Dec23

Christ Alone!

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Fourth Sunday in Advent

Christ Alone!

        Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and His only Son, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

        In two days we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This day we hold in remembrance because it is the day in which the fulfillment of God’s salvation becomes real and literally comes down to earth.

        We celebrate the birth of this babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, much the same way we celebrate our own birthdays. Yet unlike a singular birthday for a singular boy or girl, this birthday is a celebration for all people. Instead of one person receiving gifts, all people receive gifts; just as all people received the one gift from our Father in heaven – redemption from sin and death and salvation through Christ alone.

        These three words strike at our very hearts and souls. For this saying, Through Christ Alone, is the fourth Sola, in our doctrine, that is, our Christian belief. These Solae were first stated by the good Dr. Martin Luther on September 22, 1530 and later reemphasized by C. F. W. Walther in 1856; sola Scriptura, sola gratia, sola fide, that is, Scriptures alone, Grace alone, and Faith alone.

        It has come to our limited human understanding, that we are sinful creatures. We were made in the likeness of God only to fall into contempt through our own sinful and prideful arrogance to become like gods ourselves. We fell from grace. We defied our creator through our sinful disobedience.

        In our sinful state, we were cast out, away from all that is pure and holy. All that was required of us was to have faith in God, to believe His word – but we failed. Our Faith alone was transgressed.

        Thankfully, the Grace of God had never faltered. Through the grace of our Father in heaven, we were saved the moment we were lost. This is the glory of the God most high. We were never abandoned to the pit of Sheol and the poverty of the Devil. Instead, the grace of God gave His creation the promise of His Son through the His word. This is the Sola Scriptura, the word alone.

        In His word, God asked us to have Faith in Him alone. This same faith we chose to reject in the Garden of Eden, He gave to us as hope for a new life in His only Son, Jesus Christ.

        Through God’s grace alone, we were given His word alone, so that we might have faith alone. And one might think that this would be enough for the salvation of His creation… but it was not.

        You see, by creation of God, we were given the power of God. We were given the power to reject our Creator. We were given into the temptation of sin and the Devil. We chose poorly. By Sin alone, we cut our relationship between God and humankind.

        Brothers and Sisters, Family and Friends, Strangers and Sojourners, I do not want to mislead you into a false hope. Without God, we are all truly lost. We are all truly doomed to death eternal. I cannot emphasize enough the truly desolate state of sin and separation from the good God Almighty.

        This is why the words Christ Alone mean so much to me and to you.

        So simple yet so powerful are these words. Words that communicate and witness to the one and only truth… Christ Alone.

        Through the grace of God our Creator, we were given His word. Through His word, He gave us the means of grace. To hold His word and commands sacred and truly, we could return to Him. To save life instead of murder it, to love instead of hate, to believe in the One True God instead of reject Him, we could have walked in the glory and righteousness of our Creator.

        Yet, by our own reason and strength, we could not and cannot do this. By the grace of God alone, we were given salvation through Christ alone. Since the beginning of time, God, our Father and Creator, showed His mercy and grace in the promise of Christ alone. He proclaimed to human kind and our great adversary, the Devil,

“Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” [Gen 3:14-15]

      Christ alone is our only salvation and we know that the Word of God is true. Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary, came into our lives, flesh of our flesh, to be our Immanuel, to be God among us. Christ alone lowered himself from the heavens to crush the head of that great serpent.

      Christ alone took on the sin of your father, your mother, and the sin of your life from your conception until your death. He came as a child, an infant of humankind so that there would be no mistake of his humanity. He lived without sin, tempted and tried by the Devil himself and never failing in Faith alone.

      Christ alone not only spoke the word of God but also lived and became the Word alone. His life was and still is the incarnation of the living word of God. His faith in God is what is given to us in our baptism. His forgiveness of sin is given to us in his body and blood in the bread and wine of his holy sacrament.

      Through Christ, we receive salvation. Through Christ, we have everything. Through him we have the Grace of God, the Word of God and the faith of God. Christ alone gives us all.

      If you feel that you are being preached to, then you are absolutely correct. I am preaching the word as it has been preached to me through my baptism, through my forgiveness of sin in his body and blood, and through the word of Christ himself.

      Christ alone has told you, me and all people, that he is the truth, the light and the way. Christ alone has redeemed you, me and all people from eternal death. He has done this by his death on the cross and from his rise from the grave into life everlasting.

      Christ alone did this from the beginning; from his beginning and from yours. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther from his sermon in 1532:

“If, therefore, you want to know where this child came from, then listen to the prophet Micah, who says that he is from Bethlehem. From where else? From Bethlehem only? No, he was born before there ever where days, before the world, before heaven and earth, before sun and moon were created. Words fail us here. He originates from Bethlehem through his mother. But he is from eternity, before day and night, minutes and hours of time were ever counted.”[1]

      ‘The text in Hebrews may strike you as an odd text for the Fourth Sunday in Advent (or maybe any time for that matter) as we prepare for the [birth] of Jesus at [Bethlehem] and his coming at the end of the ages. This text from Hebrews, however, directs us to the reason Jesus came and why he will return. The writer to the Hebrews addresses the relationship between the Old Testament sacrificial system and the life of the Christian community.

The purpose of his incarnation was that Christ alone, the incarnate Son of God, as the great High Priest, might offer the sacrifice that truly makes God’s people holy. It is by that will, that offering, the people of God are sanctified. By this single offering “he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” [Hebrews 10:14]’[2]

      The author of Hebrews tells us that Christ alone was the only offering worthy in the eyes of God the Father. All sacrifices under the law were worthless and undesired. In addition, such sacrifices needed to be made repeatedly as our transgressions continued. However, Christ alone became the final sacrifice for all sin. Jesus Christ came to do the will of his Father; And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” [Hebrews 10:10]

      This is the work of God alone, through His mercy, grace and love. We have and can do nothing for our own salvation. It is the babe, born lowly in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger, who came into our flesh, who takes away our sin and the sin of the world. God is truly with us. Christ alone has come and he, in the words of the Prophet Micah:

      Shall return to the children of Israel.

4     And He shall stand and feed His flock

      In the strength of the Lord,

      In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God;

      And they shall abide,

      For now He shall be great

      To the ends of the earth;

5           And this One [alone] shall be peace. [Micah 5:3d-5a]

Amen

 


[1] Sermons of Martin Luther: Volume 1, p. 210, par7: translated by Eugene Klug, 1996: Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan

[2] Rev. Kent J. Burreson, STM, PhD, Louis A. Fincke and Anna B. Shine Professor of Systematic Theology,

Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri

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