May 21, 2017

Pastor Bernt P. Tweit

The First Lesson; Acts 17:22-31

Gospel Lesson; John 14:15-21

Sermon Text; 1 Peter 3:15-22

The Word of God we focus on for today is taken from 1 Peter, chapter 3, beginning at verse 15.

But regard the Lord, the Christ, as holy in your hearts. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that is in you. But speak with gentleness and respect, while maintaining a clear conscience, so that those who attack your good way of life in Christ may be put to shame because they slandered you as evildoers. Indeed, it is better, if it is God's Will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil, because Christ also suffered once for sins in our place, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in flesh but was made alive in spirit, in which He also went and made an announcement to the spirits in prison. These spirits disobeyed long ago, when God's patience was waiting in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In this ark a few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water. And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you – not the removal of dirt from the body but the guarantee of a good conscience before God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ He went to Heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to Him.

This is God's Word.

Alright, I am going to begin today by telling you about what I am NOT going to be preaching about.

       -I am not going to be talking about Jesus' descending into Hell.

       -I am not going to talk about Jesus ascending into Heaven.

       -And, I am not going to talk about Jesus sitting at the right hand of God the Father, Almighty.

All of those things were things we confessed just a moment ago in The Creed. All of those things are talked about, and mentioned in our text for today. But, it is not the direction I am going.

Here are the things I am going to talk about.

       -I am going to talk about baptism, your baptism.

       -I am going to talk about Jesus' suffering, and dying to pay for our sin.

       -And then, I am going to close today by talking about your way of life, in Christ.

In doing things in that order, I am really looking at our text backwards. I am starting at the end, and I am working my way to the beginning. In order to understand what we are talking about today, I want to make sure we understand what the word 'consecrate' means. The word 'consecrate' means, 'to regard as holy, and set apart'. Consider these portions of scripture in which God talks about a 'consecration' taking place.

       -Right after God created the world, in six, 24 hour days, this is what God said about the seventh day. Scripture tells us,

“God blessed the seventh day, and made it holy.” He consecrated' it.

       -On the day before the Children of Israel were to enter into the Promised Land (they were going to be crossing over The Jordan River), Joshua went and told the people, “'Consecrate' yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things.” The very next day, God stopped the flow of water in The Jordan River, and the Children of Israel walked across on dry ground.

       -In the book of Jeremiah, this is what the LORD told Jeremiah. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I 'set you apart' (there is that word 'consecrate'). I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah was 'consecrated' to be a prophet to the nations.

Now, I can insert this here. Miss Dachshund and Mrs. Marozick. You were 'set apart'. You were regarded as holy. And, I can use the present tense, 'are'. You were 'set apart' to teach the little lambs, and youth, here at Holy Cross. You were 'set apart', and you were called to do that.

       -Just this last week, Pastor Bartels preached on this, from the chapter right before our text, 1 Peter, 2. “You are a chosen people. You were 'set apart', regarded holy, because you are a chosen people. You are a holy nation.”
       -Our text for today tells us you were regarded as holy. You were 'set apart'. You were 'consecrated' in your baptism. Baptism is applying water, taking God's Word, and connecting it to you, as a person. This is what scripture says about our baptisms. “Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.”

In your baptism you were 'set apart'. You were regarded as holy, as you were 'consecrated'.

Our text for today gives us a beautiful example of baptism, when it goes back, and talks about Noah, and the ark. This is what God's Word says about Noah, as he was 'set apart', as he was 'consecrated'. “Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time. He walked with God.”
Now, Noah wasn't saved, because of who he was, or what he had done. Noah was a sinner. Scripture tells us that as Noah drank from the fruits of his own vineyard, he became drunk. But, why was it Noah was saved, or how was it that Noah was saved? Scripture tells us, “By faith, Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, (talking about the upcoming flood) in holy fear, built an ark to save his family. By his faith, he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”
And so, here we have the example of Noah, as he was saved, because of God's grace, and mercy in his life. Noah, being saved in the ark, and being saved by water, now becomes a picture of your being saved by baptism. In your baptism you were 'consecrated'. You were regarded as holy, and you were 'set apart'.

