Sermon Transcript – Faith Is…

1 Year Lectionary – Eleventh Sunday After Trinity – Sunday, August 28, 2022 | Pr. Chris Rosebrough

Welcome to the Teaching Ministry of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church. Kongsvinger is a beacon for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is located on the plains of Northwestern Minnesota.
We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins and salvation by grace through faith alone, and now, here’s a message from Pastor Chris Rosebrough:
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Time StampTranscript
0:22The holy gospel according
0:29to saint luke the 18th chapter
0:38jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and they treated others with
0:45contempt two men went up into the temple to pray one a pharisee the other a tax collector the pharisees standing by
0:51himself prayed thus god i thank you that i am not like other men extortioners unjust adulterers or even like this tax
0:58collector i fast twice a week i give tithes of all that i get but the tax collector standing far off would not
1:04even lift up his eyes to heaven but beat his breath saying god be merciful to me a sinner i tell you this man went down
1:11to his house justified rather than the other for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and the one who humbles
1:17himself will be exalted this is the gospel of the lord in the name of jesus
1:24amen faith that’s our topic today faith what is faith what is that all about and
1:29you’ll if you kind of give you an analogy faith is something that has to do with trust if you don’t trust
1:36something or someone well you’re not going to extend yourself or risk things you know
1:42for instance think all the way back to that after the 9 11 attacks you guys remember those i remember those can’t
1:48get that out of my mind i’ve been thinking about it lately i don’t know what it’s just because we’re getting close to september again you know what
1:54i’m saying but all that being said immediately after the tap after the attacks there were no flights available
2:01nobody could fly anywhere and i kind of was excited about that because my boss at the time who i’m
2:08i’m absolutely convinced was the the guy that they based michael scott’s character on um from the office my boss
2:15happened to be in san francisco at the time and well at the time of the attack
2:20him being in san francisco no flights available he wasn’t going to be in the office for a few days and it
2:25took him a few days to figure out how to rent a car and then drive all the way back to southern california i was bummed
2:32when he showed up but all of that being said you’ll note that no flights were available and everybody had lost faith
2:39in the safety of getting on an airplane and so the government and the airlines
2:44and the airports had to come to put together some kind of a comprehensive plan
2:50to make it so that we would feel safe flying again and so more than a week
2:56more than a week no flights available they finally had put together an interim plan on what they were going to do to
3:02ensure people’s safety and i remember in southern california watching the news
3:08and the news was all about the first flights that were taking off they actually went to airports showed the
3:14security scene that was there there were armed military with m16 automatic weapons in airport terminals man talk
3:22about freaky but all of that being said they were interviewing people who were getting on planes do you think it’s safe
3:28to fly yet do you think it’s safe to fly yet i’m not sure but i have to get back home and things like this were the
3:34answer and so when the planes took off everybody held their collective breaths and nails were being bitten and i
3:41remember hearing on the news the first plane that land at los angeles international lax that the people on
3:48board cheered when they landed safely they would have given the standing o to the pilots except for they had to keep
3:54their their seat belts on in their tray tables in the upright and locked position i know how the spiel goes right
4:00so when we talk about faith faith is one of those things where we have trust it can trust can be broken or as christians
4:07we’re going to note that we are always tempted to put trust or have trust in the wrong thing this is
4:14why heresy is so deadly and so as we work our way through our three texts today we’re going to work our way
4:20through all three we’re going to consider what’s going on here as it relates to the topic of faith and so in order to
4:28help us out genesis 4 is where we’re going to begin and i would note when you ask your average garden-variety
4:35church-going evangelical christian what is the reason why cain’s sacrifice was
4:41not accepted by god answer because cain offered a salad
4:47wrong okay i can hear the game show host buzzer go
4:54right now thanks for playing you know here’s some lovely parting gifts but you’re wrong okay this is not how this works if you
