A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on February 3, 2008 by Pastor Dale Raether Protect Your Faith with the WordII Peter 1:16-21Children’s messageI have here something that’s very precious. It’s a hundred dollar bill. If this was yours, and you were outside and had to set it down, but didn’t have any pockets, what would you do to keep the wind from blowing it away? (put a weight on it).Children, we all have something that’s much more precious than a $100. We have faith in Jesus. By believing in Jesus, we will live forever in heaven someday. However, the devil is doing everything he can to blow our faith away. He uses lies so that we’ll gradually stop trusting in Jesus, or he uses temptations so that we’ll forget about Jesus. Just as we would want to keep our $100 from being blown away, so we want to make sure our faith doesn’t get blown away; and that’s what the sermon today is about. You can go back to your moms and dads now, but listen to how we can protect our faith. We Protect Our Faith with the Word. The Bible is like a rock holds down our faith because 1. the Bible is true. 2. the Bible shows us Jesus. There are a lot of Christians who don’t worry about their faith being blown away. They insist that they will always believe in Jesus no matter what. Well, a person can rightly say that if he’s truly in the Word and if he’s taking to heart this warning from the Word, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! – I Corinthians 10:12.” Perhaps one reason some don’t think this warning is meant for them, is they don’t understand what faith is. Faith is believing that Jesus is God, and that in man’s behalf God lived a holy life and then suffered hell in our place. Or, another way of thinking about it – faith is spiritual life, which the Holy Spirit gives us, so that we know who are Savior is, even if we don’t understand everything, and we love Him. Now, whoever has this love and trust in Jesus looks forward to His coming again in glory. But whoever’s faith is getting weak doesn’t look forward to His return or maybe doesn’t even think about it. As a result, Satan has a much easier time blowing that person’s faith away with his false doctrines and with the temptations of this world. On the other hand, when it’s clear in our minds that Jesus is coming soon, troubles won’t be as troublesome for us. Also, we’ll have greater strength and desire to do what’s right. And especially, whenever we get to be in church or in Bible class, we will say as Peter did on the mount of Transfiguration, “It is good, Lord, to be here.” So, then, how can we protect our faith, so that we will always look forward to His coming again? We protect our faith by means of the Word.Our text reads, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation.”Notice the underlined words all and no. Peter here is telling us most emphatically that all of the Bible, every word of it, is from God. Therefore, the Bible is not myths that the writers dreamed up to make a point or to gain attention for themselves. Rather the Bible is true factual history. But what about when science contradicts the Bible? Just as you wouldn’t let this $100 get blown away by the wind, don’t let Satan blow away your faith in Jesus. Rather hold down your faith with the Word, and trust God that He knows what He’s talking about, even if we don’t understand everything yet, count on it that in time we’ll find out that science does not get everything right, but God does. We read on in our text, “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” When Peter for example told Mark what happened on the Mount of Transfiguration, and Mark wrote it down in his Gospel, what Mark wrote was not Peter’s interpretation of that event, nor was it Mark’s interpretation of what Peter told him. Rather, what Mark wrote was what the Holy Spirit wanted him to write. Or here’s another example. When St. Paul urged husbands to serve their wives as Christ served the church, and when he urged wives to help their husbands, just as Christ did His Father’s will, Paul wasn’t giving us his ideas, nor was he simple expressing how people then felt about men and women. Whether it was Paul or Peter or any of the other Bible writers, the Holy Spirit led always them to choose the exact Hebrew or Greek word He wanted them to use, in order to express the exact truth God wanted us to have. The Bible protects our faith, because it is true. However, with so many different interpretations of the Bible, how do we know if our understanding of it correct? The devil would have us believe that we can’t be sure, and so all interpretations of the Bible should be regarded as just as good as another. For example, we interpret the Bible to say that Jesus is true God. Some interpret it to say He was a great teacher. These are not equal interpretations, are they? Or, we take Jesus at His Word that His body and blood are truly present with the bread and the wine in the Lord’s Supper. Others would say this body and blood are merely represented by the bread and the wine. However, are these differences of understanding really that important? God says they are. Paul writes in I Corinthians, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought – I Corinthians 1:10.” This unity of beliefs that God wants all Christians to have comes through carefully studying word meaning in its context and grammar, and so forth. On the other hand, when Christians get an “oh, whatever” attitude about what the Bible actually, Satan can blow away our confidence in what we believe. Ultimately, then, he can also blow away our confidence in Christ. However, what if we are reading and studying our Bible, but we feel we’re not getting that much out of it? Maybe we forget what we learned 5 minutes later. Or, maybe there are certain teachings of the Bible that just don’t make sense to us. Whenever this happens, it doesn’t mean we can’t have true faith. Rather it means we are human, or it means Satan is trying to blow away our faith. Either way, let’s hang in there and keep hearing and studying the Word, until Jesus shines in our hearts. We read, “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” The dark place is this sinful, unbelieving world. Sometimes the dark place is also our hearts, because our hearts get dark with doubts and with sinful desires. The morning star Peter mentions here is another name for Jesus. He’s called that, because during certain times of the year, a bright star can be seen on the horizon shortly before the sun comes up. By calling Jesus the morning star we’re reminded that He is coming soon. Now, how long are we to keep on reading and studying our Bibles? Until the morning star rises over this world – that is, until Jesus comes again in glory, or until He comes to us personally at the moment we die. Now, if we do that, the morning star will also shine more and more brightly in our heart. And if it shines more and more brightly in our hearts, it will shine more and more brightly in our lives as well. We read in our text, “We were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." The morning star shines in our heart when we realize why Jesus came here. He came here to live a holy life for us and to go Jerusalem to die for us. This matters to us, when the light of the Word shows us our sins and failures and how God feels about those sins and failures. Psalm 90 puts it this way. Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you. All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan.How much fear or respect do we owe God? A lot right? Higher than we can imagine! Well, that’s how high is anger is at our sinfulness. And so, we need forgiveness. We need strength to amend our lives. But God graciously gives us these because of Jesus – through His Word. In fact, all of the Bible is about repenting and receiving forgiveness. For example this Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. This year’s Lent theme is “Crossroads.” Will we allow our sins and failures to rule over us so that Satan can gradually blow away our faith? Or, will we continue to grow in faith in love for one another? Every day we’re at a crossroads. But now during Lent through our special services, we have a special opportunity to examine our lives in the light of His Word, and then also see the light of Jesus’ love for us. We do well to keep paying attention to this light until we are eager to see Jesus face to face. May God grant us that eagerness! Then Satan’s every attempt to confuse us with his lies will only drive us deeper into the Word. Also, his temptations will lose their appeal and we won’t want to give into them anymore. However, how long does our clarity that Jesus is coming again soon last? Maybe not too long! Maybe we have that clarity now, but within an hour it’s back into the world, where Satan will be blowing on our faith just as hard as he can. Yet don’t be afraid. Just as seeing Jesus’ transfiguration helped the disciples get through Holy Week, so may our seeing Jesus’ glory in His Word and in the Lord’s Supper help us through this week! And as for whatever we don’t understand yet or we forget and have to keep relearning, don’t give up on yourself! But keep on reading and studying the Word, and keep on taking it to heart until you can’t wait to see Jesus, and until you do see Him! Amen.

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