Pastor Aaron Steinbrenner delivers a sermon entitled ” We Believe Jesus Is Lord“ based on 1 Corinthians 12:3 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.
Delivered on Sunday, August 5, 2018
When amazing, miraculous things happen…and they happen often enough, they begin to lose their luster…the WOW-factor, and we begin to view them as routine.
- A small seed is planted into the ground. Weeks and months and years later, that small seed is now a large tree producing shade and fruit and turning carbon dioxide into oxygen.
- A human life is formed in the womb (knit together by God, the psalmist would say)…we watch through ultrasound eyes. 12 weeks – fingers and toes and developing lungs; 16 weeks – heartbeat; 32 weeks – unique fingerprints being formed. And then delivery…and then a toddler…and then a teenager.
- A giant orb of rock and dirt and water hurls through space as it circles the sun. It spins at a rate of 1,000 miles per hour and moves over 60,000 miles per hour. And yet we aren’t violently shaken and flung off? Why not? No one can understand how or why gravity works. It’s amazing. But since it’s always happening, we view it as rather routine.
Here’s another seemingly “routine” occurrence. For generations the Lord has used people as his agents. He’s used prophets and preachers and parents and they have delivered and proclaimed and shared the gospel message of Jesus. It seems so routine, so unremarkable…but when teachers teach God’s about Jesus….when missionaries or neighbors or friends introduce unchurched people to Jesus the Christ…something amazing is happening. Yes, those people…those agents are telling others about Jesus but it is the Holy Spirit who is explaining and enlightening…converting and capturing hearts…creating and growing faith. And that, my friends, is amazing…it’s a miracle.
And you are the living proof. It is not just highly unlikely, but by human standards, it is impossible that any of you should be here today, confessing together: We Believe Jesus Is Lord.
It’s true, the human mind seems to have almost unlimited potential. Are you amazed at the advancements in technology? (you can pay bills, buy/trade/sell on the stock market, turn off the lights in your home or adjust your air conditioning just by typing a speaking a few words into your phone). Medical advancements have been enormous. So many diseases have been cured or curbed by medications. Some disease remain a mystery, but research and development continues…because the human mind has almost unlimited potential. Except for this one important thing. The human mind can never and will never be able to grasp or understand or believe in Jesus Christ. Not without help.
Why not? Remember our second lesson for today? The Apostle Paul told us: “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God…they are foolishness to him…he cannot understand them”…those truths are “spiritually discerned.”
Whether we like the description or not, the Bible says that ALL people are conceived and born in sin. Yes, we know that. Yes, but the Bible also says ALL people are conceived and born in unbelief. It uses words like spiritually dead and living in darkness to describe you and me and all people. Isaiah in his 59th chapter describes this spiritual blindness and need for the Spirit when he says: We look for light but all is darkness; for brightness but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall (Is 59:9). Yet, here you are. You aren’t groping, you are worshiping…you aren’t stumbling in darkness, you are basking in the light of Jesus…you aren’t searching, you are confessing, “We Believe Jesus is Lord.” What happened? The Spirit happened.
He used agents – people who told you about Jesus. All of it seeming so routine.
- A baby is held over the font by a parent or sponser.
- A toddler sits on dad’s lap as he reads a Bible story.
- A preschooler listens to Sunday school teacher explain why Jesus was born and why he died and why he rose.
- A Teenager memorizes Bible passages and then systematically sorts through the basic teachings of the Bible in catechism class.
- A young couple…a family…an elderly couple…a widow…a widower sits in the pew.
It seems so routine…and to some, maybe even a little boring. Where’s the luster? Where’s the WOW-factor? Here it is.
- The same Word Jeremiah says can smash rocks to pieces.
- The same Word Paul says is powerful like dynamite.
- The same Word that made Timothy wise for salvation.
- The same Word the writer to the Hebrews says is sharper than any double-edged sword.
That same rock-smashing, light-giving, faith-nourishing Word is spoken and taught in every inch of that school and read as God’s truth from this very spot and taken in every time you have your own morning or lunch-time or evening devotion. And there’s the Holy Spirit.
- He loosens your grip on self-reliance and helps you hold tighter to Jesus.
- He turns your eyes away from decaying material things and helps you see value in eternal treasures.
- He entrances you with a story that so many in the world consider too simple and too silly for them to take seriously…but here in the powerful Word the Holy Spirit tells you of a Jesus…who was perfect for you…who was punished for you…who is alive for you.
No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. The deep love of the Father. The selfless sacrifice of Jesus his Son – all that would be meaningless to you, had the Holy Spirit not done his routine, amazing, miraculous work and so enabled you to say, “Jesus Is Lord”…Jesus is my Lord.
Let me close with these two points.
- The fact that saving faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit ought to keep us from thinking too highly of ourselves. There’s a danger for us to look around at the inhabitants of this world and identify those who malign conservative Christianity and see them as lesser human beings. Just remember, you and I were among those ranks too…we also, in our unbelief, found God and his message foolish. We were just as blind as they are now. Those blind folks need our prayers and they need someone to introduce them to Jesus…to share the gospel of Jesus…so the Holy Spirit can start swingin away with his powerful, rock-smashing, faith-creating Word. You see, God wants them in heaven too. Young people, our world needs more pastors and teachers. Members of Peace, our neighborhoods need more Christian witnesses.
- Also, the fact that faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit is a big comfort. The deep love of the Father and the selfless work of Jesus is not contingent upon how big or small your faith is. On your down day, when you feel lost and alone and weak in faith…Jesus still is your Savior and God still loves you. The Holy Spirit doesn’t use his power to manipulate your emotions…he uses his power to keep your eyes focused on the facts…to keep your grip galvanized on Jesus. And that is amazing, miraculous.
And there’s your Wow-factor. There’s your luster. God has seen fit to love you, send Jesus for you, and give you the best teacher ever – the Holy Spirit, who enables you to say now and forever: I believe Jesus is Lord! Amen.