Let us pray: Dear Savior, today as we celebrate Your restoration of the Gospel among Your people we are happy, relieved, thankful, and honored. We are happy that Your have honored us with Your eternal love. We are relieved that we don’t have to do the impossible and attempt to earn Your favor through our attempts at living a holy life. And we are thankful that eternal forgiveness for all sins is made ours through Your gift of saving faith. Today keep us from being cocky about our blessings by instilling in us truly humble hearts. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LORD OF THE CHURCH!
TEXT: Jeremiah 31: 31-34
Fellow Redeemed Reformed Sinners:
What a joyous celebration we had last week! How good it was to have Pres. Orvick here, to listen to his uplifting message, to enjoy the fine meal and fellowship afterwards. Truly it was a day to remember! One of the things that made it an especially interesting day was the voluminous historical records captured by pictures and mementos which are still up in the fellowship hall. A couple of weeks ago as those displays were being gathered and assembled, Pres. Krey asked me to dig out the mortgage for Pinewood. It has been paid off for a few years, but he wanted a copy to illustrate God’s blessings upon His flock. And in his remarks during the program last week, Pres. Krey reminded us that some members had signed that mortgage, too. They had legally bound this congregation to repay that loan.
Today is Reformation Sunday. And in our lesson we have another legally binding contract laid out for our inspection, too. It is a contract between God and us. It is a contract in which God binds Himself to our salvation through the coming Savior, Jesus Christ, and in which we do nothing but receive His everlasting love and forgiveness simply through faith. Yes, as we examine our text, it is very clear that
THIS CONTRACT HAS BEEN SIGNED WITH BLOOD!
The Reformation of the Church, undertaken by Dr. Martin Luther on October 31, 1517, was based on three distinctly Biblical principles. They are: grace alone, faith alone, and scripture alone. That is, God saved us freely by Christ dying for all our sins, that we grasp that blessing and make it our own through God’s gift of faith, and that unless we can prove a teaching from a clear statement of the Bible we will not and cannot bind anyone’s conscience to it. Today’s lesson clearly underscores all of those Reformation concepts. So, let’s look at this wonderful lesson and behold God’s love for us here at Pinewood today on Oct. 28th, 2001!
The date is about 600 years before Christ. The situation is that God’s people are divided. The ten northern tribes of Israel have gone their own way for the past 350 years and now they are scattered like fallen leaves around the globe-destroyed by the Assyrian empire. Meanwhile, the last remnant of God’s faithful people-the house of Judah-with Jerusalem as their capital have also played silly political games while getting further and further away from following God in their worship life. As a result many of their leading citizens have been carted off into slavery in Babylon and soon the rest would follow-after Babylon (the superpower of the day) destroyed Jerusalem, the temple, and everything in the area. After giving Jeremiah the unenviable task of proclaiming God’s coming judgement upon these wayward people, God now gives them hope in order to comfort them amid their coming afflictions. This is what He says.
“The time is coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” Note well that word “covenant.” It means a legally binding agreement. It is a contract which God makes and which He cannot break without denying Himself. It is a one-sided agreement in which God does all the giving and we do all the receiving. I say “we” because we’re included! The house of Israel is code word for the gentiles. The house of Judah is code word for the Jews. In short, all people will benefit from this blessed agreement from God’s almighty hand-including us!
“It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,’ declares the Lord.” That’s a reference to Mt. Sinai and the giving of the 10 commandments. God wrote that contract in stone, but sinful humans immediately broke it. Indeed, although God treated them like His beloved Bride, (after all, that is what the Church is) nonetheless, we cannot measure up to the perfection those commandments require. We cannot earn God’s favor by trying to live Christian lives because none of us is that holy or perfect. But, instead of simply writing us off, God decides to make a new agreement that truly will ensure the salvation of our souls. And of course, that new agreement is the promise of Jesus Christ, our Savior, Who would change places with us and be holy and perfect in our place!
“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will put my law (my eternal truth) in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the Lord. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Yes, the law of God spoken of here is nothing other than Scripture alone. And the central message of the whole Bible is that God has saved His people through the priceless blood of Jesus Christ. All people have heard something about Christ and His power over death. In Him God the Father has forgiven our wickedness and remembered our sins no more!
What inner troubles did you bring to church today? Was it guilt over a nasty divorce? Was it frustration over parents who don’t seem to listen? Was it inner lust, greed, or simply a lack of self-esteem? Well, whatever you have brought which you today-Christ went to the cross for every one of those sins. He paid for your guilt before God. And because of His sacrifice those sins are gone, forgotten, obliterated by God! He forgives you. He forgives me. Not because we’ve earned it but because Christ earned it for us! Rejoice!
And to insure that this infinitely valuable gift of peace with God becomes our very own possession God also empowers His words of grace so as to work faith, trust, and thankfulness in our hearts! For remember what St. Paul writes via inspiration: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ because it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe!”
This contract has been signed with blood. And because the blood on that dotted line is God’s blood we have no fears for our future.-It cannot be voided. Take God up on His offer of heaven by putting your faith in His contract. And don’t let anyone or anything in all creation pull you away from it!