July 02, 2017

Rev. Bernt P. Tweit

Old Testament Lesson; Exodus 19:2 - 8a

Gospel Lesson; Matthew 9:35 - 10:8

Sermon Text; Romans 5:6 - 11

The Word of God we focus on for today, is taken from Romans, chapter five, verses six through eleven. This is in Jesus' name.

For at the appointed time, while we were still helpless, Christ died for the ungodly. It is rare indeed that someone will die for a righteous person. Perhaps someone might actually go so far as to die for a person who has been good to him. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, it is even more certain that we will be saved from God's wrath through Him. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, it is even more certain that, since we have been reconciled, we will be saved by His life. And not only is this so, but we also go on rejoicing confidently in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received this reconciliation.

This is God's Word.

You see from our scripture text, the word 'reconciliation' plays a prominent theme in God's Word. I am going to use a few examples throughout the course of my message with you on examples of 'reconciliation'.

In the 1800's, there were two prominent women who were married to two prominent men. Their names were Julia Grant and Varnia Davis. Julia Grant was married to Ulysses S. Grant. Varnia Davis was married to Jefferson Davis.

Consider their similarities to begin with. Both were born in 1826. Both were born in the south, one in Mississippi and the other in Missouri. Both were born in slave owning families. But from there we start to see the differences that took place in their lives, as Julia Grant was supportive of her husband as he became the lead general of the North, during the Civil War, and as Varnia Davis became wife of the one and only president of the Confederate South, Jefferson Davis.

Well, Julia Grant was faithful to her husband as he was general of the North, and as he was president of the United States from 1869 until 1877. And, Varnia Davis was faithful to her husband, even when the Civil War was over and as he was in jail, as he was pardoned and as they were in partial exile in Europe, and finally as he retired in the South.

Ulysses S. Grant died in 1885. Jefferson Davis died in 1889. Four years after that, in 1893, it just so happened that those two ladies who had never met each other before, crossed paths. Here is a newspaper article that talked about these two women, these two prominent women who had so many differences in life, and what it said about their coming together.

They met on a June day in 1893 at Cranston's, on the Hudson River, in New York. Varnia Davis had arrived to watch a Cadet Parade at West Point. Julia Grant had been staying there, for some time. When she heard Mrs. Jefferson Davis was a fellow guest, she went to Varnia's room to welcome her. “I am Mrs. Grant”, Julia announced, as Varnia Davis opened the door.

“I am very glad to meet you”, Varnia responded. “Come in.”

Well, after dinner they sat together. And, the other guests watched this curious scene with interest. When Varnia went to bed, Julia remarked, “She is a very noble lady. I have wanted to meet her for a very long time.”

Well after that, the reporters were just excited. They went to Julia Grant with more questions, and Julia said, “I hope we can become very good friends”.

Well, four months before Julia Grant passed away, there was another newspaper article that said this, connecting these two, very prominent women together. This is what it said in 1902.

The widows of two men, who opposed each other during the Civil War, and made American history, are now staying at a little, Canadian village called Coburg. (Now, just a little aside. Coburg is on the north side of Lake Ontario. It is in Canada and it is just east of Toronto.)

The article goes on to say, They have humble cottages on adjoining lots, and they see each other every day. The Grant and Davis cottages standing side by side is one of the interesting sights of the village.

And so here are these prominent women from opposite sides of the Civil War, who became very good friends with each other. But, this is what they recognized. Not only was it a very good personal relationship for them, but it was also good for healing, and reconciling of a nation. The carnage that had taken place during the course of the Civil War, with the split of our country, north verses south, south verses north. Now, the two sides of our country were coming together, because they saw two, very prominent women living side by side, and very good friends with each other, seeing each other every day.

That is really what our text for today is talking about. It is talking about a 'reconciliation' that has taken place. In order for two things, or two groups of people to be brought into a right relationship with each other, it means there is a problem to begin with. Our text for today shares with us three words that are not very easy for us to hear, by nature. These are those three words.


helpless, and


It's hard for us to hear those three words put together in one sentence, and yet, it gets to the heart of the matter, the problem we have, in that we are enemies of God. 'We' are 'helpless'. When a person is 'helpless', it means they need help.

Maybe the word that is the most uncomfortable to hear of these three is the word 'ungodly'. And yet, God's Word in its whole tells us 'we' are 'ungodly' in the thoughts 'we' think. 'We' are 'ungodly' in the words 'we' speak. And, we are 'ungodly' in the way 'we' live our lives.

