Sermon Transcript - Click or tap to open

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

  1. By examining yourself
  2. By listening to the Lord
  3. By obeying the Truth
SERMON TEXT:  2 Corinthians 13:5–8

Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not know this about yourselves: that Jesus Christ is in you—unless perhaps you fail the test? But I hope that you will recognize that we are not failing the test. We pray to God that you may not do anything evil, not so that we may appear to have passed the test, but so that you may do what is good, even if we may seem like those who are failing to pass the test. To be sure, we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.

Grace mercy and peace to all of you from God our father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Today the sermon text is second Corinthians 13:5–8. It is an encouragement for us to examine ourselves and to test ourselves. The Apostle Paul was addressing people that were very much like us. Their clothing, of course, was different they lived in a much different time. They lived in a much different culture. Their appearance and their language were different than ours, but very much the same. They were sinful people who needed God’s forgiveness, and they were people who had been found by God, and rescued by him and given the hope of glory just like us. The people that St. Paul was writing to didn’t know anything about modern NFL football, but you and I do. We know a little bit about it. We know the costumes that they wear during the month of October you’ve noticed a change in their costumes. For the past eight years, it’s been the same in the NFL. Did you notice it? Do you notice it? Almost every player on the field, and many of the referees where something pink. They were something pink for breast cancer awareness month. This year the NFL has opened that up so that many NFL teams recognize the importance of encouraging awareness for all kinds of cancer, or for various specific types of cancer.

1. By Examining Yourself

One of the most important things the doctors tell us that we should do in order to prevent cancer from getting worse is to do a self-examination. Many kinds of cancer can be detected by feeling a lump under the skin. And it’s important to do those kinds of things. It’s also very important to use the technology that God has provided for us–through wise people–to detect all kinds of illnesses and diseases. From X-Rays to MRIs to CAT scans and even DNA analysis. It’s good to examine ourselves physically, but it’s even more important to examine ourselves spiritually. I don’t know what many of you feel about going to the doctor. I think that I know some people that really love going to the doctor. They love the attention. They seek to have some kind of disease. It almost seems as if they have chronic psychosomatic hypochondria because they’re always finding some kind of illness to go and find treatment for. I am kind of the opposite. If I can find any excuse not to go see a doctor. I don’t know what it is, but many men are the same way we pretend not to be afraid of anything but we don’t want to go see the doctor. I think maybe it’s because we are apprehensive about what the doctor might find. What the physician might tell us. What the tests might actually uncover about ourselves. You know that keeps people from giving themselves a spiritual examination too, doesn’t it? Modern psychology, modern therapy, usually tries to get rid of the problem of people’s guilt by denying that there is such a thing as sin and telling people to get over it because there’s nothing to feel guilty about. I have a hunch that that’s not very successful most of the time. I think most people deep down, and I think this is because God has created us this way, know that there’s something wrong, with ourselves. A spiritual examination is going to detect what that wrongness is. It is sin of course. Sin that we were born with, and we had this inclination to sin that started even before we have any conscious memory of it. We were completely selfish and self-absorbed and we were ready to hit anybody that tried to share our toys that we wanted for ourselves. Those of you with brothers or sisters, do you remember how you could fight over the smallest thing? That’s a symptom of our sinful nature.

