The Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

  1. Salvation
  2. Faith
  3. The Gospel
SERMON TEXT:  Romans 10:13-17

Yes, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So then, how can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one about whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news of peace, who preach the gospel of good things!” But not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who believed our message?” So then, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message comes through the word of Christ.

Sermon Audio, Video, & Transcript

Get God’s Greatest Gifts

Grace and peace to you from God the father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Dear friends,

The word from God through which the Holy Spirit stirs our hearts is Romans 10:13-17. I’ll read some of the key parts. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How can they call on the one they have not believed in, and how can they believe in one about whom they have not heard? How can they hear without a preacher and how can they preach unless they are sent? It is written how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news of peace. The gospel of good things, but not all obeyed the gospel. Isaiah says Lord who believed our message? Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message comes through the word of Christ.

Dear fellow saints who were washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior. Why did you come to church today? Did you come to make some business connections? Maybe you’re a lonely person looking for a date. Maybe you came to church to keep the wife happy or maybe need to keep mom and dad off your back. Maybe you came to church because you want to be a better person. You want to learn some things that may be important in life, or maybe the reason that she came to church tonight is that you are trying to repay a debt. Maybe you made a vow to God some time ago to get you out of a jam, and you said if you just get me out of this jam Lord, I promise you that I will come every Sunday. I hope you can tell that all of those reasons for coming to church are flawed. The first couple that I mentioned, well those are just looking for earthly advantages, aren’t they? The second few that I mentioned are either trying to present yourself as a good person, or to become a better person, so that you can present yourself to God as a good person. And boy, the last one, the last one just sounds like you feel so sure of yourself and think so highly of yourself that God must really want to be in a relationship with you. I’ll come to church every Sunday like that’s going to be a bribe that keeps God giving you blessings, because God certainly wants your stinking sinful self in church. You forget that all of your righteous deeds are nothing but filthy rags? Do you forget the reason for coming to church in the first place? It’s not about what you give to God because you have nothing that you can give to God that he needs. Nothing even really that he wants. There’s nothing that he is lacking. He is not a lonely person looking for a date.

We come to church because of what God GIVES to us. What God gives is what we need, and so I encourage you today to get the greatest gifts of God. Why is this message of Christ so vital? You know this message that we receive in church, this is one of the few places that you will hear this message. Yes, it’s in your Bibles. You can hear it on the radio and on the television. Not all of what you hear on the radio and television is going to be the gospel, and it’s not all going to be the pure gospel. Not everything that you hear in every church is going to be the pure gospel but coming to a church that does preach the pure gospel is so very important. This message of Christ is vital in verse 13 (Romans 10:13) it is summed up; everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Those last three words are so important, “WILL BE SAVED.” We’re talking about the difference between salvation and damnation. The difference between paradise and perdition. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Those who do not are lost. In other words, they go to hell and that’s the road that we were born traveling on. Jesus said broad is the road, wide is the gate that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. The billboards on this road promise a lot of really good things. Do it your way. You’re in charge. Who needs forgiveness? Fun fun fun! Seize the day. Party on. All of those are lies and propaganda. Although that’s what we were swallowing hook line and sinker. The devil was reeling us in and we weren’t even trying to get away. We thought we were happy with the devil’s lure hooked in our mouth. But remember our gospel reading? Jesus told the disciples to throw out the net. So when Simon threw out the net, he caught so many fish that the boats were filled and even began to sink because of the weight. The net of God’s word, the net of the gospel has come sweeping down and caught up you and me. His net rescued us from Satan’s lure. His net saved us. The bait that was the lie Satan, that bait was snatched away from us, and the net actually set us free from the destruction that Lure was leading us into. Through this net we had our mouths open. So that rather than grasping onto Satan’s lure our mouth was calling on the name of the Lord. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

