141221 Romans 16:25-27

Last Updated on Monday, 22 December 2014 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Sermon Text: Romans 16:25 – 27
Sermon Theme: To God Be The Glory!

I would like to begin today by reading a quote for you. I am not going to tell you the name of the author of the quote just yet. It was written shortly after the rioting that took place in Ferguson, Missouri this past November. In part he writes this:

"Ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. But I'm encouraged because God has provided a solution for sin through his Son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that's capable of looking past the outward and seeing what's truly important in every human being. The cure...is not education or exposure. It's the GOSPEL. So, finally, I'm encouraged because the GOSPEL gives mankind hope."

Who would you guess is the author of this quote? One of the writers for our Wisconsin Synod's monthly magazine, "Forward in Christ"? Maybe a Professor at Martin Luther College or our Synod's Seminary? Maybe the President of our church body? It might surprise you that the author of this quote is a NFL football player for the New Orleans Saints by the name of Benjamin Watson. Even though he is not a Wisconsin Synod Pastor, or a Professor at one of our Synod's schools or the President of our church body, Benjamin Watson makes a good point. There is only one cure for sin. Jesus. Today, as we close out the Advent Season of the church year, we give thanks for the message of the Gospel which points us to the one and only cure for your sin and mine; our one and only Savior, Jesus Christ. Today, we join our voices with that of the Apostle Paul and say, "To God be the glory!"

The portion of God's Word before us is at the end of Paul's letter to the Romans. In the original Greek it is only one sentence. But it is 53 words long! If he were handing this in for an assignment, a teacher would mark up this run on sentence with their red pen and tell him to write it over. If you look at the way Paul concludes his other letters, you will see that the way he concludes this letter to the Romans is very different from the "normal way" he concludes those other letters. So, you can quickly come to the conclusion that Paul is quite emotional as he writes these final words to his fellow Christians in Rome. It is something like this: Nine times out of ten, your friend concludes his or her e-mail to you simply by writing, "Take care. Sincerely, So and So." But then there is the one time when they conclude by writing, "You are such a great friend! I miss you so much! I wish I could see you soon! Your dearest friend, So and So!" This time you know that this friend is coming from a totally different emotional state than normal.

So it is with the Lord's Apostle here at the end of his letter to the Romans. Paul is "worked up." He is excited. Why? Throughout his letter, Paul had proclaimed the Gospel. He continually reminded his readers about God's amazing grace. Led by God the Holy Spirit, Paul began his letter by writing, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'" Later, he would write, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." And a little farther into his letter he would remind his readers that, "[nothing] in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Overflowing with thankfulness for the Gospel, Paul can't help but burst into his words of praise when he writes, "To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ!"

What has the only wise God done for you and me? We read that he has made known to you and me "the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God..." It is interesting that Paul refers to the Gospel as a "mystery". How is the Gospel a "mystery"? It is a mystery, not in the sense that it can never be figured out. But rather, human reason can't begin to understand it fully on its own. As we read in 1 Corinthians chapter 2, "We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him' – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit."

What has been revealed to us by the Spirit? We read, "Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ..." Our faith in Jesus as our one and only Savior is "established" by the Gospel. This is so much better than simply "set". You see, you can set a glass on a table, but then you can knock that glass off the table and it shatters into a million pieces. To God be the glory that he doesn't simply "set" faith in your heart and mine so it can easily be shattered when our enemy the devil knocks us over. Rather, to God be the glory, that your faith and mine is "established" in our hearts. It is God the Holy Spirit who lives in your heart and mine. And the big, bad wolf can't blow down his house. As we read again in 1 Corinthians, this time chapter 6, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price." What was that price? Dr. Martin Luther writes in his Small Catechism that the Savior, Jesus Christ, "has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death."

To God be the glory that on the cross, Jesus paid in full the price for all sins. And that forgiveness becomes yours and mine by the power of the Gospel, that is "the proclamation of Jesus Christ." A carpenter drives a nail into a piece of wood with a hammer or a nail gun. A hunter shoots a deer with a gun or a bow and arrow. You clear your driveway of snow with a shovel or snow blower. To God be the glory that your faith and mine is not established by any effort on our part. Rather, God the Holy Spirit uses as his tool the powerful Gospel to place faith in your heart and mine; to establish a relationship between us and the one true God. Again, from Luther's Small Catechism we read, "I believe that I cannot by my own thinking or choosing believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith."

This brings to mind one final thought from this section of God's Word. We are told that our Savior-God desires that "all nations might believe and obey him." As part of a self-study that is taking part at our school, a committee is asked to review the "Vision Statement" of our school's ministry. To God be the glory that he has a huge vision. He wants people from all nations around the globe to be saved. Once again during this Advent Season we have been reminded that the baby born to Mary in Bethlehem is not only your Savior and mine. He is the Savior of the world. As Paul writes earlier in his letter to the Romans (in chapter 10), "'Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.' For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'"

As you and I gather together in God's house this weekend, to God be the glory! As once again we hear the Good News of the Gospel and the forgiveness of all of our sins, to God be the glory! As you and I give thanks to God the Holy Spirit that he has established faith in our hearts in Jesus as our one and only Savior, to God be the Glory! As we share the Good News about Jesus with others, to God be the glory! As we look forward to our celebrations of our Savior's birth during this coming week, to God be the glory! As we bring to a close this Advent Season, we join our voices with the Apostle Paul's, "Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him–to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen."

 

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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Sunday
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9:15 A.M. Bible Study for All Ages

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818 West Wisconsin Avenue
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
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