2. By Listening To The Lord

The Old Testament reading today from the book of Ezekiel talked about what that sinful nature is like and what repentance is like. It talks about the two different kinds of people. Some of them are people who start off being pretty good, but then they turn bad. They start to give in to some of their impulses that maybe they were held in check by a strong disciplinary family or by societal pressure but they start to engage in the sinful activity. Then there are also those who began life as pretty rebellious, and pretty wild, but later on, in life, they come to know something about themselves, about the world in which they live, and especially they come to know something about the Lord himself. And they change their ways, and they live righteously. The prophet wants us to consider which one ends up better off. Jesus uses the same example but brings a little bit closer to home in the gospel reading today. He tells us about two sons and there’s one father, of course, the father represents God. And he came to the sun the first one and he said go and work in the vineyard, go to work on the family land, the family business. And this son said, “I don’t feel like it I’m not going to go today.” But later on he changed his mind and he did go out and work in the vineyard. And the father came to the second son and said, “you to go and work in the vineyard.” And the second son said, “Oh yes sir. Absolutely sir. I sure will. Anything you say sir.,” but he did not go. Jesus asked that so that we can do our own kind of self-examination. Which of them really obeyed his father’s will? People listening to Jesus that first time answered correctly, the first one. Even though at first he was unmotivated. Even at first he did not say the right thing, or confess the right way, he ultimately went out and did what God, what his father was demanding of him. The second one was all about lip-service. Yes sir I will do it but, he did not go. If either of these scenarios feels familiar to you, then a self-examination is really what is called for. Test yourself. St. Paul says, and see whether you are in the faith. Some people are very prone to introspection. Looking into themselves all the time. I know some people who spend it seems like they spend hours a day analyzing the way they feel, their attitude, their emotions, their digestion, their sleep patterns. They spend hours trying to think what could have caused this or that. Some people are exactly the opposite. They eat whatever they feel like. They go to bed and get up whenever they feel like it, and they don’t give any thought to how their digestion is working. out. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. We know that we have to pay some attention, and spiritually of course we do need to pay attention. Not always by looking inwardly because we know that we’re going to find sinfulness and rebellion, but we need to self examine so that we will know whether we are being influenced by the Holy Spirit, whether he is coming into us. So questions that are helpful in this are not so much how do I feel about God, or how do I feel spiritually today, but how deep is my relationship with God according to the measurement of his word? Have I listened to God’s word recently? Can I look at my life, or better yet if someone else were looking at my life, would they be able to see evidence that I am a Christian, even if I didn’t say anything about it? Is my speech focused on godly things, or if somebody had a conversation with me would they conclude that I have nothing to do with Christ or his church? He requires us to look at ourselves from outside. Are we in the faith? And another test, and this is even more concrete, have I received the sacrament? There are people who are members of this church who have not received the sacrament of the Lord’s supper in years. Those people if they’re hearing this sermon, I don’t know how many of them will listen to it on the web, or if some of them will receive a CD of this sermon eventually, but if we have gone for years, or even just months without receiving the sacrament, then we should worry. We should wonder what is it about my spiritual status right now that is causing me to stay away? That is dulling my feelings of need for God’s forgiveness. All of these things about self-examination would be worthless if we didn’t know for sure that we had the Lord’s promise. When we look inside we will find fault. We will find sin. If you truly examine your faith you’ll find weakness of faith. Those are not the things that we can find comfort and confidence in. The confidence and the comfort comes from hearing the promise of God. The apostle Paul says you should know this about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you. And we find that because we have the character of a Christian? The conversation of a Christian? No, we see that because of God’s promise itself. When you hear the words of Jesus come to me you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Do you hear that as an invitation? When Jesus says I stand at the door and knock and whoever opens the door will receive me and my father will receive him. Do you hear that is a blessed invitation? An invitation to receive the finest of banquet food? The most wonderful of spiritual fair, because that’s what it is. And just a little over a month most of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving, and in most homes around the country there will be someone who has prepared a meal and that person will call to whoever is gathered family, or friends, and will say come and eat. And the people who are hearing that will not respond by saying oh do we have to, didn’t we do this last year. No, when Thanksgiving is on the table you’re ready, and your eager for it. That’s why we responded to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He says come to me and we say were coming. He says receive this wonderful gift of forgiveness, and we say Lord it can’t be soon enough. Jesus says to us I’m coming soon and we say yes, Lord come quickly. We hear that word from God and we respond to it, not because we have to to stay in his grace, not because we have to to prove that we have faith, but we respond to that love because, it feels so good to be in God’s presence. It feels so good to be pulling on the same team together. With him it becomes such a pleasure to see God’s work among us.