5:01work your way through the book of leviticus you’ll note that grain offerings are completely acceptable to
5:06god you can bring a grain offering to god you can offer him bread you can offer him wine you can offer him animals
5:13it doesn’t matter so what’s the problem here and we need to understand what’s
5:18going on and so we’re going to take a look at hebrews 11 first in hebrews 11 the great hall of faith
5:25passage hebrews 11 1 begins with these words faith is the assurance of things hoped
5:32for the certainty of things not seen oh that’s a good definition of faith the
5:38assurance of things hoped for what are you hoping for from god by the way if you’re hoping for a maserati or me and
5:44aston martin yeah you got the wrong hope here man because truly an aston martin is not something that i can see in my
5:50driveway at the moment thank god can you imagine paying the taxes on that thing every year and then the upkeep and the
5:56maintenance all of that being said we’re talking about what
6:01reconciliation with god the hope that we have of eternity with christ in the new
6:06earth and you’re going to note that faith is the assurance of things that are hoped for it is the certainty of things not seen and in our day and age
6:13there’s a lot of people running around the christian landscape talking about the virtues of doubt and that they are
6:20talking down the concept of certainty oh if you have certainty as a christian
6:26you’re arrogant how dare you have certainty it is better to embrace doubt to embrace mystery to embrace
6:34nebulousness and fuzzy things and you know that’s not what faith is faith is the
6:39assurance of things hoped for it is the certainty of things not seen then the author of hebrews goes on to
6:45say for by faith the people of old people of the old covenant they receive
6:50their commendation and by faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of god so that what is seen
6:56was not made out of the things that are visible and by faith able here’s our operative text by faith
7:04abel offered to god a more acceptable sacrifice than cain
7:10through which he was commended as righteous god commending him by
7:15accepting his gifts you see it abel had faith
7:20cain and verse 6 then goes on to say and without faith it is impossible to please
7:27god for whoever would draw near to god must believe that he exists and he rewards those who seek him without faith
7:35it’s not difficult it’s not challenging it’s not hard
7:40it’s impossible to please god that’s the reason why cain did not please god
7:47because cain had no faith now work this out then note that our old
7:52testament text makes it very clear that there was some religious activity going on
7:58there we’ll talk about that in a second so let’s work our way through our old testament passage at least a portion of
8:03it adam knew his wife she conceived and she bore cain saying i have gotten a man with the help of the
8:09lord i always point this out when this text comes up when i preach on it if you read this in hebrew it does not say i’ve
8:16gotten a man with the help of the lord it legitimately just translates as i
8:22have gotten a man the lord and there is a whole exegetical
8:29tradition within christianity for millennia now that have seen this text as well what as well belief that eve
8:37mistakenly thought that cain was the messiah the cain was the seed of the woman who
8:43would crush the head of the serpent could you imagine what a head trip that would have been
8:49right and but the arrogance that would have fostered inside of this fellow so again
8:55eve bore she bore his son abel now abel was the keeper of sheep cain a worker of the
9:01ground and in the course of time cain brought to yahweh an offering of the fruit of the ground abel also brought of
9:08the first fruit of his flock and of their fat portions and we’ll note here there’s religious activity going on
9:16cain doesn’t have faith but he’s going through all the motions
9:22it’s kind of like the roman concept of x opera operato how do the sacraments work
9:28x opera operato well what does x opera operato mean by the working of the work you see
9:35just do the thing bend the knee make the sign of the cross light the candle say the prayer come to the
9:42eucharist do the thing it doesn’t matter if you believe or not the thing does the thing because the working of the work does the work
9:48right this is this is heresy in fact cain is held up
9:53as one of the three archetypes of false teachers within the christian church the three again are kane balaam and korah
10:02korra is the guy who rejects the biblical offices that god has established in the church
10:07cain is the guy who has religious activity no faith he goes through the motions
10:13expecting that just by showing up and doing the thing putting some money in the plate saying a prayer repeating after me when they’re supposed
10:20to repeat after me and doing the thing that somehow that will make him acceptable to god and then balaam of
10:26course is the prophet for profit he’ll you know give him the right amount of money and he’ll conjure up the right
10:31blessing or curse that you need regardless of what the need is and all that being said those are your three
10:37archetypes so cain does not have faith and it says this the lord yahweh he had
10:43regard and watched the order he had regard for abel and his offering which means by faith as
10:52hebrews lays out by faith god had regard for abel abel
10:57had faith he was commended as pleasing god and declared righteous by the fact that god accepted his sacrifice
11:05cain on the other hand god had no regard for cain nor his offering because cain doesn’t
11:11have faith so kane being humiliated by the entire ordeal bears a grudge against
11:17his brother murders him puts him in the ground god comes looking for him and
11:22says where is your brother and he says i don’t know am i my brother’s keeper and listen to the
11:29contempt that he has for god in that in that in that response i don’t know am i my brother’s keeper if i had ever spoken
11:35that way to my mother my head would still be spinning today okay so what does god do with such an
11:42insolent and murderous man as cain who is clearly not up to snuff in whom he is
11:48not well pleased at all well yet this is where it gets interesting god has mercy
11:54on cain now granted cain now has to experience temporal consequences due to
12:00his lack of faith due to his murdering of his brother the ground will no longer
12:06yield its strength to him and when he plants crops every single one of them would fail i wonder if i still am under
12:12this curse myself but i digress but all of that being said
12:20he recognizes now that he’s in deep trouble and god has turned him into a wanderer on the earth and he’s concerned
12:27that if anybody should find him that they would end up murdering him in as a
12:33means of basically vindicating god and vindicating abel right
12:38and so god hears his concern and does something quite interesting he marks cain
12:45mercifully despite his sin cain is marked and the mark then is the
12:51thing that will protect him from experiencing murder himself he doesn’t
12:56deserve this god has had mercy on him and one of the things i love over and again when i see lutheran sermons on
13:04this text everybody who preaches on it sees a connection to baptism
13:10all right it’s kind of an interesting thing because in our baptisms we were marked with the name of god we were
13:16baptized in the name of the father and the son and the holy spirit and despite the fact that we do not deserve life
13:24we do not deserve to be preserved god preserves us and marks us with his very
13:30name so that we do not have to experience well eternal
13:35death it’s kind of a fascinating connection so you’ll note when we talk about the topic of faith cain had
13:42none but then there’s malformed faith faith in the wrong thing and unfortunately
13:50well we’ve all either been guilty of this in one degree or another or we’ve
13:55gone to church with somebody who is just like what we see next we turn now to our gospel text and the parable of the
14:02pharisee and the tax collector and jesus here’s how the text begins jesus told this parable to some who trusted in
14:09themselves well that’s a poorly formed faith the person who trusts in himself trusts in a
14:17fool they trusted in themselves that they were righteous not only they trust in
14:22themselves they trusted that they were perfectly good that they were totally righteous that they had done the stuff
14:28necessary to get on god’s good side they were trusting in their own righteousness
14:34in their own works in their good deeds and of course the self-righteous always have this problem they treat others with
14:42contempt yeah you’re familiar with dana carvey’s
14:47church lady right we’ve all gone to church with her could it be satan right this is what we’re talking about here
14:54right this judgmental person who says well i don’t drink i don’t smoke i don’t chew i cannot believe that people could
15:00call themselves christians and do those things i just i have gotten my act together and me and jesus were tight
15:07right this is how they talk and if you want to be tight with jesus you got to start following my example
15:14oh right this is a malformed faith and trust in
15:20completely the wrong thing this person has faith for sure but not
15:27saving faith not faith in christ so as the story goes two men went up into the
15:32temple to pray one a pharisee the other a tax collector i love the fact that to the audience
15:38that was there when jesus first told this parable that the way they would have heard this
15:44the setup ah pharisee good guy tax collector
15:49bad guy and you know you can almost hear them hissing when jesus said there was a pharisee ah way to go pharisee a tax
15:56collector boo hiss ha right you could just hear that you know that everybody knows how this is
16:02supposed to go and so jesus describes what’s taking place a pharisee standing by himself
16:08prayed i always like to point this out i’ll keep doing it because the repetition helps us what time of day
16:15is this this is very specific hour of the day and the hour is three in the
16:20afternoon if you look in your mosaic covenant you note that on a daily basis there are two there are two sacrifices
16:28there’s the sacrifice in the morning and there’s a sacrifice in the afternoon first sacrifice is at nine a.m
16:35second sacrifice is at 3 p.m and this is the 3 p.m hour of the sacrifice as well
16:42as the hour of prayer and people would gather in the temple in the inner court there for the purpose of well witnessing
16:49the sacrifice and also praying as the psalmist says let my prayers rise before you as
16:56incense the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice right
17:02so this is what’s going on and you’ll note there’s blood involved and it’s got to be a somber kind of thing that has to
17:09be watched here so out comes the sacrificial lamb and you can hear it bleeding ba
17:17and the priest pulls out his knife and the bleeding stops and the bleeding begins
17:24right without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins this is the
17:30context and in the middle of that while the evening sacrifice is being offered
17:36the pharisee prays this outrageous prayer
17:42and every time i read this prayer i always hear it in my head in the voice of joel osteen it’s the craziest thing
17:49and so you know let me let me see if i can get the voices out of my head here god i thank you that i’m not like other
17:55men extortioners the unjust adulterers or even like that tax collector i fast
18:01twice a week i give tithes of all that i get you can just see them say i am the head and i’m not the tail i am rich i am
18:08wealthy i am wise i am righteous i am woo praise me
18:13right what on earth is that
18:18yeah is that any different than joel osteen’s affirmation theology where you stand in front of a mirror and declare
18:25how amazing you are there is no difference none whatsoever
18:32and here’s the thing to the audience listening at this time they would have said yep that’s the right way to pray man those pharisees they have every
18:38right to be praying that way fast twice a week ties everything that he get there’s a tax collector boo hiss
18:45go away standing far off you’re not far enough away right you shouldn’t even be in the
18:50temple standing far off he wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven something has gotten into this
18:57fellow maybe the law of god the holy spirit is convicted of a sin of his
19:02greed of the different ways in which he slowly murdered his own well countrymen
19:09by siding with the romans and extorting from them every single denarius that he could
19:16squeeze out of them so that they lived in squalor while he lived in luxury and the word of god has gotten into him and
19:22convicted him of his wickedness so without even being able to look up to heaven he prays
19:30god be merciful to me a sinner and the greek verb here for
19:36be merciful is a word that really is invoking the the uh the the sacrifice
19:43that is being killed at this time it’s an interesting word altogether very interesting verb it
19:49means god may you be expiated towards me expiation involves sacrifice so what’s
19:56he doing he’s pointing to the sacrifice on the altar and roseboro’s paraphrase would be
20:02god let that sacrifice be for my sin that’s the point
20:08right so jesus then does the old switcheroo
20:14the good guy now becomes the bad guy the bad guy becomes the good guy that’s the scandal of the gospel i tell you this
20:20man went down to his house justified talking about the tax collector justified declared not guilty by god
20:28rather than the other and here comes the punch everyone who exalts himself will be
20:34humbled the one who humbles himself will be exalted a proper christian faith does not look
20:42to itself it does not look to its good works which christ has prepared for us
20:47to do it does not look to its obedience its piety or anything else and whole in
20:54the hopes that that is what’s going to save the person that is a faith that will damn you
21:00because it is not saving faith the faith that trusts in christ and here’s the important bit
21:06christ is the one who is our sacrifice it is not a coincidence that the morning
21:12sacrifice was at 9 a.m and the evening sacrifice at 3 pm because when jesus
21:18took your sins and mine upon himself and suffered the wrath of god in our place
21:24his nailing to the cross occurred at nine in the morning his breathing of his last
21:30where he cried out my god my god why have you forsaken me and he cries out it is finished and he
21:37yields up his spirit that occurred at three in the afternoon it is not a coincidence god knows what he’s doing