The net that rescues us is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The good news message. Cherish it. How do we cherish the message of Christ? The word that we use to describe that his faith. As each day you continue to call on the name of the Lord. No matter what the danger is, you can call on God knowing that he will rescue you. Like the tax collector in Jesus parable who beat his breast and said God have mercy on me a sinner. That will be our gospel reading on Ash Wednesday March 3. God have mercy on me a sinner is all that we can say, to God. We don’t deserve his mercy. We daily sin much? Don’t we often feel regret, because we feel like we’re missing out on some of life because we follow Jesus? Yes, even after we come to faith, we still have a sinful nature. And sometimes the shiny lure and the wonderful smelling bait that Satan dangles in front of us causes us to have second thoughts about whether it’s really worth following Jesus. And then we get to feel guilty about that as well, and then Satan’s other lure tries to find its way into our mouth, the lure of guilt. Feeling like God can’t really, really love us because of all of the sins that we’ve done. Christian call on the name of the Lord because it is a precious and it is a saving name. Call on it in faith. Faith that believes the message of Christ. Faith that holds onto those promises. Faith that walks in the way that leads to salvation. Jesus says to you just as he said to the paralyzed man in Matthew 9; be of good cheer your sins are forgiven. Think of that? Your sins are forgiven. Could there be a more beautiful phrase in any language? And if that phrase is so beautiful and so are those who proclaim it. The prophet Isaiah said, and the gospel writer quoted, and St. Paul quoted, how beautiful are the feet of those who proclaim the good message? How beautiful are the feet? I don’t usually think of feet as beautiful. They’re to be walked on. They often get calluses, and bumps, and they get misinformed. Some people have beautiful feet. I know that I don’t. And yet Isaiah says how beautiful are the feet of those proclaim the good news. That’s how precious the message is. It is so precious to create faith in the heart and it is faith that also motivates us to not want to keep this wonderful blessing, this wonderful good news to ourselves. The gospel is ours to keep, and it is ours to share. Think about the chain of events that brought you to salvation. There’s kind of an interlocking chain. Paul starts at the endpoint. He says everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved that’s the bottom line. We have salvation. We have faith calling on the name of the Lord. Now how did we get to call on the name of the Lord? Paul says how can they call on the one they have not believed in? So, we must believe. How can they believe in the one they have not heard? So, we must hear. How can they hear without someone to preach to them or someone to tell them, and how can that preacher preach? How can that teller tell, unless he is sent? That has to happen in order for faith to get into our hearts so that we can receive the salvation that God wants us to have. Paul tells us that that message, the message is Jesus himself. The good news is Christ himself. He’s the one who appeared in the Old Testament in our first lesson today. The angel of the Lord. The one who described himself by saying I Am. Who replied to Manoah’s question of his name, he said why do you ask my name? It is wonderful. So Isaiah centuries later would say that the name by which the Savior would be called would be wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, and Prince of peace. How can they believe without someone preaching to them? Why did those preachers go out? Why did the prophets? Why did the apostles? Why did the evangelist? Why do pastors and teachers today go out, because they are being sent. Sent by God, sent by Christ, and sent by their fellow believers. Are you the end of the line? Actually no, if you want to picture all of these interlocking chains, or interlocking links as a chain, realize that this isn’t just one long line chain, this is an interlocking chain like a necklace.

We who have received the message continued to spread the message. So that those who hear the message from us can also tell others and so on and so on. You who call on the Lord in faith, send out preachers, pastors, and missionaries, and staff ministers, and teachers. That’s one of the great blessings that we have in our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, is that as we continue to support the work of the Synod, more pastors, and missionaries, and staff ministers, and teachers, are being trained. And each year are being sent to proclaim the same message that you hear here each week, and just as the message of Christ has worked faith in your heart, so it will work faith in the hearts of others who hear it. Yes, we support this work with our offerings, and with our prayers, but we also encourage this work and spread this work, as we encourage our sons, and daughters, our grandchildren, and our other younger acquaintances to consider serving the Lord as full-time gospel workers. Maybe the Lord can even use you in full-time gospel work. Might he use you in part-time gospel work such as serving as a Sunday school teacher, or Vacation Bible school supervisor. Today our congregation is issuing, actually tomorrow, our congregation will be issuing a call for a new pastor to proclaim the gospel for the next number of years here at Grace Lutheran Church. We can have high confidence that our next pastor has been well-trained in the word of God and in pastoral care and has been tested in our ministerial education system. We can also be absolutely sure that he has been faithful so far in his gospel ministry. Having served as a pastor for at least four years. In most cases more. You can be sure that he holds to the faith just as we have held to the faith and confess it as Lutherans. But the pastor is not a Lone Ranger. The pastor is not here to do the work himself. It’s important to utilize the entire team. You continue the chain not only by sending others to tell, but also by telling others yourself. That’s why our Lord has chosen us as his people to declare the praises of him. Who called us out of darkness and into his wonderful light? As you share the message not everyone will believe. That shouldn’t come as any surprise to any of you have any experience with sharing the gospel. That was the case throughout history. Paul says not all the Israelites accepted the good news. Isaiah lamented, Lord who has believed our message? So, don’t let unbelief or rejection by others deter you. The apostle Paul and the prophet Isaiah faced rejection and so often will we. Jesus says if the reject us, they are rejecting him, but the joyful side of the coin is this, if they listen to you, Jesus says they are listening to me. If they listen to me, they are listening to the one who sent me. So be ready to share that message of Christ. That doesn’t mean you have to set up a soapbox on a street corner and yell loudly. Rather it means to cherish the message of Christ. To continue to come where you can hear the word of God, and be fed in your faith, and get God’s greatest gifts. Where God fills you with salvation, and faith, and the gospel. And then the more you are filled with these greatest gifts of God, the more you are going to overflow. Your daily conversation will naturally turn to Christ. Your daily exchange with people will be filled with the gospel and good works. It is God’s love that has called us to be part of his family. It’s God’s love that has washed our sins away by this gospel. It is God’s love that sent Jesus to die on that cross so that our sins would be completely washed, and so that our eternity will be completely guaranteed. Our acts of love do not earn salvation for us. Our good works do not prove anything to God that he doesn’t already know. Our good works are important because God commands them, and also because this is one of the ways that we attract others to want to know what it is that makes us happy. What it is that energizes our faith and our love and our life. So, acts of love may make others curious. May attract them to us, but it’s only the word of Christ that creates faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the word of Christ.

