Archive for the ‘1 Corinthians 12:12-30’ Category

Anointed for Revival!

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Epiphany 3C, January 27, 2013
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA

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“And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.” [Nehemiah 8:3b]

Oh that this would be true not only this morning, but whenever a minister of the gospel and the saints of God share His Word with those  who are lost in sin and separated from their God of love!  But let’s not pray only that ears are attentive to the word, but hearts as well.    Let’s keep praying as a church that we would see the gift of faith go out from us and be received by our family, friends, and neighbors in  a way that a great revival of the church will appear before our very eyes.

Let’s pray for this revival, not so that our pews and the offering plate will be full, but so that the kingdom of God grows and the kingdom  of the devil diminishes.  Let’s pray for this great revival so that those who are blind to God’s presence would be allowed to see His  power.  Let’s pray, that God would allow the spiritually blind and deaf to see and hear His real presence among us and receive His  forgiving love.  Because when that happens, when His Word is received, our family, friends, and neighbors, who are being held in the  bondage of sin, death, and the devil will be freed and the kingdom of God will advance, one forgiven sinner at a time.

Yes, let’s pray for a revival, but before we do, let’s understand that this revival can only come through God’s anointing!

In our Old Testament reading (Nehemiah 8:1–10), we see this very thing happening among God’s people who were gathered on the tenth day of the seventh month, a festival commanded by God to celebrate His presence and forgiveness.  The people of God had been released from the bondage of foreign oppressors and had recently returned to their homeland.  It had been many generations since the people gathered as one to worship their God; it had been just as many years since they gathered for the public proclamation of His Word.

As men and women and even children who could understand gathered and heard, something wonderful and mysterious began to happen to them… the Word of God began to speak to their hearts and they were able to listen and understand.  Please don’t miss this point, because it comes in two parts, listening and understanding.  The ears can always hear but in order to listen, well this requires a certain gift from God.  It requires wisdom and understanding, which are words that are synonymous with faith.  And faith is always a gift from God that comes through the hearing of His Word and the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

So you could certainly say that that the Holy Spirit was present among His people that day.  He caused the spiritually blind and deaf to see and hear, and through His Word He set His people free from spiritual captivity, just as He set them free from physical captivity earlier.

And what was the people’s response?  Well, they wept because God, through His Law showed them their sin; He showed them their lack of love and their self-serving hearts.  But God would not allow them to stay in this valley of death, which the Law had spoken into their hearts; no, you see, He also spoke the gospel, the good news that their sins had been forgiven, and they were free to be the people of God.

All of this wonderful work of redemption took place simply through the proclamation of the Law and Gospel of Jehovah-God.

Oh that this would still happen today; that it would happen here among us!  Do we as a church still have hope of that that kind of revival will take place among us?  Yes, and again I say yes, but it only happens according to God’s means and according to His will.

In our Gospel reading (Luke 4:16–30), Jesus shows us both the will of His Father and the mission of the church, that is, He shows us our mission.  As He stood up and preached in a synagogue in Nazareth he read these Words of the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.  And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”” [Luke 4:18-21]

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Him… He has been anointed to proclaim the good news.  The proclamation of this good news is nothing less than the very power of God that comes through the Word of God; both law and gospel.  But this proclamation is not about a thing, but about a person… the Messiah, the very Son of God, Jesus Himself.

In His baptism the Spirit of the Lord descended upon Jesus and the voice of the Father declared Him to be His only begotten Son.  After His baptism He went immediately out into the world, into the wilderness and was tempted in ways we could never fathom, and yet just as before this wilderness experience, He never faltered and He never failed to please His Father; that is He never sinned.

He went out proclaiming forgiveness of sins through the anointing of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit.  He proclaimed that God would redeem His people; God alone would atone for their sins.  And how was He received?  Well in our gospel lesson, we discover that even the good people of Nazareth, His home town wanted to throw Him off a cliff; they wanted Him dead.