21:44jesus is the one who is the righteous one of god he is the spotless lamb of god who takes away the sin of the world
21:51the one who trusts in himself that he is righteous is blind and is self-deceived
21:57and his faith is not on the proper thing the late dr norman nagle of the
22:03concordia theological seminary in saint louis who was a mentor of one of my pastors he always used to describe faith
22:10as eyesight eyesight faith always has to look at something what is your faith
22:15looking to is it looking to your progress is it looking to your wallet is it looking to well just name the thing
22:22if it’s anything other than your crucified and risen savior who has bled and died for all of your sins and gives
22:28you salvation completely as a gift your faith is in the wrong thing you’re going
22:34the wrong way i always loved that movie planes trains and automobiles right and there’s
22:42john candy and steve martin driving on the wrong side of the road in a car that had been set on fire the night before
22:49right it actually hadn’t been set on fire they’re going down the wrong road and there’s some people going you’re
22:55going the wrong way you’re going the wrong way how do they even know where we’re going right
23:01it’s a great scene and so i’m here as that person on the other side of the road while you’re
23:07merrily driving to your doom you’re going the wrong way
23:13turn around do not trust in yourself you cannot save you your righteousness
23:19cannot save you only the righteousness of christ can save you
23:24your condition is far worse than you can possibly imagine you are not a good
23:30person you and me alike we are all ungodly to trust in ourselves is to forfeit
23:37eternity and to declare ourselves unworth unworthy of the gift of eternal
23:42life so in our ephesians text it puts a wonderful bow on all of this
23:48paul in his great summary of the christian faith reminds us christians where we all began
23:54and he says this in ephesians 2 1 you were dead in the trespasses and sins
24:00in which you once walked following the course of this world following the prince of the power of the air the
24:05spirit is now at work and the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh
24:11carrying out the desires of the body and the mind and we were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind
24:19it does not paint a good picture of humanity here humanity is not a bunch of people who are born morally neutral or
24:26basically good we are all born and conceived dead in
24:31trespasses and sins and you’ll note i this is not a knock on anybody in the cemetery over here in our graveyard but
24:39i have i can guarantee you that nobody in our cemetery right now is improving
24:45okay their situation is not getting any better right in fact i would say things are
24:51decaying out there right dead is dead and dead doesn’t get better dead gets worse we don’t hold evangelism
24:58sunday for the dead we don’t sell self-help books to the dead the dead can’t do stuff they don’t get better
25:06and you cannot get better either and so we’ve got to take this into consideration here
25:11this text reveals something very important to us the question of where
25:17does faith come from we’ve heard a lot of people talk in terms like this and maybe you’ve used
25:23language like this but it’s wrong somebody will say i have i have put my faith in jesus
25:32no you did not it is impossible for the dead to put
25:38their faith in jesus the dead are dead it is a denial of the doctrine of
25:44original sin it is a denial of this passage it is a denial of the text where
25:49where david says in sin did my mother conceive me because that’s what is true of all of us each and every one of us
25:57were born under the dominion of darkness we were dead we carried out the passions of our flesh and we were under the
26:04dominion and rule of satan himself and we are not capable of extricating
26:10ourselves from this situation your good works your efforts your
26:16prayers your piety your kneeling it doesn’t matter what you do you cannot
26:21get yourself out of this dead is dead and then the big turn here comes in
26:27verse 4 with the words but god god here the word god theos is in
26:34the nominative it means it’s the subject of the sentence and there are three verbs that follow and god is doing all
26:41the doing not you not me not nobody else god being rich in mercy i love the
26:46modifier rich god isn’t chintzy when it comes to mercy because of the great love that he had make us love great love that
26:54with he he had for us god doesn’t love us just a little bit he loves us a lot no no it’s great it’s
27:00beyond what you can even imagine because of the great love with which he loved us
27:05he even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins god is the one who
27:11made us alive together with christ when did he do that
27:16hmm i don’t know it sounds baptismal to me if you think about it because what does