Amen

Why audio, video, and a transcript?
Though the video, audio, and transcript are for the same sermon, there are benefits to having all three.

Video has the most obvious benefit in that it gives you the ability to watch and listen as if you were sitting in church on Sunday morning.

The audio gives you the freedom of being able to listen while doing something else, like driving. Also, the audio is much better quality then the audio track on the video. The audio comes from the pastor’s mic, which picks up his voice much more clearly. Another benefit is that most of the longer pauses have been shortened or removed, resulting in the entire length being several minutes shorter. Finally many audio players allow you to slow down or speed up the audio so that you can listen at your own pace.

The transcript has its own advantages in the same way actively reading something is often better than passively listening or watching. Reading a sermon means not wondering off and missing something. In addition, though video and audio are easy enough to keep around, transcripts are are even easier to archive and store. They also make it easy to search for past sermons for content. Even if you’re not able to remember the date or the service, you can still search for words in the sermon. For example, searching for “billboards on this road promise a lot of really good things.” will take you right to this sermon.


Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  Judges 13:6-24

The woman went and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and he looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask where he was from, and he did not tell me his name. But he did say to me, ‘Listen! You will be pregnant and give birth to a son. So now, do not drink wine or beer, and do not eat anything unclean, because the young man will be a Nazirite dedicated to God from his mother’s womb until the day of his death.’”
Then Manoah pleaded with the LORD, “Please, Lord, the man of God whom you sent—please let him come to us again, to teach us what we are to do for the young man who is to be born.”
God heard the voice of Manoah, and the Angel of God returned to the woman while she was sitting in the field. Once again her husband Manoah was not with her. The woman ran quickly and told her husband. She said to him, “Come, see! The man who appeared to me came to me again today.”
Manoah then got up and followed his wife. He came to the man and said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to my wife?”
He answered, “I am.”
Manoah said, “Now, when your words come true, what will be the rule for the young man and his actions?”
The Angel of the LORD answered Manoah, “The woman must be careful concerning everything that I said to her. She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine. She must not drink wine or beer, and she must not eat any unclean thing. Everything that I commanded her she must observe.”
Manoah then said to the Angel of the LORD, “May we persuade you to stay, so that we may prepare a young goat for you?”
But the Angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “Even if you keep me here, I will not eat any of your food, but if you make a burnt offering, offer it up to the LORD.” (Manoah did not yet know that he was the Angel of the LORD.)
Then Manoah said to the Angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that we can honor you when your words come true?”
The Angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask about my name? It is wonderful.”
Manoah took the young goat and the grain offering, and he offered them on the rock to the LORD, who did something wonderful as Manoah and his wife were watching. As the flame rose from the altar toward the sky, the Angel of the LORD ascended upward from the altar in the flame. Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell facedown to the ground. The Angel of the LORD did not appear to Manoah and his wife again, but now Manoah knew that he was the Angel of the LORD.
Manoah said to his wife, “We will certainly die, because we have seen God.”
But his wife said to him, “If the LORD wanted to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, and he would not have shown us all these things, nor would he have let us hear this message at this time.”
The woman gave birth to a son, and she named him Samson. The boy grew, and the LORD blessed him.

SECOND LESSON:  Romans 10:13-17

See Sermon Text

VERSE OF THE DAY:  John 8:12b (NIV)

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

GOSPEL: Luke 5:1-11

One time, while the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there along the lakeshore. The fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Jesus got into one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the shore. He sat down and began teaching the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water, and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered him, “Master, we worked hard all through the night and caught nothing. But at your word I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets were about to tear apart. They signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, because I am a sinful man, Lord.” For Peter and all those with him were amazed at the number of fish they had caught, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Have no fear. From now on you will be catching people.” After they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.

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