2 Corinthians 3:4-11
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
These Gentiles are heathen no longer. They are believers at this moment. In fact, though Our Lord tells them to be quiet, to tell no one, they can’t help talking about it. They are astounded. It is beyond belief. They could not believe it if they had not seen it with their own eyes. This is the nature of the Christian faith. It is incredible. For I can not by my own reason and strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him. Not because it is not true. Not because it isn’t entirely grounded in fact. The Christian faith is the only religion in the world based entirely on fact, not fiction. The Bible, Christianity’s Holy Book, is the only Holy Book in all world whose stories can be verified by outside sources. Even by hostile sources. In fact, no book or document in all of history is as certain and well documented as the Bible is. Both the historical details and the transmission of the text are quite certain. The geographical details are beyond doubt. This actually happened in the real world. The accounts are genuine eyewitnesses grounded in fact. This is not some mythology we are playing with. This is not unverifiable “holy history” like all the holy books of other religions. It is not some plastic, voodoo, spiritual game, which is to say, “not real”. It is real. Based in fact. Built on evidence. (See Dr. Paul Maier’s DVD & book, Jesus: Legend or Lord?)
And that very certainty is what makes the Bible so incredible (in the true sense of the word in-credible)! It is not merely written by men who made things up. It is the testament of what God Himself did. That is scandalous in our world. We like to cherry-pick on the buffet of religion what we will believe and what we won’t. After all, the Bible is just a book written by men. And men lie. NO. The Bible is a book written by men, men who saw the Triune God do these things. They would not have believed it either if they had not seen it. In fact, though they saw it, they were astounded. It was the Holy Spirit who enabled them to believe and accept what they had seen. For they had seen the God breaks the Laws of Physics. He does what no one does. He heals. He makes alive. He fixes what is broken and unfixable. He does all things well. It is good.
His Word, the Bible, is inspired by Him (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is watched over by Him (Jeremiahs 1:11-12). It is preserved by Him. So that we who can not believe such incredible things, things that do not happen in this dreary, awful world, might actually believe even though we have not seen these things for ourselves.
We are much worried about our world. It has changed so dramatically in the days of our lives. Morality has changed. Some things are better, so much for the worse. Belief has changed. Where once we saw a society where most seemed to be believers, or at least occasional church goers, now hardly anyone goes. No one believes.
Yet this need not concern us. These things we believe are certain and true. Though people deny them to their own harm, truth can not be suppressed indefinitely. As merely one example of things afoot in our world, the seemingly unassailable fortress of Islam is under attack. Not by terrorists or armies, but by the very Word of God which opens unbelieving ears.
In Germany, where hardly any of the native population believe any longer, Persian (Iranian) Muslims are becoming Christians by the hundreds. The fastest growing church in Germany is an independent Lutheran church that we are in fellowship with. I attended it weeks before I became your pastor. These days many of the people in pews of that congregation are not Germans, but Persians and Russians. In Germany as much 50% of young Persians (Iranians) sympathize with Christianity. While in Iran it is estimated that more than 20% of Iranians listen to Christian radio via satellite and secretly read Bible smuggled in. (Read the story here.) Lutheran Hour Ministries broadcasts from the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea into eleven Middle Eastern countries (read here, p. 4). Hundreds of thousands of Muslims each year hear of the death of God’s Son Jesus Christ for their sins. A death which is incredible both because God would undergo death, but moreover because it blots out your sins before God Almighty. It cleanses you. It makes you His child. There is no uncertainty as to whether God will be merciful to you. Through your baptism into Christ your sins are forgiven. Though you will die, you shall be raised as the incorruptible Son was raised to new life. You shall be in the paradise of heaven where all things are good with Your Saviour and His loving Father who through your Baptism is Your Father. He is a mighty and dreadfully powerful king. But you need not be afraid of Him for He is your loving Father. These claims are unbelievable, except by the power of the Holy Spirit who has created faith in your when you were baptized, and sustains that faith when you hear His Word, and eat and drink the new covenant of forgiveness into yourself.
We worry about the world around us. We forget that God has all things in control. That though our lives are filled with much turmoil and mayhem, though we have crosses to bear, He who carried our sins to the cross will lift us up in due time. He is ordering all things for your good. Moreover, He prays for you to His Father with deep groans that words can not express. He knows your needs. And He commands you to pray to your Father. Not because He doesn’t already know your needs, but because He wants to impart to you greater peace by casting your burdens on Him.
He took hold of the mute man’s tongue. He grasped it firmly. He took the man’s affliction on Himself. He carried it to the cross to do away with it. He thrust His fingers in deaf man’s ears punching through the sin which blocks up our hearts and minds and souls, preventing us from hearing Him. We are firmly in His hands. Hands that He carved you on, when He let the nails punch through His flesh. He will not forget you. You are His. You belong to Him. He has done all things well. Including saving you and ordering all things for your salvation in this uncertain and wicked world. This is most certainly true.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON