Only God is Good

Biblical Text: Mark 10:17-22
Full Sermon Draft

In my reading one of the biggest shifts from the church fathers to the kids of stuff written and preached today is the concentration on the person of God. The church fathers would preach and write constantly about what we might call metaphysical or philosophical points – like the goodness of God. When you read modern works there is rarely if ever any words on the person or attributes of God. Everything for the modern is about the human experience. When I reflect on that the human experience is quite varied, and we have a giant ability to lie to ourselves. Generalizing from human experience is tough. The church Fathers through some sturdy logic, rhetoric and understanding of the sacred text come to a solid understanding of what God has revealed about himself. And when you have a solid understanding of who God is, both a general application and specific applications to our varied situations are possible.

The text today is a perfect example. The church Fathers all were interested in the goodness of God. In my experience this text, combined with next weeks, are typically turned into stewardship items. The difference I think is between the gospel in the text and the law. The gospel is that God is good, and he invites us to share in that goodness. In no other way can we or anything be good, other that a participation in the divine.

This sermon is in part an invitation to that goodness. It is also an examination about what that goodness means to how Christians then prioritize actions in light of that goodness. It is a pondering of the call of the first commandment.

Worship Note: I moved out hymn of the day to the end of the recording. LSB 753, All For Christ I Have Forsaken, is one of my favorite hymns. It never fails to just kill me. If you do a little research on it and it author Calvin Chao you’ll be torn up more. They’ve set a very Chinese text to the Southern Harmony tune “Restoration”, and it works wonderfully. I usually don’t do this, primarily because it is illegal, but I’m doing it here because this hymn is so good. Most of us will never live a life as dedicated as Calvin Chao, but here are the words of many who heard the invitation clearly.

The 6th and the 1st (Sexual Immorality, Impurity and Greed)

Biblical Text: Ephesians 5:3-20 NLT

Full Sermon Draft

The 6th and the 1st is a reference to the 6th commandment (adultery) and the 1st commandment (no other gods). In the Hebrew scriptures sins in one are directly tied or related to sins in the other. This sermon is a continuation of our reading of Ephesians this summer. In our presentation Paul had three main points. The third of them is that the Christian life is a witness to the Wisdom of God to the powers in the heavenly realms, Satan and the World. In the back half of Paul’s letter he makes concrete examples which are elaborations of the 10 commandments. This week we’ve got the 6th and the 1st. The apostle’s presentation runs smack into the wisdom of our age, which is the lies of Satan and world. Paul doesn’t back away, but says choose. Are we witnesses to the powers that be, or do we prefer their lies? Test me. Listen to it and search the scriptures. Whose story conforms better to our flourishing? What I preach after the Apostle Paul, or the world?

Daily Lectionary Podcast – 1 Samuel 5:1-6:16 and Acts 18:1-11, 23-28

1 Samuel5:1-6:16
Acts 18:1-11, 23-28
The jealousy of God, gods vs. GOD, ministers working together, mutual benefit vs. schism

Fear, Love and Trust…

Text: 2 Kings 9:17-37

In confirmation class last night we were covering the 10 commandments and Sinai in Exodus. The opening question was – what does it mean to have a God? Luther’s explanation in the Small Catechism to the first commandment is that ‘we should fear, love and trust God above all things.’ If you say that having a God is that thing that you fear, love and trust above everything else, it is impossible to not have one. All you can say is that you are following better or worse ‘gods’. The most common ‘god’ is probably our belly. Our appetites drive us from one thing to another. Some might deify their mind. Some might deify the nation-state, ancestors or other family members. All of those things have an element of fear in them. The state holds the sword, family members exert all kinds of psychological influence. In between running from one idol to the next, we stop and think about the loving arms of Jesus. We trust that he will always be there. And there is truth in that. But that view is a very domesticated view of Jesus. Aslan, the Christ figure in Narnia, is a wild lion. The Jesus of Gospels says things like ‘go and sin no more’ and ‘be holy as you Father is holy’.

And then you get to our text. God said through Elijah that Jezebel would be eaten by dogs. Later God through Elisha annoints a new King for Israel. A King who kills the the old one and throws Jezebel, the queen mother, out the window and then sits down for a meal. When they get around to cleaning up the mess – to bury the body – Jezebel has been carried away by dogs.

Luther’s definition of God includes fear. Is the God you serve a nice domesticated lion, or is he wild enough to say things like ‘I am about to spit you out (Rev 3:16)’ or ‘follow me, let the dead bury their own dead (Matt 8:22)’ or ‘You are badly mistaken (Mark 12:27)”?