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Second Sunday in Lent

February 17, 2008

Second Sunday in Lent             Trinity Lutheran Church
17 February 2008                        Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

Romans 4:1-8, 13-17

Well, I put in my forty hours.  Give me what I deserve:  my paycheck.  I studied all night and mastered the information.  Give me what I deserve teacher:  an A+.  I put in all my time lifting, doing sports excel, and attending summer camp.  So give me what I deserve:  a starting position on the team.  Average twenty-two points per game.  I’ve earned a spot on the all conference first team.  Work hard and you get your due.

You get what you deserve!  That’s the way the world operates.  That’s the way God gets things done in the world.  In the world.  “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.”

And so people naturally believe that when it comes to heavenly things like salvation, God gives sinners what they deserve.  What they earn.  What they are worthy of.  “I went to Sunday School!  I got confirmed!  I try not to hurt anyone!  I didn’t commit adultery.  I’m not divorced.  I’ve kept a job.   Look at me God!  I’m certainly not as bad as so and so! I sure have worked hard!  What I’ve done counts before you!  So give me what I deserve!  Heaven!” 

Are you sure about that?  That’s risky business.  I wouldn’t insist on that if I were you.  Your father Abraham never boasted like that before God.  He didn’t become a great nation on his own.   He was a sinner who only relied and believed in the promises of God.

And what a PROMISE God makes.  Listen:  “and to the one who does NOT work, but trusts Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” 

When it comes to heaven and salvation God engages in what the world considers scandalous behavior.  He “justifies the UNgodly!”  God doesn’t justify the godly, the goody goodies, people who’ve got their act together and cleaned up their lives.  No.  He justifies the ungodly!  That was Abraham.  That’s you and me.     

And there’s more.  “And to the one who DOES NOT WORK but only BELIEVES . . . his faith God counts as righteousness.”  Instead of giving sinners what they really deserve:  a one-way ticket to hell with no chance of parole or escape, God forgives.  All of us.  You and me.  A whole world full.  For Jesus’ sake. 

Salvation is gift.  Not what’s owed.  Not earned.  It’s what’s given.  That’s God’s promise.  Promises are to be believed.  Trusted.  God is most satisfied with you when He brings you to believe in His promise of salvation for His Son’s sake.

Blessed are you.  Why? Because the Lord doesn’t give you what you deserve.  He gave Jesus what your sin earned.   Death and damnation.  That’s Good Friday.  And now your sins are forgiven.  Your sins are covered.  The Lord doesn’t count your sins against you.  For Jesus sake. 

And with the Gospel there’s always more.  Through the water and the Spirit you are born again.  You’re a new creation in Christ through Holy Baptism.  Christ’s reign of forgiveness is yours.  He Lord’s His death for your salvation over you. 

So, blessed are you.  Really.  You truly are blessed.  That’s God’s promise. 

That’s the way it was with Abraham.  So it is with you.  Faith in the Lord’s promise of forgiveness it what really counts before God.  And for Christ’s sake heaven is yours.  “And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”  “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” 

Happy believing.     

In the Name of Jesus. 

From → "A" Sermons

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