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The Office of the Keys — The Better Words of Jesus!

June 29, 2014


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St. Peter & St. Paul, Apostles                                Trinity Lutheran Church

29 June 2014                                                             Murdock, NE


+ Jesu Juva +


Matthew 16:13-19


Jesus gets right to the point.  No beating around the bush on this St. Peter & St. Paul day.  Listen.  “Peter confessed what my Father revealed at my Baptism in the Jordan and my public ministry, namely, that I am the Christ the Son of the living God. Absolutely true!  Bang on Peter!  On the rock of his faithful confession given to him by my Father I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH.”  Jesus clears His throat and adds:  “Since I’m the one doing the ‘build-the-church’ verb not even all the ferocious, dark, Desolation of Smaug powers of hell will be able to overcome the church’s rock-solid foundation.”


Why all the panic?  Anxiety?  Worry?  Alarm?  Fear? Despair?


Didn’t you hear what Jesus said?  It’s so obvious that you miss it as you frantically fret.  You, together with all the big shot church authorities and eye-candy church leadership experts hysterically search for the perfect church growth program.  After all, these construct-the-church-connoisseurs endlessly bemoan that the church at large and you’re congregation will die unless you buy whole hog into their “mission vision.”  You gobble up everything they say.  Hook, line and sinker.  You’re desperate.  You hire only the top shelf, exclusive, smooth talking, high-priced consultants.  You feverishly attend endless conferences.  You recklessly drain your bank accounts to become purpose driven, seeker driven and transformational.  Frenzied mission this.  Panic-stricken mission that.  24-7-365 dread.  Why?


Here’s why.  Regarding the “b” verb you ignore what Jesus says.  Trust that He will do what He promises?  Fat chance!  So you take the “b” verb into your own hands.  To manage and control.  You become the “savior” master builder of the church and your congregation.  “YOU WILL BUILD THE CHURCH!” is your mantra. As I’ve been saying a lot lately, you think that you have better words than Jesus.


You need to repent of that.  You’d better hear Jesus again and live in and from His guarantee.  “I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH.”


Simple.  Clear.  Straightforward.  A wonderful Christ-the-Son-of-the-living-God-promise.  The church is His.  He died for her.  His Good Friday wounds are still showing.  He promises to take care of her.  He will see to her growth.  When and where it pleases Him in those who hear the gospel.


So take a deep breath.  Relax.  Repent of voluntarily living in the prison or maximum-security penitentiary named: You Must Build The Church.  Die to your relentless idolatrous obsession to ABSENT Jesus and REPLACE Him with yourself, your actions and your words.  As if you’re better than Jesus – what He does and says!  As if you’re an Atlas that carries the church on your shoulders.  As if it’s all up to you.  As if the church will die unless you take charge — unless you do the “building” verb.


Give me a break!  Get over it!  You didn’t pull off a Good Friday let alone an empty tomb on the Third Day.  But Son of the living God Jesus did!  Just like HE SAID!  So die to your sin of disbelief and trust Him.  Trust His word that He speaks to you.  “I will build my church.”


After all, He does not lie.  His words do not err nor fail.  He does exactly what He says.  How?  In the text, with Peter and the Eleven, He establishes the office of preaching to proclaim the grand opening of heaven’s gates or doors – of heaven’s divine reign come near and at hand to sinners.  Listen.  Jesus the Lord speaks.  “I give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.  Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”


Keys!  He builds and preserves His church through a divine set of verbal keys spoken on the earth.  The keys belong to Jesus.  Keys that bind and/or loose by a spoken word.  Keys that Jesus hooks with a mouth and a tongue of a preacher.  The Preaching Office of the Keys!  Keys that unleash the unthwartable all-authority-in-heaven-and-on-earth-power of Christ, Son of the living God’s Good Friday and Easter Sunday reign on the earth among — sinners!


One key is the preaching of the Law that binds or locks sinners in their sins.  Shows sinners that they are real sinners.  Crushes the sinner so that he/she has no legs to stand on. “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” 


The other key is the preaching of the Gospel that looses sin from the sinner, that is to say, bestows the Good Friday forgiveness of Jesus the Christ – the Son of the living God’s bloody crucifixion.  “Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”


What’s that?  You’re rolling your eyes.  I see the smirks on your faces.  Shaking your heads.  Why all the tude?  You want to say something?  Really?  As if you have better words than Jesus?  You’re telling me that no one will come to church and Trinity will go the way of the T-Rex if the preaching office binds and looses sinners with verbal keys?  Bind and loose?  Law and Gospel?


If I hear you correctly, you’re putting me on notice that the preaching office given to Peter, the Eleven, Paul and all men put into this office can’t call out sinners as sinners.  That the preacher shouldn’t dare to absolve anyone.  After all, you’re telling me that if I absolve people it means that they are … SINNERS.  Wow!  You’re giving me the fifth degree because you contend that the application of the forgiveness of sins to a sinner is an outright attack on their created goodness, their individual dignity and self-esteem, privacy, diversity, human and civil rights.  Therefore, you’re putting the kibosh on what Jesus says aren’t you?  Put a muzzle on the preaching office.  No Law to reveal sinners as sinners and to put the old Adam to death.  No Gospel to give Christ the Son of the living God’s forgiveness to sinners to create the new creation spelled F-A-I-T-H.


What’s that? You want to be freed from the Office of the Keys?  From the Law and the Gospel?  From binding and loosing?


I warn you. Who is the odd man out if you do this?  Who do you absent from the church if you don’t want the preaching office to use the Keys of binding and loosing on sinners?  Well, I’ll tell you:  Jesus!  He died as the all- atoning sacrifice only for … SINNERS!  You can’t have the church without that kind of Jesus!  Forbid the preaching office given to Peter, Paul, and the apostolic ministry to exercise the Office of the Keys and you absent Jesus from His church.


You don’t have better words than the Christ, the Son of the living God Jesus.  His words are: “I give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.  Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”


Now, let’s all together confess the biblical teaching taught faithfully from the Small Catechism.  It flows from the Matthew 16 text of today as well as Matthew 18 and John 20.  I’ll ask the questions and together we’ll repentantly and faithfully speak the answers.


Ready?  OK.  Here we go.


What is the Office of the Keys?  The Office of the Keys is that special authority which Christ has given to His Church on earth to forgive the sins of repentant sinners, but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as long as they do not repent.


Where is this written?  This is what St. John the Evangelist writes in chapter twenty:  The Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:22-23)


What do you believe according to these words?  I believe that when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, in particular when they exclude openly unrepentant sinners from the Christian congregation and absolve those who repent of their sins and want to do better, this is just as valid and certain even in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself.


As you believe so you have.


In the Name of Jesus.


 Office of the Keys 20

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