Trinity Fifteen Sermon
“Our Father’s World”
September 28, 2003
Freedom is one of the greatest
blessings God has given to America.
We know it. Americans
love to sing about being free. Just
about every patriotic song you know celebrates this freedom.
And it is, to a large degree, very true.
There are places all over this world where folks cannot legally
and safely gather together publicly to worship God and to hear His
gospel proclaimed. Whether
in Saudi Arabia or the Peoples’ Republic of China, Christians face
severe persecution in the world today.
God has graciously kept America free.
Thank God for the freedoms we treasure as Americans.
These freedoms can be a
double-edged sword, however. We
have the freedom here at River Heights Lutheran Church to preach and
teach the pure gospel of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Our neighbors, than a mile to our west on County Road 19, have
the same freedom to preach and teach a false gospel that denies Christ
is God and rejects His saving gospel.
The followers of Christ and the deniers of Christ have equal
rights in this country. As
Americans we concede that the Jehovah’s Witnesses may publicly deny
the saving truth because as Christians we cherish the constitutionally
guaranteed right to preach, teach, and confess the pure and evangelical
truth by which souls are saved. Religious
freedom is not a given. For
this freedom, we should bow in grateful thanksgiving to our God.
But to say that America has
religious freedom is not to say that she has spiritual freedom.
They are not the same thing.
The land of the free is the home of spiritual bondage.
Most Americans are not free.
They are helplessly and hopelessly bound. They are enslaved by a power that permeates every aspect of
Jesus said, “No one can serve
two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else
he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.”
We need to listen to Jesus.
He says it is not possible to serve two masters.
He doesn’t say it is inadvisable or difficult or troublesome.
He says no one can do it. You
cannot serve God and mammon at the same time.
You will love either the one or the other because you cannot love
both. You will be devoted
either to the one or to the other because both are jealous of your
affections and will not share them with the other.
The two cannot be mixed together as if we may willingly serve
both at the same time.
“Mammon” is sometimes
translated as money, but the word means more than that.
Jesus is the only one to use this word in the New Testament
Scriptures, and He always uses it to refer to those material goods in
which people put their trust. Long
before political philosophers developed their philosophy of materialism,
Jesus identified materialism for what it is.
It is idolatry. It
is worshipping the creation instead of the Creator.
And those who bow down at the altar of mammon or materialism bow
down to one mean idol.
Mammon promises you everything,
but he does it as a ruse to win your foolish heart.
After he lures you to put you trust in him, he immediately
proceeds to steal from you precisely those things in which you placed
your trust. The promise of
more and more and more things takes hold of a person and gives him no
peace or contentment with what God has given to him.
Mammon lies about God and says He’s stingy.
But when Mammon has captured your devotion and conquered your
heart he always leaves you unsatisfied.
You cannot get enough. You
cannot make enough. You
cannot have enough. You
need more and more and more. Why?
Because you don’t know the One who owns it all and who would
freely give you anything you ever needed if only you would ask Him.
Now we know that an idol isn’t
really any god at all because there is only one God.
Apart from the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Spirit – there is no God. But
while an idol is not a personal being there is a personal being who uses
idolatry to seduce Christians away from the true God.
Jesus called him a liar and a murderer.
He lies by contradicting God’s word.
He murders by enticing folks to trust in lies.
believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.”
does this mean?
believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my
body and soul, eyes, ears and all my members, my reason and all my
senses, and still preserves them; that He richly and daily provides me
with food and clothing, home and family, property and goods, and all
that I need to support this body and life; that He protects me from all
danger, guards and keeps me from all evil; and all this purely out of
fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in
me; for all which I am duty bound to thank and praise, to serve and obey
Him. This is most certainly true.”
This is our Father’s world.
He is our Father and He governs this world. He feeds the birds of the air.
He clothes the flowers of the field.
He feeds, clothes, shelters, supports, protects, guards, and
keeps His children. They
are worth much more than plants and animals.
They are created in God’s image.
They are redeemed by Christ’s blood.