And so is the desire of all sinners who will not hear; who will not be baptized into His name.  But amazingly, that was also the will of God; it was the will of Jesus that eventually He would not mysteriously pass through their presence, but He would allow them to arrest Him and crucify Him simply for speaking the truth and proclaiming the forgiving love of His Father.  It had to be that way, you see…

Jesus was anointed to suffer and die for your sins so that you would not have to; He was anointed to bring you back to your Creator and make you right with Him.  In your baptism, you too have experienced the descending of the Holy Spirit, and He has been content to exist within you.  In your baptism, the fruit of the cross, which is the forgiveness of sins, has been made your personal gift, and you have been redeemed and sanctified.  But you have been sanctified for a purpose, and this is where we can say, you have been anointed!  You have been anointed with a purpose, but what purpose?  So that you can become part of the many that are one!

We are the church.  We are many sinners saved by God’s anointing through the washing of the water and the Word, yet we are one, the body of Jesus Christ.  Each of us, on our own are foreign and hostile to God, and yet through the preaching of His Word He gathers us together, shows us our sin and then assures us that through His Son He has forgiven us; He has opened our eyes to see and our ears to hear that we have been redeemed.

Now this alone would be enough to bring us peace, but He doesn’t stop there.  No, you see, He also tells us that we have a purpose… a mission.  We are to allow Him to sanctify our time, talents, and treasure, that is we are to allow Him to bless all the gifts He’s given to us so that we can be a blessing to His body, the church, that is each other, and then to the world.

You see, God’s forgiving love is not only for us, but for them.  You know who “them” are don’t you?  They are “those people,” the ones that you once were a part of.  They are blind and deaf to God’s will and His love.  They are the unlovable.  But they are also dear and precious to Him just as you are.  They are part of that world that God so loved that He gave His only begotten Son upon the cross for, all so that “they” would not die in their sins, but believe and be saved.

Many years ago in the south, during the depression, an elderly black man knocked on the door of a southern mansion.  An equally elderly white man, the owner of that estate answered the door.  The black man was begging for food, because he was alone and hungry.  The owner told the beggar to go around to the back door, which was socially proper at the time, because of his color and status.  He assured him that he would meet him there and help him.

The old rich man met the old beggar at the back door, with a piece of bread, and said that they must say grace over this gift from God.  He said, “Now repeat after me, ‘Our Father…”  The beggar said, “Your Father…”  The rich man asked the poor man, “Why do you insist on saying, ‘Your Father, when I keep telling you to say ‘Our Father?’  The beggar answered, “Well, boss, if I say ‘Our Father,’ that would make you and me brothers, and I’m ‘fraid the Lord wouldn’t like it, you makin’ your brother come to the back porch to get a piece of bread.”

Dear friends, in our baptism, we have been anointed to both celebrate God’s forgiving love and to share it.  We are not to discriminate in any way who hears that or who we will receive as part of our congregation, after they believe.  We are simply to speak and to become all that God has willed.

Now it’s true, that as we go out proclaiming this message of forgiveness and inviting those who hear it into our congregation, the kingdom of God will grow; and it is also true that this place will be loaded with sinners; sinners that can bring a self-serving spirit of confusion that can cause division.  But the solution to this problem doesn’t rest with us, but with the same God that is anointing and reviving sinners.  It is the same solution that we gather to receive every day.  It is the same solution God used long ago among His people in our old testament lesson.  It is His Word.  His Word of Law and Gospel; repentance and forgiveness.  It is the message about His Son and it is a message about you and me, and even a message about them, “those people” who also need a Savior.

May God continue to use us and forgive us so that others can be forgiven and use to bring this same message.  And together, may we see that we have been anointed for a revival.  I ask this in Jesus name… AMEN!

One Baptism!

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

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Rev. Brian Henderson-Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
Friday Night Gospel Celebration,April 15, 2011

NOTE: There is no written text for this sermon.  Please click this link to hear the message.

One Body with Many Members (1 Corinthians 12:12-29)

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves [4] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, [5] yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

One Baptism—One Body!