3. By obeying the Truth

Before we receive the Lord’s supper is a special time for self-examination. When we examine ourselves before the supper we do want to look at the 10 Commandments. We want to briefly in our head run through those commandments and remind ourselves that we have sinned against every single one of them in thought, word, and deed. And as we recognize we are sinful, we repent of those sins, and we consciously make an effort to turn away from the sins, and turn to the forgiveness that Jesus offers.W e examine ourselves and we ask whether we believe that Jesus offers his true body and blood for our forgiveness so that we can spend eternity with him in heaven. Maybe if you’re like me sometimes that catches you up short. Do I really believe this? Do I really believe this strongly enough to be a worthy participant in the sacrament? Were looking at faith the wrong way actually, because Jesus has come into your heart, and given you faith. Even if you do sometimes have doubts, think what is the Lord’s supper for? The Lord’s supper is for the strengthening of our faith. The Lord’s supper is given for that exact purpose that we may be strengthened in our relationship to him so that we may draw closer to him so that we can receive his gifts with pure joy. So don’t be afraid to examine yourself because you will find Christ there. It is not so important that you pass the test so that we, meaning messengers of the gospel the apostle Paul, and all pastors will look good, but it’s important so that you may do what is good, even if it seems like there is failure. The one thing that is most important is the glory of God. We want to glorify God and that will happen through life or death and through everything that happens to us. The apostle Paul concludes this reading by saying to be sure we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. The apostle Paul is reminding us of the importance of sincerity. When you examine yourself, open yourself up. Don’t be afraid to look deeply, and see what you will see. Don’t try to fake it in front of your family and friends, but if you find problems, confess those problems, and hear from a pastor or from a fellow believer, the assurance that God is taken away your sins. When you do that exercise God truly will be working in you. So work for the truth. That is your exam for today there will not be a test later on because it’s all about grace

Amen

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

  1. By examining yourself
  2. By listening to the Lord
  3. By obeying the Truth
SERMON TEXT:  2 Corinthians 13:5–8

See 2nd Lesson


Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32

The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you mean, you who keep repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel: Fathers eat sour grapes, and the teeth of their sons are set on edge? “As surely as I live, declares the Lord God, you will never again use this proverb in Israel. Indeed, all souls are mine. The soul of the father is mine just like the soul of the son. The soul who sins is the one who will die. “Yet you say, ‘The Lord’s way is not fair. Listen now, O house of Israel: Is it my way that is not fair? Is it not your ways that are not fair? If a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and practices unrighteousness, he will die because of it. Because of the unrighteousness that he has practiced, he will die. “But if a wicked man repents of his wickedness that he had done and practices justice and righteousness, he will preserve his life. Because he has seen and repented of all the rebellious acts that he had committed, he will surely live, and he will not die. But the house of Israel says, ‘The Lord’s way is not fair. Is it really my ways that are not fair, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not fair? “Therefore, I will judge each one of you according to his ways, O house of Israel, says the Lord God. Repent and turn away from all your rebellious acts, so that you will not set out a stumbling block that makes you guilty. Throw off from yourselves all your rebellious actions by which you have rebelled, and get for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, declares the Lord God. So repent and live!”

SECOND LESSON:  2 Corinthians 13:5–8

Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not know this about yourselves: that Jesus Christ is in you—unless perhaps you fail the test? But I hope that you will recognize that we are not failing the test. We pray to God that you may not do anything evil, not so that we may appear to have passed the test, but so that you may do what is good, even if we may seem like those who are failing to pass the test. To be sure, we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.

VERSE OF THE DAY:  Philippians 2:10

At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

GOSPEL: Matthew 21:28–32

“What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in my vineyard. He answered, ‘I will not,’ but later he changed his mind and went. He came to the second and said the same thing. The second son answered, ‘I will go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen I tell you: The tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, but you did not believe him. However, the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him. Even when you saw this, you did not change your mind and believe him.”

X