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Reformation Day (observed) 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
October 28, 2018
Revelation 14:6-7, Romans 3:19-28, Matthew 11:12-19

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org  
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

Let’s play a quick game of naming opposites.

Light               Dark.

All                   None

Down              Up

Clean               Dirty

Empty                         Full

Love                Hate

The thing with opposites is that they cannot both occupy the same space at the same time.  You cannot have both “all” and “none” in the same place.  You cannot have both “love” and “hate”.  You cannot be both “empty” and “full”.  So, what about “faith”?  What is the opposite of faith?

Today we observe Reformation Day which falls each year on October 31.  On that day in 1517 Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.  Those of you who have been on the Germany trip have stood outside that church looking at those doors pondering the great effect posting the 95 theses has had on the world; spiritually and politically.  Luther emphasized three great Solas.  Sola Gratia, Sola Fides, Sola Scriptura.  Grace alone.  Faith alone.  Scripture alone.  Our Epistle Lesson today from Romans addresses the middle Sola; faith alone.

Romans 3:27-28 (ESV) 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.[1]

What is the opposite of faith?  It seems from this reading that an obvious opposite of faith is works.  Faith trusts in what Jesus has done, works puts its trust in what you do.

But there is another opposite of faith in these verses.  That opposite is boasting.  Boasting looks in the wrong direction and focuses on the wrong thing.  Your boasting has you looking away from God and instead looking to yourself.  Looking to your own intelligence; your own goodness; your own perseverance, and boasting has you telling others how good you are compared to how bad those others are.

It is quite easy to fall into the mindset of thinking you are better, smarter, and holier than others.  I know I have.  Far too many times I have fallen prey to the temptation of boasting.  The temptation to boasting is particularly acute for Lutherans on Reformation Day.  It is easy to start to think we are just so much smarter; so much purer, so much holier, so much better, than those in the Roman Catholic Church and other churches.

Now, I am very glad Martin Luther rediscovered the truth of the Gospel and I am very glad to be a Lutheran.  But I am no better than anyone else.  I remain, by nature, sinful and unclean.  You are no better than anyone else.  You remain, by nature, sinful and unclean.

In the truth rediscovered by Martin Luther there is no place for boasting about yourself and yet there is a great desire in all of us to boast.  There is a terrible tendency to look at others and what they do and judge yourself to be better, smarter, holier than that other person.  The devil loves to have you look down on others and boast about yourself.  Think for a moment.  Who is that person; those people, in your life; in your family, at school, at work, at church that you think you are better than them?  Who is it that you have found yourself looking down upon and puffing yourself up.  Who have you talked badly about or to?  It is awfully attractive to believe you are better than that other person.  Too often you find yourself in the position of the Pharisee in Luke 18

Luke 18:10-14 (ESV) 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” [2]

The Pharisee talks to God all about all the good things that the Pharisee is doing and how he is better than the tax collector.  The tax collector pleads for mercy.

The boasting one talks and talks and talks, all about herself and how good she is and how smart she is and how holy she is.  With boasting there is no room for faith.

So, what is the cure?  What is the antidote?  What medicine can the boasting one take to drive out his boasting and make room for faith?  The remedy for boasting is the law of God.  The law of God stops the boasting.

Romans 3:19 (ESV) 19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.[3]

The boasting one talks about himself.  The law stops his boasting.  Hearing the law of God applied to your life shows you your sin and takes away any grounds for boasting.

So, what is the cure?  What is the antidote?  What medicine can the boasting one take to drive out his boasting and make room for faith?  The remedy for boasting is the law of God.  The law of God stops the boasting.

Romans 3:20 (ESV) 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. [4]  Romans 3:22-23 (ESV)
22 … For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,[5]

Boasting looks in the wrong direction and looks to the wrong things.  Boasting talks.  The law silences the boasting.

Through the law comes knowledge of sin.  The law shows you that you are a sinner who needs a savior.  The law shows you your need for the gift of the righteousness of God.  The law cannot save you.  The law points you away from yourself and points you to Jesus.  The law leaves you silent letting another speak for you.  Mark 15:34 (ESV) 34 … “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”[6]

John 19:30 (ESV) 30 … “It is finished,” … [7]

Mark 2:9 (ESV) 9 … ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ …[8]

Faith does not look at itself.  Faith looks in the right direction and looks at the right thing.  Faith looks to Jesus, the Christ, suffering and dying and rising for you.  Faith looks to the blood of Jesus as the propitiation; the appeasement of God.  Faith looks to the resurrected Jesus as evidence that the payment is enough; all your sins are forgiven; death is conquered forever; you have eternal life in Christ.  Faith looks to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Faith looks to Jesus as the one who justifies.  Faith looks to the only thing that can save.  Faith looks to the blood of Jesus; to the cross of Christ; to the empty tomb.  Faith alone.

The cross silences self-righteous boasting because in faith there is no boasting except in the cross of Christ.  On that cross outside Jerusalem 2,000 years ago you find forgiveness, life and salvation.  From the cross is poured out for you mercy and grace delivered to you in the Word of God, in baptism, and in the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion.  In the cross and the empty tomb you find the source and object of your faith.  Jesus for you.  Grace alone.  Faith alone.  Scripture alone.

Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[5]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[6]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[7]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[8]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

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