       -Our scripture for today in the middle portion talks about how Jesus was 'consecrated', how He was 'set apart', and regarded as holy, so that He could save us from our sins. This is verse 18, from our text for today. Verse 18 shares the four things Jesus did, as He was 'consecrated' for us. It says,

“Jesus suffered,

and died for our sins.”

That just means Jesus suffered, and died to pay for evil. He suffered, and died to pay for our guilt, for our problems, and for our sin.

How many times did Jesus do that? He did it once.

In The Old Testament, as people brought sacrifices to pay for sin, the priest would offer those sacrifices on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, on a monthly basis, and on an annual basis.

When Jesus made payment for our sin, He did it once. This is what scripture says about Jesus, and His once, and for all sacrifice, and what it means for you, and for me.

“We have been made holy”.

(There is that word 'consecrate', again,)

'Set apart' through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ,

once for all.”

Jesus' suffering, and His death is now a gift that is given to you, and me. It is from the righteous One for those who are unrighteous.

The story is told of a man in Korea, in the 4th Century, AD, who had two sons. One lived an upright life, and one did not. The upright son became Chief Justice in all of the land. The son who was not so good, became a scoundrel, and a very terrible criminal.

The son who was not very good, was caught for doing something that he should not have done. He actually deserved the death penalty for it. Wouldn't you know, he went to go stand before his brother, the judge.

Everybody in the courtroom thought he would get off, because his brother was preceding as the judge. However, his brother laid down the death sentence. That scoundrel of a brother was going to get what he deserved, because of what he had done.

On the day in which the scoundrel was supposed to die, his upright brother (the judge) came to him, and said, “Let's trade places”.

So, off the righteous brother went to be put to death.

The scoundrel of the brother thought the proceedings would stop, when people recognized who it was that was being put to death, however, that did not happen.

After the righteous brother was killed, the unrighteous brother was filled with so much remorse that he went to the guards, and said, “It was me that should have been put to death. I am the scoundrel. I should have been put to death.”

The guards said, “There is no sentence outstanding for anyone with that name, because that sentence has been paid for.”

That is what Jesus has done for you, and for me. Jesus, the righteous One, laid down His life for us who are unrighteous. He did that to bring you, and me, to God.

He did that to save us.

Jesus was 'consecrated'. He was 'set apart'. He was holy. He was regarded as holy to save us from our sin.

So, how does that connect with the last part of our sermon, (which is actually the first part of our text for today)? In your baptism you were 'consecrated'. You were 'set apart', and regarded as holy. Jesus, through His suffering and His death, once and for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God, was 'consecrated', and 'set apart' to save us.

Which now comes to us, and our way of life – to 'consecrate' and set ourselves apart, to be regarded as holy, in the way we live our lives and speak our words.

I am going to share a little bit of humor here. There was once a seven year old boy, who was standing in the Narthex of his church. He was looking at a plaque on the wall. The plaque listed the names of men and women who were in the military, and died in their service for their country.

That little, seven year boy was looking at that plaque, when the pastor walked through the Narthex. The pastor said, “Hi” to the little boy.

Since the little boy continued to look at that plaque on the wall, the pastor asked him, “Why are you looking at the plaque?”

The pastor then told him the names listed were of those who had died in service.

The little boy asked, “Was it the 8:15 service, or the 10:30 service?”

The pastor had to be quick to respond. He had to be prepared to give an answer to that child. “Those people didn't die in the 8:15 service. Those people didn't die in the 10:30 service. Those people died in service to our country.” That pastor was prepared, and ready to answer the boy's question.

That is what our text for today is telling us to do, encouraging us to do. We have been 'consecrated', and 'set apart', regarded as holy in our baptism. It is because of what Christ our Savior has done for us. He was 'consecrated', and 'set apart', and regarded as holy to save us from our sin.

Our text for today encourages us,

“Always be prepared to give an answer

to everyone who asks you to give a reason

for the hope that is in you.”

That now means being 'consecrated', and 'set apart', as God's people, with our lives, with our words, and with our actions. We want to live for Him.

Take my life and let it be,

'Consecrated' Lord to Thee.

Take my moments, and my days,

Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my love, my Lord I pour,

At Thy feet, its treasure store.

Take myself, and I will be,

Ever, only, all for Thee.