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Sermon on John 11

Jesus talks with Martha in John 11 (15 minutes):




Sermon from March 16

Here is the sermon I preached last weekend:




Devotional: Psalm 78

Devotional Psalm 78

This Psalm is a Maskil, which is a Psalm of instruction.  Some Psalms were prayers, others had liturgical applications.  Psalm 78 refers to the importance of instruction by instructing.

In our world, students are taught by rote memorization.  The better you memorize and can regurgitate facts, the better you will do in school.  This model begins in preschool and continues all the way through college.  By contrast, this method is not used past the 6th grade in Great Britain.

In ancient Israel, the Torah, or first five books of Moses, was the foundation for all of life in this world.

The Psalmist states that this is important stuff; that we should listen.  He tells us what he is going to teach starting in verse 2:

2I will open my mouth in a parable;

I will utter dark sayings from of old

Nothing is so intriguing as the unveiling of a mystery.  When I was a kid, we all watched while Geraldo Rivera opened a vault owned by Al Capone on live t.v.  There was nothing inside, but it was great television because of the anticipation from revealing a mystery.

Contrast the revelation of mystery to verse 3:

3things that we have heard and known,

that our fathers have told us.

Doesn’t it seem strange that the speaker in verse 2 is telling us he is going to reveal a mystery, and in verse 3 that we have heard and known it, and it is common knowledge?  Yet, this is the work of Philip as he speaks to the Ethiopian eunuch.  He reveals that Jesus is the Christ through Isaiah’s book.

We, too are called as future ministers of the Gospel to reveal the Christ hidden in the pages of the Old Testament.  We are called to teach as Christ did after his resurrection when he walked with the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself”.

Luther once said that Christ can be found on every page of Scripture.  That may be stretching it a little, but it is the Holy Spirit’s work to reveal Christ in the Old Testament.  Additionally, we have the New Testament, much of which is a commentary on the Old.  It helps us to see Christ as the New Adam.  Christ as Melchizedek.  Christ as a new Moses, leading us out of captivity.

And this is how the Old Testament is used as parable: The account of Moses leading Israel out of Egypt is not merely historical record.  It is a parable of how we have been rescued from the slavery of sin into the promised land through the waters of Baptism by Jesus.

My brothers and sister, we have been called to do this for God’s people.  To find Jesus, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in the Old Testament.

And, likewise, we can find the Torah in the New Testament.  Consider Hebrews.  The meaning of this book is greatly deepened by understanding the roles of a prophet, a priest and a king in the Old Testament.

There is an ongoing dialogue between these two testaments.  The thread that runs through both is Jesus Christ.

Begin with Moses.  Begin by reading the accounts of creation, promise to Abraham, exodus and David’s reign.  Read Hebrews simultaneously.  Draw comparisons.  See the contrasts.  Discover what Luther discovered, that there is more gospel in the Old Testament than in the New.  If and when you do, your sermons will fill the listeners with faith and rescue them from rote learning.

February 16, 2014 Sermon

February 16, 2014 Sermon

The Sermon I preached on February 16.


written by:

Chris Gallagher

Sermon Acts 10:34-43

    As Father Christmas proclaims,” Aslan is on the move!” In C.S. Lewis’ book The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe is a fictional story about four children that find a secret passageway through a wardrobe into a place called Narnia. In the world of Narnia it is always winter and never summer because the White Witch desires it that way. However, there’s a prophecy in which a lion, Aslan will eventually die and rise again and undo the spell forever.

    You see this story is not just a fictional story but contains several biblical allegories. Such as Narnia always being winter and never summer indicates that the world has been affected by sin. Always winter is our world today following Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God’s command not to partake of the fruit from the tree of life. Father Christmas, who announces that Aslan is on the move, is a fulfillment of prophecy concerning one who can break the spell. Father Christmas is a type of John the Baptist who announces the reign of the kingdom of God has begun in Christ’s baptism by John. Edmund one of the four children in Narnia has broken the covenant between Aslan and Narnia and must pay with his life. Just like us, “the wages of sin is death. However, Aslan decides to substitute himself for Edmund and voluntarily accepts death. Similarly, Christ substitutes himself on our behalf and became a propitiation for us. The White Witch thought that she had won the day, just like Satan did when Christ died. Surprisingly, there was a prophecy in Narnia about a “deep magic” and that Aslan came back to life and brought an army to defeat the White Witch. Through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, he defeated the world the flesh, and the devil. God looks at our sin no more because it’s been left in the tomb forever.

