Archive for May 22nd, 2011

Be Ye Holy!

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor-Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
Easter 5A, May 22, 2011
Sorry, no audio for this message.

This morning our message comes to us from our Epistle lesson (1 Pet. 2:2-10), but before we can understand what God is saying to us through St. Peter we have to go back to the first chapter of the same epistle; specifically we want to go back and start with these words found in verses 15 and 16 in the first chapter.  Listen: “As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “(Be ye) holy, for I am holy.”  Now is this law or gospel?  Well the answer depends on who you are, or rather where you are with God.  And just like our message this morning, we have to go backwards into our lives to get the answer.

In the beginning portion of our lesson, St. Peter says that we are like new born babies, longing for the pure spiritual milk that matures or grows us up into salvation.  What is this milk?  Well, it is nothing other than the pure Word of God!  The same Word that was given to you in your baptism and is offered to you every day in your Bibles; that is God’s spiritual milk!  In these things you have already experienced the Lord’s presence in your life; you have tasted the Lord!  So here is another question: Is He good?  Do you like the flavor and the strength that He gives you in His Word?  If you do, then St. Peter would tell you that you are Holy, so keep on being holy!  How?  By continually tasting the Lord and seeing that He is good through the studying of and resting in His Word and Sacraments!  Keep hearing and reading that God so loved you that He sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to suffer and die upon the cross for you!  Why did He do this?  So that you might be able to not only taste and see that the Lord is good, but so that you might have an abundant, full, and meaningful life!  As an infant hungers for the milk of its mother, so too do we need our Lord’s Word!  And because of this spiritual milk, you are holy!

You are holy!  Listen, don’t worry about your past or even your future.  Don’t worry about what you may have done or failed to do before, but concentrate on who you are today… you are holy!  This isn’t something you need to do; if it was you already know that you would be anything but holy; no this is entirely the work of God, and that is good, because in that way none of us can brag about what we did or do, instead we can give God all of the gory!  And how do we give Him glory?  Well Peter answers that question for us in verse 4, we keep coming to Him, a living stone rejected by men in the sight of God chosen and precious!  Who is this living stone?  It is the living Word of God Jesus Christ, and we keep coming to Him when we read His Word, gather to hear it preached, remember our baptism, and when we come to His Holy table to be served a meal of forgiveness!  When we do these things we ourselves as St. Peter says in verse 5 are “like living stones being built up as a spiritual house”.  Dear friends, this spiritual house is nothing less than the body of Christ, His holy gathered saints who are being preserved in a sinful time, in a sinful world as His own children! 

You know one of the most interesting questions that Christians ask a pastor is this: “What are we going to be doing in heaven?”  I smile at this question because in it I see the old sinful nature of this person fighting viciously to survive.  The clue comes in one word that is contained in that question, “DO!”  Do, do, do; that is always the desire of the old sinful nature that has been crucified with Christ, and drowned in the holy waters of baptism!  No free lunches for that dead flesh; it wants to earn everything and be catered to as its reward!  But dear saints, that is the wrong question to ask; instead we should learn to ask, “Who will I BE in heaven?”  And the answer is that you will be the same person in heaven that you are on earth; you will Holy!  Or as Peter continues to explain in verse 5, you will be “a holy priesthood, offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ!”

What are those spiritual sacrifices?  Well, in Hebrews 13 we are told that through Christ we will, “keep offering up sacrifices of praise constantly to God, that is, the fruit of our lips confessing His name.” [Heb. 13:15]  Then in Romans 12 we are asked to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice, which is well pleasing to God.” [Rom 12:1]  Then in the fourth chapter of Philippians we are told that our prayer and praise are a “sweet fragrance, a sacrifice acceptable and well pleasing to God.”  And in the eighth chapter of Revelations we are told that “the prayers of all of the saints, the holy children of God are upon the golden altar before His throne!  These sacrifices are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ because they are given in His name, for His honor and glory! 