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” [1 Corinthians 12:13b]
Rev. Brian Henderson—Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church of San Diego, CA
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INTORDUCTION: First Corinthians is a letter from St. Paul to a church that God created out of nothing in a pagan city called Corinth.  In this letter, Paul continually reminds the Corinthians that they need to strive for unity within the body of Christ (12:12). In other words, there is only one body and one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism [12:4 ff., 13]. And yet, Paul has discovered the very opposite is true in their church!  Instead of unity, there are divisions and factions.  Paul’s intention then, is to unite these factions and remove the confusion that’s been caused by bad doctrine.  If they will listen and follow God’s Word then God will unite them! God unites the Corinthians the same way he unites us, by reminding us of our baptism.  A baptism, which reminds us that while we may be many members, we are but one body—while we may be many congregations, we are but one Church!

I. (vs. 12-13) Friends, Christ’s church, our church, is like the human body.  Let’s consider the human body for a moment.  Within our bodies we see the very picture of unity and completeness through a lot of individual parts. Now, this is also true with Christ’s body, the Church. To illustrate this truth, Paul begins with the oneness of the body and then to its many parts through these words: “the body is one and has many members”; he then goes backward from the many parts to the oneness of the whole by saying: “and all the members of the body, being many, are one body.” And throughout Christ’s body, He is always present and active in each one of us—He is throughout the whole body!  How?  Through God’s mysterious work in our own baptism.

In Holy Baptism friends, each one of us was baptized “in” one Spirit, in union with Jesus.  Our baptism is a vital connection with him. In our baptism, God’s Spirit is always present and always making a spiritual change within us—a change, which creates a new spiritual life within us and maintains a right spiritual relationship with God and other members of His Church.  This mystical union of Christ with the church friends is our true union with God, and it is a union that is identically sustained within each of us through Christ’s own Word and sacraments. 

Now, think about what this truth must have meant to the Corinthian church, and then think about what it means for Trinity.  “Jews are equal to pagan Greeks?”  Friends, do you see how in Christ’s body… the Church, all extremes of the human race have been drawn together into Christ and then melted and fused together into one indistinguishable whole? What was lower than a slave, human property with almost no rights? Yet Paul is telling those rich cats and property owners, many of who owned slaves that they are their equals! Christ is in their slaves just as he is in them… they are one!  It’s quite the wakeup call isn’t it?  The same is true with us friends; through our baptism, we are one with the butcher, the baker, the president, the junkie, the homeless, the parent and the child.  People of all races and back grounds, through their baptisms are “one body” just like the physical human body. 

Now with this central truth stated about our physical bodies and the church, think of how preposterous it would be for a toe no longer wanting to be part of the foot, or an eye thinking that it is better than the ear.  We need all of our body parts to function the way God designed them so that we can have a complete and healthy body, and this is also the truth with Christ’s body the church! 

II. (Vs. 14-20) So why do some members of Christ’s Church feel inferior and jealous of others if all of us are baptized into the same body?  To answer this question, let’s first go back to Paul’s illustration of the human body.  Why does the ear say, “Because I am not an eye, I’m not important so that must mean that I’m not really part of the body?”  Does the ears feeling change the fact that it is truly part of the body?  All of its gripping won’t change a thing. It’s not only useless; it’s foolish, because the body can’t be just one member!  We need each member because each member has its own function. Wouldn’t it be foolish if the foot tried to grasp something or shake hands with somebody when it’s real purpose is to help the body walk and move from one place to another?  The same is true about an ear that wants to be an eye when the body really needs it for hearing.  This unity in diversity friends is what makes the body whole and functioning.  Instead of complaining about what it isn’t each part should celebrate what it is, because without each part, the body wouldn’t be whole.  This is also true about each member of Christ’s church and our congregation. Suppose a member were actually what these complainers say: not a part of Christ’s body—well what would it be? Jesus answered this question clearly; He said it would be a dead branch, fit only to be burned. Dear friends, instead of wishing we were someone else or something “better,” we should thank God for the place he has assigned to us and then work with the Holy Spirit to do our part not only expertly but also joyfully!