    On the move, John announces through Christ’s baptism that God’s reign in Christ has begun. God said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I’m well pleased.” Luke, regarding Peter, in our text for this morning writes,

               ‘you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: You know, that the reign of God in Christ has begun, you know of the miracles He performed to prove he is the Christ. You know that Christ did not need to be baptized because he was a sinner, he was perfect in all he said and did, but John baptized Christ to fulfill all righteousness, or in other words to fulfill all saving acts in Christ. A dove descended on Jesus confirming the announcement from heaven “this is my beloved Son in whom I’m well pleased “ but also the words of Isaiah echo, “Behold my servant, whom uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.

Christ is on the move; the reign of God in Christ has begun. You know 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. “ Jesus not only was anointed with the Spirit with power, he also spoke with authority. What he says is true. You know, you who were once enslaved and in bondage to your sin and sold into slavery under the spell of the wicked one, now have been set free from the bondage and slavery of sin into being a slave of righteousness, an adopted child of God, a royal priesthood to our King.

You know the disciples, “are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” Our hope is in the resurrection. The disciples here confirm that you know these things, that Christ bodily rose from the grave to raise us to new life in him. Even Christ’s enemies such as Jewish scholar Josephus and Roman scholar Tacitus confirm that his followers witnessed him after his death. Sometimes individually and sometimes in groups Christ appeared to his Apostles and disciples. If Christ hasn’t risen from the dead we’re still dead in our trespasses and sins. Our faith is the only one in history that is based on a historical claim that Jesus rose from the dead

This Deep Magic, Edmund, you and I needed to pay with our lives for our transgressions and sins, but God out of his great mercy and grace sent His only begotten Son on our behalf. What C.S. Lewis called “the Great Exchange,” Christ died for us, for you, and took upon your sins and mine to the grave and left them there for all eternity. We should have died a criminal’s death. Instead through our baptism, we did die only to be risen a new creation in Christ and to be forgiven and dwell in eternity with him forever.

You know, Christ, through this Deep Magic was raised from the dead Luke tells us that, “he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” John the Baptist’s message was one of repentance and the end-times judgment. He warns the Pharisees and Sadducees, “You brood of vipers, who warned you from the wrath to come?”

Later on in Matthew Jesus will send out his twelve disciples to preach the good news of the Gospel, those who believe they’re to stay a while and make disciples out of them, followers of Christ our King, who has begun his reign. To those who reject the message, the disciples were to dust off their feet and move on. These keys of the kingdom were given not only to the disciples to loose and bind here on earth but also to you. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

John the Baptist as Father Christmas announced the reign of God through Christ is at hand, right underneath your nose. This deep magic that sin had to be dealt with, Christ died for you to deliver you from death to life. Jesus didn’t have to be baptized in the sense of his disciples for the confession and washing of sins, but he fulfilled all righteousness.

Jesus in a sense instituted baptism for us. Through your baptism you’ve been crucified with cross and buried with him. Following your baptism you’ve been raised in his resurrection, made into a new creation in Christ. God’s promises, attached to water for you. Through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection he conquered sin, death, and the devil.

Also, as you’ll later experience a nourishing of your faith through the Lord’s Supper, “Take eat, this in my body broken for you. Take drink, this is my blood shed for you, for the remission of all of your sins”

Therefore this deep magic brought an ultimate thaw to where sin, death, and the devil would no longer hold their domain because Christ is on the move. The New Jerusalem will descend down from heaven, where creation will no longer groan, and we will dwell with God for all eternity. As the disciples were sent out with the keys of the kingdom, we too, have the power to preach the historical gospel to those who are perishing. He has risen; he has risen, indeed. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Judgment Day (?) sermon

What a beautiful tree.  It doesn’t seem to be missing anything.  Of course, if you’re a child, it’s missing the most important part, the gifts.  And, once we put the gifts under the tree, our children are expecting wonderful things.


Matthew 11 verses 2-6 will serve as our gospel portion for today.


