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Faith & Promise — Promise & Faith

July 29, 2018

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Pentecost 10                                           Trinity Lutheran Church

29 July 2018                                           Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

Genesis 9:8-17

 

Well, there you have it! The Flood! It was hellacious. God used water as His instrument by which He unleashed His divine wrath and judgment against unbelief and unbelievers. Talk about a preview of the Last Day’s judgment of the living and the dead! And yet Noah and his family, eight people in all, were saved by the floodwater as they floated on the water in the ark. The flood is over. Water receded. Out of the ark. A new beginning.

 

With that God makes a promise. To Noah and his sons. And to all. The promise is this. God vows to never again destroy the inhabitants of the earth with a flood. Attached to His Word of promise is the rainbow. “I have set my bow in the cloud … When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds I will remember my covenant / promise … and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant / promise.”

 

With this promise Noah and his family can have no doubt about God. Namely, that He is God for them. To care for them. To help them. To serve them. To care for them. He is the God who promised the Savior to Adam and Eve. The same promising God speaks of the rainbow. This is a wonderful promise especially after what has just happened to the world in the flood.

 

Now, what always goes with a divine promise? Do you know? It’s a word I spell out in sermons and Bible classes all the time. That’s right! F-A-I-T-H! Faith always trusts God’s promise. Faith never has better words than the Lord. God speaks. God promises. Faith says: “Amen.” That’s the highest worship of God! Really it is! Faith in God’s promise is the highest worship you can ever give Him! That’s why the Bible teaches that sinners are justified only by FAITH in the Word of the promising God who saves sinners by His Son’s death on a Friday afternoon we call “Good.”

 

Well, here in Genesis 9 God’s makes His promise. Noah and his sons are at the faith point. They are given to trust the Lord’s promise. The opposite, of course, is unbelief. Unbelief says: “No thanks. I’ll live by my word. I have better words than the Lord.” I warn you! Don’t ever talk like that. That’s hellacious.

 

Noah and his family are given to live by faith! That’s how believers live! They trust God’s Word of promise. Faith always trusts God’s Word. God’s promises are always to be used properly … by being believed! Whether it’s the promise attached with the rainbow or the promise of salvation joined to the crucified, risen and ascended Body of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

So here’s the clincher from today’s text. Like Noah and his family you too are given to live by faith. Faith in God’s promise. Especially when you may have doubts about God’s relationship to you or your relationship to God. Every time you see a rainbow in the sky it preaches God’s promise first given to Noah until the end of the world. He will never use a flood to destroy all flesh.

 

So that you know that God is FOR YOU and for your salvation, God makes other promises. When your life is in shambles, when it’s a wreck, and when it appears that God is not FOR YOU but AGAINST YOU, He makes wonderful, gracious and merciful promises.

 

For the sake of time today I’ll preach a few to you. After all, that’s exactly why Jesus sent me to preach to you. So the promises that I preach are all from Good Friday and Easter Sunday Jesus. You know them very well. Notice again the connection between His divine promise and faith. Promise and faith. Faith and promise. They always hang together. On to the promises. Here goes.

 

First, John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Did you hear that? What a magnificent promise. God is FOR YOU, not against you in the Good Friday death of His beloved Son. Here’s another. John 11:25-26. At the grave of His friend Lazarus Jesus categorically promises: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who believes in me shall never die.” Then He asks Martha: “Do you believe this?” Her answer? “Yes, Lord.” Highest worship! F-A-I-T-H! How about you? Do you believe Jesus’ promise? It’s for you too. Especially when you have to stare death in the face. Learn the answer from Martha.

 

A couple more just for good measure. Again from Jesus Himself. Promises to you. One is His promise He gives to you in holy baptism. Another is His promise in the Lord’s Supper.

 

After He carried all your sin to the cross, endured all its damnation in His crucified Good Friday Body — after He was hellaciously flooded with God’s wrath against all your sin and its condemnation in your place — and after He is freshly risen from the dead He commands that all nations be disciple via baptism in the Triune Name. Then He categorically promises the following in Mark 16:16. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” This is baptism’s promise. Salvation. Why? Here’s why. Because you’re given the divine and saving Triune Name in, with and under the water! That’s Matthew 28.

 

The apostle Peter learned this from the Lord. So in his first epistle, FOR YOU he pushes the Lord’s promise of holy baptism for all it is salvifically worth. He speaks of Noah and the Flood. Check it out. “In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water and this water typifies baptism that now saves you … by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 3:21-22) This is the Lord’s promise to you and for you. Faith says: “Amen.” Highest worship of Jesus!

 

Finally, the Lord’s Supper. He commands that you partake. “Do this,” He mandates. Jesus flat out says that the bread is His body and that the cup of wine is His blood. It is the same body and blood that suffered, died and rose from the dead. It’s the same body and blood that Good Friday-ly atoned for all your sin.  How can that be? It’s simple. He says so. His words do and give what they say.

 

And then comes His unthwartable promise: “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” (Matthew 26:26-28). Yes, that’s right. In the Lord’s Supper Jesus gives, bestows or delivers to you and FOR YOU His Good Friday forgiveness. To such a promise faith says, “Amen.” The highest worship of Jesus!

 

Now let’s bring this home and call it quits for the day. The apostle Paul summarizes the entire Old Testament when He quotes the prophet Habakkuk in Romans 1:17. It is one of the most incredible passages in the Bible. “The righteous [the believer] shall live by faith.”

 

Faith never trusts itself. That is to say, faith doesn’t believe in faith. Faith always goes with the divine promise. Without God making promises there is nothing to be believed. Without faith the promise is not beneficial. Promise and faith go together.

 

So, whether it’s the promise hooked with the rainbow, the promise of salvation’s achievement in Jesus’ person and work on the cross (John 3:16; John 11:25-26) or salvation’s delivery in the water of holy baptism or the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper (Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:19; 1 Peter 3:21-22; Matthew 26:26-28), the righteous lives by FAITH.  Faith in the Lord’s promise who declares that He is Good Friday-ly God FOR YOU and for your salvation. Faith. It’s the highest worship of the Lord.

 

Happy living by faith!

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

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