Don’t you think that all of this jealousy and envy is foolishness?  After all, wasn’t it “God (who) arranged (all of) the members in the body, each one of them, (just) as He chose(?) (If each of us were the same member), where would the body be?  (So, we see friends), there are many parts, yet one body.” [vs. 18-20]   All of this is part of God’s divine work of creation!  He did it all according to His will when He formed the human body and when He created His church!   He desired that both bodies would consist of many members. Each one He set into its perfect place within the body. Do we really want to find fault with what God did? Do we really have the audacity to think that we can improve on His work? Well, the fact stands: God made the true Church what it is and He made you as you are for a purpose… now we must live out that purpose as He leads us! 

III. (Vs. 21-26) Ok, but then why do some people act like they’re superior or better than others?  Or as Paul says, “Why does the eye say to the hand, “I don’t need you,” or the head to the feet, “Go away, you’re not needed”?  Why indeed and here we go again!  Once again there’s grumbling within the body; but this time it’s a different kind of grumbling.  Now it’s the eye and the head’s turn to voice their sinful feelings, each looking down on a different body part and thinking that they are superior to them.  One looks down on the hand, and the other is looking down on the feet.  What’s going on here?  There seems to be trouble throughout the body!  And this is what Paul is saying about the church at Corinth.  And so we see him expertly using God’s law to attack their habit of looking down on others. 

Let me ask you a question: When are we more likely to look down on others?   I think the answer is when we think that they’re not in our class!  Social status, education, health, and many other conditions fuel our disdain for others!  We’re inclined to look down on others when we feel that their talents or position seems lower than our own. To illustrate this, Paul lets the eye and the head speak. Now, because the eye is able to reach out to great distances it looks down on the hand which can only grasp what is in arms reach. And because the head is placed so high above all of the other members, it is prone to look down with disdain on the feet, which are dutifully plodding away on the hard and dirty streets below! So you see, those who have been given what seems to be greater gifts and talents might be tempted to foolishly think that they don’t need those who have what appears to be inferior gifts and talents, but in reality, once again each of us must remember that we are not individuals but part of a whole.  What each part has is only part of the whole body… a body designed by our Creator! 

But what about our more humble parishioners; the very old, the sick, and the disabled?  Paul compares them with our private body parts; the ones we keep hidden—the parts that we might be ashamed of?  Listen to what he says: “And on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” [vs. 23-26]

ILLUSTRATION (Please listen to the audio attached with this message to hear the illustration)

Dear friends, when I think about my Aunt Dianne and her little church, I can’t help but wonder if we as a congregation demonstrate the same interest and care for our weaker members.  I hope that we do, don’t you?

God will help us do this very thing if we will remember that it was the Creator who put all of us in our proper place within His Church and within this congregation!  But what if we are having problems living out this truth? 

IV. (Vs. 25-30) What’s the solution? How are we to be saved from these terrible sins that divide us?  Well friends, God does this very thing by taking us back to our own baptism—back to the truth of our equal standing as sinners before God.  He takes us and back His Word, which promises and gives forgiveness; a word that reminds us that each of us, as members of God’s church, are equally loved by Him.  And friends, God wants us to demonstrate that same love and care to others who are also members of His church.  With His Holy Spirit living within us, He reminds us that if one of us suffers, then all of us suffer together; if one member is honored, then all of us will celebrate together.

Let’s look to our own bodies one more time to illustrate this truth: If our foot is in pain, even if it’s the little toe, won’t our eye immediately look to see what’s wrong?  And won’t we use our fingers to hold it and caress it, as our face twists in pain and our whole body bends over to assist in its care?  And as the entire body is caring for this one ailing part, the entire body is benefited when the pain is soothed!  

Dear friends, isn’t it a blessing to be part of a body where “if one member suffers, all members suffer together, and if one member is honored, all members rejoice together?”

CONCLUSION: Rejoice dear friends in the truth that Christ’s suffering and death upon the cross was equally given to each of us within the waters of our own baptism—for you see it is the same sin that was covered, but more than covered, it was the same sin that was drowned and destroyed.  It is that same sin that equally drives each of us to the font with the same need and the same identity… beggars in need of God’s grace.  And as we remember this truth let’s also rejoice together in yet another truth…He is still giving us that same grace through His Word and His Holy Supper!  Praise God dear friends!  Praise Him all creatures here below.  Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost…AMEN!