So you see, the very same things that you are empowered to do here in this sinful world are the things you will do there, accept now we do them imperfectly because we still live in an sinful world and struggle every day to put to death our sinful nature.  Here we remember that everything we have is really Gods, even our money!  So we give it eagerly and liberally along with our time and talent as a sacrifice of praise unto our God!  But why do we give ourselves to God?  Because we are His holy ones who live in His kingdom, and everything we do is for Him!  So we see, even now as we struggle against our old sinful nature we are holy, but not yet perfect; soon in heaven, when we finally are free of our sinful flesh we will experience what God has declared us to be; holy, perfect, and righteous!  This is the work of God alone and it is marvelous in our sight!  But for now, we simply continue becoming what He has said we are; we continue being holy!  And how do we do that?  By resting upon Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith!  Or as St. Peter says, we as living stones learn to rest upon our Cornerstone.

ILLUST: A long time ago, there was stone offered up by God and all men were asked to build upon this great stone as their cornerstone.  God assured them that if they built upon this stone, they would have a house of worship that could never be moved.  But the builders examined that stone, and collectively and continually rejected it as inferior!  They had other stones that could better serve “their” purposes for building.  So the stone of God sat discarded for centuries, rejected and even afflicted by the sinful builders.  Their great building was complete; it was a giant temple that was said to be the very inhabitation of God!  Many people gathered to admire the temple and worship a god that they had created in their own image.  But one day, God caused that rejected stone that should have been the corner stone, to come alive among them!  The Living Stone warned the builders that their house was not pleasing to God and it would not stand the test that God was bringing.  He implored them to abandon their house of worship and build a new one upon Him!  He explained to them that only by aligning all of the other stones upon Him and using the mortar of faith would they be able to find a structure pleasing enough to God so that He would allow His Spirit to live among them!

Dear friends, Jesus IS the Cornerstone that was rejected by a people who were once God’s people but no longer!  Not only did God reject them as a people, but He destroyed their temple of worship; He destroyed it because it was built on a stone called pride.  But in its place, He raised up a new temple, a temple of living stones held together by faith in the true Cornerstone, Jesus Christ!  We are His building, a holy temple, called out of darkness to light; we are His people, His true children, a holy nation of holy people!  We are living by faith and not by sight.  We are holy because we are resting upon the Holy Living Stone, Jesus Christ!

We are holy!  And as Peter says in verse 9, we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession!  We, His holy ones are like Him our Prophet, Priest, and King!  We are prophets, each of us because we are to speak His Word; we are priests because each of us are called to offer our entire selves as a living sacrifice unto God.  And we are kings because we are children of our Holy King, the living God!

Now it would be a terrible mistake if we were to think that after being given so much as holy children of the living God we could just sit back and take it all in; just contemplate our honor and our excellence!  No, it would be more than a mistake it would be a sin if we did that!  We were not created to be still and be served; we were created to be ever active and becoming what God created us to be.  And what is that?  We are to be His ambassadors, his prophets sent into the darkness of sin to speak light and salvation!  We are to announce the fame of the One who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light!  We are to offer up our spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ!  As living stones, we are to be used to ever build and expand the Kingdom of God!  We are kingdom builders!

True believers, true holy ones of God can’t keep still; they simply must speak out with their mouths, time, talent, and treasures, because that is what we were created for!  This is our calling as holy members of God’s royal priesthood.  We are here and not in heaven right now because God has given us a mission!  We are to go out into the darkness and bring light!  We are to go out to people who are trapped in the darkness of sin, and bring salvation to them.  Who are these people?  They are the very ones who rejected the great Cornerstone, Jesus Christ!  God sends us who once were not a people, sheep once without a shepherd but now sheep in His pasture to seek, find, and bring salvation to others who are far from God’s love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Right now, in their current condition, they are non-people in God’s eyes, but our great Cornerstone is still calling out to them; there is still time if they will turn to Him!  If they will turn to Christ they are promised that they will be a real people, part of God’s holy people, and He will be their King, Savior, Protector, Provider, and God!

So, be ye holy!  Be all that God has said that you are!  Rest upon your Cornerstone, the Word of God, but then be living and always serving Him by proclaiming the wonderful works of God.  Tell those lost what He has done for you; tell them how He alone saved you from sin, death, and the devil!  And then gather again in this house of worship to celebrate and receive every gift that our Living Cornerstone has to give to us!  May God continue to strengthen us for this wonderful mission that He has set before us.  I ask this in Jesus name… AMEN!