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Living By Faith!

August 18, 2019

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Pentecost 10                                                                                         Trinity Lutheran Church

18 August 2019                                                                                        Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

Hebrews 11:17-31; 12:1-3

 

The summary of the entire Old Testament is given in Romans 1:17 wherein St. Paul quotes the prophet Habakkuk: “The righteous shall live by faith.” Did you hear that? The Christian lives by F-A-I-T-H!

 

The portion of the text from Hebrews 11 today gives a number of examples of Old Testament faith-ers. A Who’s Who’s list of those that suffered broken and contrite hearts and who then lived by faith – all their lives. Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. Joseph. Moses. Israel as she crossed the Red Sea on dry land. Israel as she marched around the unconquerable city walls of Jericho that crumbled on the seventh day. Even a repent-ed and faith-ed prostitute named Rahab who hid and protected Israelite spies in the roof of her home from the murderous Canaanites!

 

Yes, they all lived by faith. But what does that mean? What does it mean to live by faith? The text from Hebrews tells us! Thanks be to God!

 

First, faith is passive. That is to say, faith is given to. By the Lord! For example, Jesus GAVE Himself into the very good Good Friday sacrificial death to win and achieve the world’s salvation. Jesus is pure GIFT FOR YOU! And now the reigning-at-the-right-hand-of-the-Father Jesus bestows and distributes the salvational benefits of His Good Friday sacrifice, the forgiveness of sins, in the Word of the gospel preached, in holy baptism, in holy absolution and in Holy Communion. What is primary is that Jesus GIVES. His life into death on the cross. And then He gives and speaks what He won on the cross in the Word and sacraments. In this way Jesus is “among … [us] as one who serves” as He promises in Luke 22.

 

So, what does it mean to live by faith? First and foremost it means that all the Old Testament examples listed in Hebrews 11 and we 21st century hangers-on of the Lord Jesus receive what Jesus promises and gives. As the text says a faith-er, “looks to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith.” Always trusting in Him and what He promises and gives. Faith talk at the Lord’s giving point is: “Thank you Jesus! Gift given. Gift received.” Whether it’s you, Abraham, Moses, David, etc. And as you believe so you have!

 

Second, faith that believes in Savior of sinners Jesus and that receives His salvfic gifts is ACTIVE! Faith works. Faith does things. Like delighting in the Lord’s Word and will. Walking in the Lord’s ways. Serving the neighbor who needs lots of your care and love.

 

In addition, as the text says faith actively FIGHTS and RUNS! A faith-er fights against sin. The text compares it to a runner that runs a marathon. “Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

 

All the Old Testament faith-ers listed in the text are examples that the Christian life is a constant battle against sin and the old sinful nature or the old Adam that clings to all of us. Yes, being a Christian, a faith-er, means that you’re running not a 100 meter dash but a marathon. A life long battle of REPENTANCE against your sinful flesh and a life long attachment to Jesus as the Savior through faith. When the Lord Jesus preached “repent” and “believe” in Mark 1 He meant that one’s entire life was to be the life of repentance and faith. Read the Old Testament and you’ll soon see that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, etc., were sinners like you and me. Just like you and me they all daily battled their sinful flesh and every day they needed to be repented of the sin and faith-ed toward the promise of Good Friday Jesus!

 

And the battle against sin is to the death! The old Adam’s death! Daily! Through repentance and faith! The old Adam can’t be domesticated, retrained, or rehabilitated. The old Adam must die. “Put off your old self” as St. Paul says in Ephesians 4. So that the new man spelled F-A-I-T-H can live before God in the righteousness and purity of Christ!

 

This is the life lived in and from holy baptism. Or as the text exhorts you today: “let us also lay aside every weight and sin.” In order to daily remake you as a faith-er in Him, Jesus would smash and destroy your most treasured defenses and convictions. So today is the day to repent! Die to your sin. All of it! Don’t excuse it anymore. Don’t justify it any longer. Confess it. Tell the truth. Be honest about yourself before God. Your old Adam is not the Lord. Jesus is! Jesus would divide you from your sin and join you to Himself and the salvation that flows from His Good Friday wounds.

 

So, as you lay aside every weight and sin that so closely clings to your old sinful flesh you look to Jesus. Why? Because He’s the Savior of sinners! You and me! He’s the pioneer and perfecter of your faith! You won’t get through the marathon of the daily battle against sin without Him! Forgiving yourself doesn’t work. Granting salvation to yourself doesn’t work. Faith-ing yourself doesn’t work. That would all be hellacious in the end if you try that.

 

So you look to Jesus! He lived, died and rose FOR YOU. SALVATION begins and ends only with Him! He endured the pain of the cross for the joy of saving you! He scorned the shame of His Good Friday death to save you from eternal shame. For the joy of being your Savior, of bearing your sin, of dying your death, Jesus went to the cross. And now He reigns at “the right hand of the throne of God” FOR YOU as He serves you heaping portions of His Good Friday forgiveness in the Word and sacraments.

 

Brothers and sisters, keep your eyes fixed on Good Friday Jesus. The eyes of faith that is!

 

You’re a faith-er like all the Old Testament believers. Which means you’re a receiver. Given to by the Lord. In addition, you faith-ers lay aside the weight of sin or daily fight your old Adam to the death that is repentance. Like a marathon runner you faith-ers, straining toward the finish line, reaching to break the tape, push forward, through this life – through your day of death and then on to the resurrection of the body on the Last Day with your eyes of faith FOCUSED ON JESUS! Because He is the founder and perfecter of our faith.

 

“The righteous shall live by faith.” That’s the essence of being a Christian!

 

Happy living by faith!

 

In the Name of Jesus.

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