Who would be willing, because of who we are, to bring us back into a right relationship with God? Our text for today gives us an example of this. It says, it probably isn't very likely that somebody is going to give their life for another person. It could possibly happen, perhaps, but don't plan on it. Maybe you might think in terms of the military, where somebody is willing to throw themselves on a live grenade in order to save his comrades. Let me ask you today, “Would you be willing to put your life on the line for another person?”

The answer is probably not, unless that person is very close to you. Maybe you would be willing to do that for your mom, or your dad. Maybe you would be willing to do that for your son, or your daughter. But, “Would you do that for somebody who is estranged from the family? Would you do that for somebody who is an enemy of yours?”

The answer is probably not. And yet, our text for today tells us of how God brought us back into a right relationship with Him. 'We', who are 'ungodly', 'we' who are 'helpless'. He did it this way.

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this:

While we were still sinners,

Christ died for us.”

For, as uncomfortable as it was to hear those words 'we', 'helpless', and 'ungodly' in one sentence, how comforting to hear that plural pronoun 'us', twice in this one sentence!

“God demonstrates His own love for US in this:

While we were still sinners,

Christ died for US.”

During the course of this past week, as I was working on this sermon, there was a phrase I came across more than once. I had never heard it before, but maybe you have heard this phrase before. It is one that is attributed to God, speaking. The phrase is:

“I loved you at your darkest.”

I have never heard that before, but maybe you have.

“I loved you at your darkest.”

But, it really is a spin off of the verse I just mentioned. While 'we' were 'helpless', while 'we' were 'ungodly', while 'we' were at the darkest moment of our lives, because of our sin, God loved you at your darkest. He demonstrated that, and He showed it, through His Son, Jesus.

Currently, there is a group that is going through our New Member Class. In that class there is a 'True/False Question' that asks: “Does God show His love best in the way He answers our prayers?” The answer to that question is “False”.

God shows His love best for us

in sending His Son to be our Savior.

Now, for a big chunk of our text it really hones in, and narrows in. Because of Jesus 'reconciling' us to God, it brings out these two points.

       -We are 'reconciled' to God by Jesus' death.

       -And now, we are saved, and we have eternal life in Heaven, because of Jesus' life.

We are 'reconciled' to God through Jesus.

Even the current events helped me with my message today. Last week, here in Madison, the American Family Golf Classic was taking place. Brett Favre was a participant there. I don't know how exactly they got on this topic, but it came out that he would be willing to be a coach on the sidelines for the Green Bay Packers, some day. Or, he would be willing to be in the front office for the Green Bay Packers, after his daughter graduates from college. (You maybe saw that in the news.)

Here are two paragraphs from the article that talks about it.

“Brett Favre played sixteen seasons for the Green Bay Packers, winning three NFL MVP awards, and leading the 1996 team to the Super Bowl 31 title, before his acrimonious departure, via a trade to the New York Jets in August of 2008.

“He went on to play two seasons with the rival Minnesota Vikings, but has since reconciled with the Packers, having entered the teams Hall of Fame, two years ago, before getting his gold jacket, in Canton Ohio, last summer. Favre said now he, and the team, have reconnected. He could see himself working in the Packer's front office, or as a coach in Green Bay.”

A 'reconciliation' took place between the North and the South, because of two women – Julia Grant and Varnia Davis. Our nation has been brought back into a right relationship, partially through them.

The Green Bay Packers, and Brett Favre, were at odds with each other. There was a bitter, and angry divide between the two of them. But, a 'reconciliation' has taken place through time.

Dear friends in Christ, a 'reconciliation' has taken place between you, between us, and God. 'We' were 'helpless'. 'We' were 'ungodly'. We were dark because of our sin, and our relationship with God. But, we have been 'reconciled' to God. We have been brought back into a right relationship through the life, and through the death of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

So, what now is our response to what God has done for us, in Christ Jesus, our Lord? Our text for today tells us, as it closes, by saying this.

Let us “also go on rejoicing confidently in God

through our Lord Jesus Christ

by whom we have now received this reconciliation.”

I don't know the situations you are going through in life. Things may be going great, or things may be troubling. There may be trials in your life. But, regardless of what is happening in our life, we can always go back to God's Word, and find the comfort we have in God bringing us back into a right relationship with Him. After all,

“God demonstrates His own love for us in this:

While we were still sinners,

Christ died for us.”