  1. John the Baptist’s message and mission
    1. Matthew 3:11-12:

11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

  1.                                                                i.      People heard this message of impending judgment and came to be baptized to “get right before Judgment Day”
  2. This wasn’t John’s only mission, however
    1.                                                                i.      Jesus came to him to be baptized unexpectedly
      1. This was not a baptism of repentance of his sins
      2. It was the public anointing of a King, a “Christ-ing”
        1. It meant the Kingdom of God had come
        2. The Gospel of John reports that John the Baptist (a different John) saw the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus
          1. During this baptism, John proclaimed Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World.  He also said, “This is the Son of God”
    2. When John went to prison, though, it’s possible that John was wondering why the expected Judgment Day hadn’t started, “What’s the hold-up?”
  3. Jesus’ message and mission continues John’s:
    1. Matthew 5:17:

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

  1.                                                                i.      The foundation of the Law Jesus speaks of is the first commandment which states, ‘You shall have no other gods before me’
    1. Luther explains the meaning of this God’s expectation in the Small Catechism: ‘We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things’
  2. Who or what do you fear, love and trust?
    1. In other words, where do you find your identity, security and meaning in life?
      1.                                                                i.      Maybe it’s in personal morality.  Following the Law to the letter
        1. “If I behave well, I’ll be blessed”
          1. It requires a conception to crypt obedience
          2. Those who think they’re “pulling it off” become self-righteous and end up replacing Christ as Judge
      2.                                                              ii.      Maybe it’s getting power, position or prestige
        1. “If I get power, then I’ll have security in this life”
          1. Some who try to attain this see others as obstacles or opportunities to their own goals
          2. They spend their integrity as the trade for security replacing Christ as the true King who makes them secure
      3.                                                             iii.      Maybe it’s in wealth
        1. “The more I have, the more independent I am”
          1. Some who see money as the end are willing to sacrifice compassion for others
          2. They replace Christ as provider
    2. Others cannot do the same
      1.                                                                i.      Some feel morally defeated by sin which overcomes them
        1. “I can’t stop doing this, I feel guilty”
          1. Re-doubling their effort to be good, they find only despair and hopelessness
          2. They fear telling someone their dark secret
      2.                                                              ii.      Some feel like others have trampled over them to get to the top
      3.                                                             iii.      Some have an uncertain financial future
        1. due to a loss of work, injury, or unforeseen expenses
    3. None of these gods will give you the meaning, identity and security you long for
  3. Christ is the unexpected God who invades our world
    1. Christ is the wrathful Judge who became the Lamb of God
      1.                                                                i.      He is the mercy and forgiveness of God for you
      2.                                                              ii.      He forgives you all or your sin and mine over and over and over
      3.                                                             iii.      He has purified you, given you the Holy Spirit and anointed you as priests
    2. Christ is the King who has become your resurrection
      1.                                                                i.      He says to you now, “No one can snatch you out of my hand”
      2.                                                              ii.      Through your baptism, He has made you sons and daughters of the Living God
      3.                                                             iii.      One day, you will judge angels
    3. Christ is the Creator who provides for our needs
      1.                                                                i.      He feeds you His word, body and blood
      2.                                                              ii.      He owns the cattle on a thousand hills
      3.                                                             iii.      He has made us Co-heirs with Him of the Heavenly blessings even now
  4. And Jesus answers John’s disciples in an unexpected way, too
    1. Remember, John asked if He was the one who is to come or should we expect someone else
    2. Instead of telling them, “The Day of Judgment is coming, but later”, He confirms His position as the King anointed in the baptism John gave him at the Jordan.
    3. In effect, Jesus says, “I am the King.  You have heard and seen the miracles I have done”:
      1.                                                                i.      Blind men see again
      2.                                                              ii.      Lame men walk
      3.                                                             iii.      Lepers are cleansed
      4.                                                            iv.      Deaf men hear
      5.                                                              v.      Dead men are raised
      6.                                                            vi.      The poor have the gospel preached to them
  5. This is the scandalous God of good news
  6. Through His life, death and resurrection, we have been unexpectedly blessed!
    1. You and I have been forgiven all of our sin
    2. You have been set free from the bondage of idolatry
    3. You have become co-heirs with Christ of all the heavenly gifts
    4. You have been made a new creation
    5. You are the sons and daughters of the Living God through the execution of God’s Holy Son
    6. You are priests in God’s Kingdom anointed through baptism to speak the good news of the day of God’s favor
    7.   i.      All of these benefits are given because Judgment Day happened two thousand years ago on a cross outside of Jerusalem when Christ was nailed to a tree


  1. Perhaps you were not expecting this message today.  Consider it an early Christmas present from the King



To His Eternal Glory,



Tullian Tchividjian wrote a book called, “Jesus + Nothing = Everything”. I have taken a look at it on Amazon to see if it would be an interesting read. I began to look at the comments to see what others said about this book.