27:22romans 6 say when you were baptized you were buried with christ and you were
27:27what raised with christ and so i would note that this particular verb really only
27:33appears one of the time in antiquity and that’s in the book of colossians god made us alive together with christ
27:41this is a baptismal reference and by grace you have been saved and he raised
27:47us up with him that’s your next verb raised us up and seated us with him god
27:53made us alive raised us up seated us with christ he’s doing the doing he is
27:59the one who wills not you not me he’s the one who made us alive not you not me
28:04he’s the one who even gave us faith and he did all of this so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable
28:11riches of his grace in kindness towards us in christ jesus
28:16i love that that part of the reason why he did this is so that he can show even
28:22more riches of his grace in the world to come you think you’ve experienced god’s grace
28:28now wait until you see what’s coming god’s intent is to really kind of pour
28:33it on thick in the grace and the mercy and the love department in the world to come and if you’ve ever heard somebody say
28:40well the reason why jesus died on the cross was because you were so worth it
28:45that person’s lying to you it’s just nonsense okay romans 3 makes it clear that all of us
28:53have sinned all of us have become worth less in fact if you believe that the reason
28:58why jesus died was because you were worth it then you’re still worshiping yourself
29:04rather than your great savior who saved you so here’s the question then where does faith come from the text explains
29:12it verse 8 a verse that many of you probably have memorized for by grace you
29:18have been saved through faith this is your is not your own doing it is the
29:23gift of god and i would note there is some regularity with which i get asked a very specific question regarding this
29:30passage and it’ll usually come in as an email it goes to the email to secretary my wife fields the
29:36email and says so and so is having has a question about ephesians chapter 2 verse 8. they said that in the text it says it
29:44is not the gift it is it is not the result of works it is the gift of god and they want to know what it is
29:50okay what is it that’s a good question and i have a pretty standard answer they so i call
29:56them up or talk to them on zoom and so we’ll work through the text and they say all right so here’s what it says by
30:01grace you have been saved through faith it’s not your own doing it’s the gift of god so which is it is it the grace
30:07is it the faith is it the salvation which is which is it
30:14yes yes the whole thing okay it’s a package deal it’s like one
30:21of those really cool gift bags you get at christmas or on your birthday where you reach in you got a gift in there
30:27it’s like oh this is cool but then the person says keep looking take the paper out oh look take a look
30:32the grace the salvation the faith itself is part of a gift you were dead so god
30:39made you alive and he gave you the faith that you have in christ it’s not the
30:45result of works so that no one can boast
30:51we then are god’s workmanship as christians and we are created in christ jesus
30:56for good works notice our good works do not create us in christ we are first
31:02created in christ jesus and what do christians do they do good works because they’re christians if you’re doing your
31:07good works in the hope that someday someday you might be able to finally become a christian you’ll never get
31:15there your good works cannot save you and god has prepared all of this beforehand that we should walk in them
31:21so as we consider the topic of faith you’ll note cain had none and you’ll note the pharisee had all
31:28kinds of faith but it was in the totally wrong thing and so as we consider again this idea of faith come
31:35back to your baptismal reality come back to the truth that god has gifted you he’s made you alive in christ he seated
31:42you with christ he is the one who has raised us from the dead and given us the
31:47gift of faith and true saving faith has its eyes focused only on one
31:53jesus christ our lord and savior who mercifully because of his great love for us
31:59offered up his own life so that we can live he died in our place suffered the
32:05wrath of god in our place so that we would never have to suffer the wrath of god he is the righteous one you are the
32:11unrighteous one he is taken your unrighteousness and iniquity so that you
32:16can now be righteous before him and clothe you with his righteousness all as a gift
32:22so faith matters so here’s the question who do you believe who do you trust for
32:29your salvation christ yourself shiva vishnu your money or whatever
32:35who you believe in matters their salvation only in christ in the name of jesus amen
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