Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Bethany Bullet - October 8, 2013

For generations the seminaries taught the “Three-Part Sermon Model.” Leading one long time preacher who supervised many a vicar and young pastor to quip, “We ought to teach them to make sure their sermons have at-least ONE point.” 

Yesterday we broke both rules and merged them together. Yes, a FOUR point sermon! The reason being? In his second letter to young Timothy, Paul talks about faith with four different descriptions. As we begin the Reformation Season and think about “Sola Fide, Faith Alone” we do need to recognize that faith isn’t only, sola, spoken of in one way in the Scripture. Yet, these four descriptions are NOT separate or different realities but each is an aspect of true faith, that faith alone through which we are saved.

I.                    First Paul assures us that faith is that which rests on the work of Jesus Christ.   Faith rests finds no merit in self (neither the self that believes or in belief itself).  II Timothy 1:8, “God saved us not because of anything we have done but because of his own grace given us in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus’ work is what true faith rests in, and hence the faithful can be at rest for they are…
Triumph’s of the
Holy-One: Are the faithful

This core aspect of ‘faith’ is expressed by the hymn writer Paul Speratus in the Reformation era song with the words, “Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone, who did for all the world atone; He is our one redeemer.”

II.                  Such faith, faith that trusts in Christ and Christ alone, is a gift from God! Faith is God-given not human driven. Paul makes sure that both Timothy and those who would one day read his letter to Timothy, that includes you and me, not only rejoice in Christ’s work FOR us but that we also rejoice in the Spirit of God’s work WITHIN us. He, the Spirit, has granted us faith that trusts in Christ. In II Timothy 1:6-7, faith wasn’t something Timothy chose or arrived at but something He received. The gift of God! He gave us.

The Spirit has led us to trust in Christ for…
Through the
Holy-Spirit: Is faith

For this reason Luther wrote words about reason in his explanation of the 3rd Article of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe that I by my own reason or strength cannot believe in Jesus Christ or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called my by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and preserved me in the one true faith…” 

III.                While we cannot on our own believe, through God’s work in our hearts, minds and lives we do believe and faith is rightly called “ours.” Faith is a personal trust. Paul reminds Timothy that it is not only personal to him, but was personally held by his mother and grandmother. Now Paul calls Timothy to strengthen and use that which is his, his faith.  II Timothy 1:12, “This gift has been entrusted to you and is in you.”

Faith is not only ours personally but it is a personal connection to Jesus Himself for it…

Him: Does faith 

For this reason in the Reformation the reformers proclaimed, against the teaching of the day, that faith was not merely knowledge about Bible stories, but a personal connection to the One whom the story is about and by whom it is authored; a connection so personal that it believes that had all the world remained free from sin but me, God would have done the same thing in Christ.
IV.                Such a personal connection results in personal action! Faith flows into service. Paul called Timothy to “fan into flame” his faith.  II Timothy 1:9, God had called him “to a holy life!”  Faith trusts and believes the promises of God!  Faith never looks to self for hope, for it is convinced that even our best works are but filthy rages.  Yet, even as the flesh fights such seeking, faith seeks to work for the best.

Those who trust in Him, have faith…
                                Head: shall the members of his body!

This truth lead Luther to say, “we are saved through faith alone (sola fides) and yet faith is never alone it is always accompanied by good works.”

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer


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