I looked at the lowest scores and saw that my former pastor, Michael Fabarez had critiqued the book. His criticism was a clear example of conflicting theologies. His comments attacked the type of sanctification Tullian proposed. Pastor Fabarez employed scriptural ‘proof texts’ to refute the non-‘biblical’ view of sanctification that Tullian was supporting.

To understand why Pastor Fabarez did this, one needs to explore the foundation of his thinking. He is completely invested in Lordship Salvation theology.

Lordship Salvation theology teaches that from beginning to end, our faith works synergistically with God’s grace in obedience so that we can be Holy Christians. The presupposition is that we have enough good in us to say yes to God by making a decision for Him. Our will has the ability to say yes to God. In fact, the human will is seen as a sort of ‘neutral agent’ or even a positive, sinless agent in relation to God. Thus, the synergy of human will and God’s demands in Scripture continues throughout the Christian life.

The reformers of the 16th century dealt with similar theologies. Luther used the term ‘Semi-Pelagian’ to characterize the Roman Catholics who held this view. Calvinists had to confront Arminians who held to the synergistic model, as well. Lordship Salvation may appear to be evangelical, but this is an illusion.  It is nothing more than a re-hash of the medieval ‘divine spark’ theology of the Roman Catholic Church.

With such a strong faith in human will, it is also a rejection of the biblical concept of total depravity as seen in the letters Paul wrote to the Colossians and Ephesians. What can this mean, ‘And you were dead in your trespasses and sins’ (Eph. 2:1) or, ‘And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses’ (Colossians 2:13). Neither of these verses supports the idea that we have the smallest ability to ‘repent and believe’ by an act of will.

The other significant issue is that of sanctification. This is where Lordship Salvation proponents really dig in their heels. Sanctification is a matter of total surrender and obedience to the commands in Scripture. The Reformed call these ‘imperatives’. These imperatives fit into a model of biblical interpretation.

Lordship Salvation adherents interpret their Bibles more than literally, however, they interpret their Bibles literalistic-ally. That is, everything, even poetry, analogies, metaphors and parables are bent into shapes they were never meant to hold. Anything that is not a command or directive is seen as secondary to the life of the believer.

Scripture is used aggressively within the church and against those outside of Lordship Salvation. Instead of examining the hermeneutics one uses, adherents simply assert, “the Bible says it”. Context, original purpose, audience, and the overall narrative of Scripture are minimized for the argument one makes from a single verse.

And, the overall narrative is misunderstood, as well. It is a narrative of Law as lord. It is important to remember that there was a 400+ year span between Abraham (faithful) and Moses (thus, the giving of the Law) when faithful people had no Law.

It is also lost in the discussion that Christ perfectly fulfilled the Law for you. Instead, the emphasis is on the ability one has to repent, believe, and obey. In short, Lordship Salvation is an invitation to centering your belief on … yourself. The reformers called it, ‘incurvitas en se’, or ‘being curved in on oneself’. It is the perfect theology for the self-centered people of our present-day culture. You are still in control. No need to be crucified and resurrected, just dusted off and shined up a little. No need for Jesus, just a strict moral adherence which will make you right as rain. The ultimate goal is the binding of the will to God’s commands.

The Law is not used properly in such a hermeneutic. Instead of being a mirror by which one sees his/her own sin, the Law is tailored and pacified into achievable goals to live by, instead of the raging lion that reveals our total sinfulness.

Contrary to Lordship Salvation’s foundational belief about the human will, the will is neither neutral nor good. Jesus says so in Matthew 23:37 and in John 5:40. Contextually, the latter verse is addressed to the ‘religious’ people of Jesus’ day (read Pharisees) who “… search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life …” However, they missed the point, “… and it is these that bear witness of me” (emphasis mine).

To believe that the will is somehow entirely sanctified after one repents and believes is to deny the reality of sinfulness. It is to say that when we sin, it is not sin, but just a mistake.

It is no wonder Pastor Fabarez must aggressively attack Pastor Tchividjian’s book. He isn’t just fighting for his ideas, he’s fighting to keep the Old Man (read ‘Old Adam’) in control. He’s fighting to keep the Old Adam alive. He’s fighting to keep the Holy Spirit’s work of magnifying Christ out of his church. He’s fighting to continue being god, as are all those who hold to Lordship Salvation.


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