Sermon 5-6-2018

May 7, 2018


Rogate Sunday James 1:22-27

Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He has taken our sins

away. The gift of forgiveness is ours. No longer are our sins held against us. Our sins are

separated from us as far as the East is from the West. Jesus has risen from the dead. Death no

longer has any power over us. Jesus has purchased and won us from sin, death and the power of

the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood and with HIs innocent, bitter

sufferings and death. Because of Jesus, we do not fear suffering, pain and death. Jesus is the

Resurrection and the Life. Life reigns supreme. Death is no more. Life is victorious. Christ is

risen. He is risen, indeed. Alleluia! We look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of

the world to come, when Jesus will come to take us to be where He is, seated at the right hand of

the Father, reigning with Jesus over His kingdom. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, His

ascension into heaven and promise to come again comforts us, goodness and mercy follow us all

the days of our life and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

I know what you are thinking right now, “Yes, we know pastor. You tells us every time we

gather together in God’s presence. Yes, we know pastor, our sins are forgiven. Jesus loves us. We

know. Get on with it. Tell us something else, something new. Tell us something we don’t know.”

Ok, how about this? St. James, in his epistle for today, tells us to be doers of the Word, and

not hearers only.” What does it mean to be a “doer of the Word”? And it doesn’t mean what you

think it means. The assigned epistle reading for this Sunday in the church year, which has been

the assigned epistle reading for over 500 years, left off an important verse if we truly want to

understand what it means to be a “doer of the Word”. In the verse just prior to “Be doers of the

Word, and not hearers only” St. James writes, “Put away all filthiness and overflow of

wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” St.

James exhorts us to get rid of all evil and receive Jesus. In other words, St. James wants us to

renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways and be baptized. In the same way, John the

Baptist preached our need to repent of our sins, turn away from evil, and receive the Gospel. In

the same way, St. Paul tells us that in Holy Baptism we are to drown and kill the Old Adam which

is in us. We are to get rid of the sin which we were born with, that we would arise to live before

God in righteousness and purity all the days of our life. In the same way, St. John tells us to get

rid of all works of darkness, that the light of Christ would shine brightly within us. St. James is

telling us to remember our baptism and all the benefits Christ gives us through this Sacrament.

St. James tells us that if someone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer of the Word, he is

like a man who looks in a mirror, only looking at the outside and forgetting what he looks like on

the inside. As both hearers and doers of the Word, when we look in the mirror we must see our

sin and the need for Jesus. This takes place in our baptism. As poor miserable sinners, deserving

of temporal death and eternal punishment, we must never stop seeing our sin and our need to turn

away from all evil, returning to the Lord our God. We must never forget our baptism, for their we

are joined to Jesus and His death on the cross. We must never forget our baptism, for their we are

joined to Jesus’ and His resurrection from the grave and the life of the world to come. It is in

baptism that we put away sin and receive the implanted Word which is saving faith.

St. James is encouraging us to participate in and use what we have already been given in

our baptism. Baptism, where Jesus speaks into us the Way and the Truth of salvation, where He

speaks into us Resurrection and Life, where He speaks into us the gifts of God and His kingdom,

saves us from sin, death and the power of the devil. Just as Jesus is risen from the dead, living and

reigning to all eternity, so too will we live and reign with Jesus forever. We must cling to our

baptism, baptism now saves us. We must cling to the Word of God and the water of baptism, it is

the power of God unto salvation. Jesus uses baptism to save us, to mark us as His own, to assure

us that the promises that He speaks to us are true. And having been baptized, we have the

privilege to call upon God by name, confident that He will hear us and answer us, confident that

He is with us always, never leaving us or forsaking us, confident that He will come again to take

us to be where He is. These are the benefits Jesus gives us through baptism.

Baptism is not just a one time event, it is a daily event, where daily we are provided for,

where daily we are taken care of, where daily we live before God our heavenly Father in

righteousness and purity. Baptism is a daily participation on earth of the future reality in heaven.

Daily we live the baptismal life having received the Word of God, it allows us to live, as

St. James calls it, the “law of liberty”. Living the “law of liberty”, we are not afraid of punishment

and condemnation, for we are confident of Jesus’ love for us. As baptized children of God, we

live our daily life in love toward our neighbor because Jesus has first loved us. We live every day

in confidence, not in fear. We live every day in hope, not in uncertainty. We live every day as

doers of Jesus’ will. We do what Jesus does for the sake of our neighbor. We love our neighbor,

not because we have to, to avoid punishment, but because we get to out of love, that our neighbor

would have the same benefits and blessings that we receive from the generous hand Jesus.

We who are baptized into Jesus, do we know what is being said? Do we realize how

important Jesus’ perfect life, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven is? Do we

realize how important our baptism is? Do we realize how important it is that we do fear, love and

trust in God above all things? Do we realize how important it is, that we love our neighbor as we

have first been loved?

Do we understand how important the Word of God is? Do we read, mark, learn and

inwardly digest the Word of God? Do we allow it to shape us, change us, guide us? Do we lead

holy lives according to the Word of God? Do we hold the Word of God sacred, gladly hearing it

and learning it? If we do, why do we say that we can be Christians apart from where Jesus

promises us He will be? If we do, why do we say we can make our own choices and our own

decisions regarding right and wrong? If we do, why don’t we run to the altar every Lord’s Day

and be strengthened with the very body and blood which Jesus gave us that we would be

nourished and strengthened to daily live the baptismal life? If we do not receive this heavenly

Bread and cup of salvation, we are dead. If we do hold God’s Word sacred, do we give thanks to

God for everything He gives us? Do we remember that every good and perfect gift, even those

things which we view as bad, come down from heaven for our good. If we do, do we sincerely

forgive our friends and enemies, our families and neighbors, when they sin against us? We

receive the forgiveness of sins by God’s grace, and we are privileged to share that same

forgiveness with those who sin against us, whether they deserve it or not. We have received what

we have not deserved and we give what others do not deserve.

If we look into the mirror, and take a really close look, this is the kind of baptismal life we

should be living. We know it. This is the life we have been baptized into. We know it. This is the

life we persevere in. We know it. This is the perfect life that Jesus lived for us and this is the life

we are privileged to live. We know it. May we never use the excuse that we are sinners, unable to

live this way. Because Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, we are

holy, and we live holy lives to the glory of God. This is nothing new. This is not boring. This is

what you hear from this pulpit and in this church every time preaching and teaching takes place. It

is the holy will of God. God grant it. Amen.