD. No “ifs.” No “buts.” No qualifications. No provisos. No line item vetos. “Do” or “do not.” God doesn’t even say, “Try.” He simply says “do.” Pick any commandment. That’s what He says to you. Behaving like you do will kill you. Sinning is dangerous business. Comes from not trusting Jesus above all things. You wouldn’t be angry, worried, steal, tear others down, and want all sort of other things, if you actually believed Jesus has your back.

II. Baptized into Christ, you are saved!

But that’s not you, is it? How could it be? YOU’RE BAPTIZED INTO CHIRST! You’re free from all. No longer a prisoner to that rat race, but a child of God! That’s what Baptism does for you because it gives you all that Christ Jesus did for you.

“In the fulness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law to redeem those who are under the Law, so that we would receive sonship.” (Gal 4:4–5) “Under the Law”: that’s you and me left to our own devices. But not in Christ. He was born of Mary, fulfilled all the Law. His circumcision proves that. Blood shed for you. He fulfilled the Law for you, to save you, redeem you. His Name proves that. “Jesus” “He will save His people from their sins.”

You’re saved because Jesus did all that for you. You’re saved because you’re baptized. Faith clings to Jesus and His faithfulness in your place. He cherished the Law, did it for you, and gives you His righteousness, “so that we would be justified by faith.” “Faith clings to Jesus Christ alone, And rests in Him unceasing.” Faith clings to His death and resurrection. Faith also clings to the promises of Baptism because of what Jesus says it does in Matthew 28, Mark 16, and what He said through His Apostles that He inspired by sending them the Holy Spirit: 1 Peter 3, Acts 2, Romans 6, Titus 3, and here in Galatians 3.

III. Being baptized means you’re a clothed and eternal heir.

YOU’RE BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST, and that means you’re clothed with Him. His righteousness is yours, and that’s true no matter what happens to you. You can lose everything in this life, but you can’t lose your Jesus, or rather, Jesus won’t ever, ever lose you. “No one can snatch [My sheep] out of my hand,” Jesus promises in John 10. But how can He lose you if He’s wrapped around you? How can you lose Him if you’re wrapped up with Him? YOU’RE BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST, and that means you’re clothed with Him.

And with that comes the promise of eternal life. YOU’RE BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST, and that means you’re an heir of eternal life, “an heir according to promise.” Nothing can change that either. It doesn’t matter how good things go for you, or what bad things happen to you. It doesn’t matter if 2021 is like 2020 or like 1920. It doesn’t matter if next year or any year is worse than last year. It doesn’t matter on our ancestry or our nationality or whether we’re rich or poor, boss or worker, slave or free. YOU’RE BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST. Full stop. No matter what. Alive or dead. Sick or healthy. Right or wrong. YOU’RE BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST.

Conclusion.

Apart from Jesus alone you’re not saved. You’re just stuck fixing your behavior each year, each day better. You. Not them. You. Or stuck at least making up for it. Talk about a bad life-time, not to mention a bad year.

That’s how it is for you apart from Jesus. But you’re not apart from Jesus. How could you be? YOU’RE BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST! How it goes with Him, it goes with you. Rejoice in His gift! What a gift to be happy about this [[6th/7th Day of Christmas.]]

Faith clings to Jesus alone. Faith clings to what Jesus did for you on Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter! Born, died, risen for you. Faith clings to what Holy Baptism does for you. Because Holy Baptism does what Jesus says it does, and what Jesus said through His Apostles that He inspired by sending them the Holy Spirit.

“Make disciples of all nations by baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” “Be baptized everyone of you for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” “Baptism now saves you.” “As many of as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death.” God the Father “saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” “As many of you that were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.”

So, yeah. What was true for you in 2020 will be true for you in 2021. In fact, it’s true for you forever, no matter what. YOU’RE BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST!

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

INI + AMEN.

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