They are sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
They have a value that far exceeds the value of any merely
material thing. Their value is not determined by the market place or by the
government or by various human ideologies.
Their value is placed upon them by their Father in heaven.
The reason Mammon is such a
useless and ultimately cruel god is because he cannot deliver on his
promises. There is nothing
you can see, hear, smell, taste, or touch that will not be taken away
from you. When you put your
trust in the things you own and worry about not having enough you become
the most pathetic kind of slave. It
is not only likely – it is guaranteed – that your stuff will be
ruined, lost, rusted, worn out, broken, or in some other way destroyed.
Jesus tells us quite
specifically what to value so that we can know without a doubt that our
heavenly Father will take care of everything we need in this world.
He says: “Seek
first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things
shall be added to you.”
Before we can be confident that
God will provide for all of our material needs so that we need never
worry about having enough of this world’s goods, we need to become
confident that God will provide for all our spiritual needs.
Before we can rest assured that God will take care of us here on
earth, we need to have the assurance that God will take us to heaven
some day. Few people have
this assurance. This is why
they cannot trust God for anything good.
They don’t know where they stand with Him.
They don’t know where they are going when they die.
The kingdom of God exists here
on earth, but it is not just here.
It is in heaven as well. Here
on earth we call it the kingdom of grace.
In heaven we call it the kingdom of glory.
But it is the same kingdom.
Only those who enter into the kingdom of God here on earth will
find it in heaven. There is only one door to this kingdom. It is God’s righteousness.
“Seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” Jesus said.
God’s righteousness is flawless.
Whereas human righteousness is never perfect because all human
beings are corrupted by sin, God’s righteousness is perfect because
God is without sin. Where
then is the kingdom of God and His righteousness to be found?
God’s kingdom and God’s
righteousness is to be found in Jesus and nowhere else.
The god of Mammon demands that you acquire more and more and more
while never gaining true contentment or happiness.
Christ says something entirely different.
He says, “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heaven laden
and I will give you rest.” Mammon
makes you work hard for what will not last.
Jesus invites you to lay down your burden and put your confidence
in His work rather than your own. He
knows that we have failed to obey God at the very beginning of the task.
We haven’t even made it past the First Commandment.
Mammon’s lies have found fertile soil in our hearts as we have
worried about whether or not our Father in heaven really is who Jesus
says He is. We worry about
our jobs, our cars, our houses, our children, our future, our health,
and so much more. We
don’t believe God will care for us until we see it.
Jesus brings us God’s kingdom
and righteousness. Having
this we don’t need to see more proof than the birds or the flowers.
Look to Jesus as He obeys His Father and does the righteousness
His Father demanded of us all. Watch
Him as He counters every temptation of the devil with God’s word.
See Him turn aside anger with gentleness. Watch Him bear abuse, hatred, violence, and cruelty all the
way to the death of the cross. And
read the inscription above His head, “King of the Jews.” There is the kingdom of God!
There is the righteousness you need!
There is all the wealth of heaven and earth. For there it is that Jesus our brother overcomes every human
temptation to fear, love, and trust in anyone or anything but in God
alone. There Jesus crushes
the lying head of Satan who by the idol of Mammon would lure us into
slavery. There Jesus
persuades us that true wealth does not consist in the things we own, but
true wealth consists in knowing Christ and having His righteousness.
What does it mean to be wealthy
and without any need of anything we don’t already have?
It means to be forgiven by God through the blood of Jesus.
It means to know that God, having seen us in all our idolatrous
sin has loved us, washed us clean in Holy Baptism, and daily covers us
with the spotless white robe of Christ’s righteousness.
It means to know that for Christ’s sake and on account of His
righteousness, we have a home in heaven where no sin can enter and no
death, no sorrow, or suffering of any kind.
It means to know that we can never be poor in this life because
we are the children of the One who owns everything in this world.
We have no worries because we have received what nobody can ever
take away. When we know
that we are righteous with Christ’s own righteousness we also know
that God will provide us with all that we need in this life.
This is our Father’s world and we are His children.
Rev. Rolf D. Preus