God Saved Us to Believe It.

by Pastor Edwin Lehmann on April 10, 2021 in

Second Sunday of Easter – Quasi Modo Geniti                                                          April 11, 2021
Text: 1 John 5:1-6                                          ILCW – B                                             21:2255
Theme: God Saved Us to Believe It.

How would you complete this phrase: “God saved us to….”? There are several ways that you could complete that sentence. But considering the theme of faith that is dominant in all the lessons today, I would finish the sentence: “God saved us…to believe it.”
He didn’t bring about this great salvation for us to ignore it. He didn’t sacrifice His only begotten Son for us to question it. He didn’t raise Christ from the dead for us to doubt if it is true. He saved us to believe it. If we don’t believe “we are the most pitiful people of all” (1Co.15:19). Like Thomas we will wander about in the darkness of doubt and despair.
Doubt is a terrible thing for if you do not stand firm in your convictions, you will fall for anything. Doubt hinders confident, positive action in life. Doubt is to faith like rust is to steel.
The first car I ever owned was a 1968 Rambler American. It wasn’t a fancy car; it wasn’t a muscle car; it wasn’t a fast car. Some of you more in-the-know about cars might even chuckle at it. But I’ll tell you, it was a durable car. That car ran and ran and ran for me without my doing much work to it. It might still be running today except for one thing that did it in – salt. The salt on the snowy streets of WI caused it to rust, and the rust slowly but surely ate away the car’s body. Rust destroys things.
Like rust is to steel, doubt is to faith. If doubt continues, it will eat away and destroy faith. And not just faith, but life itself, the abundant life that God wants to give us through the risen Savior.

I. …So that He might transform us.
Sadly, that’s a big part of the Easter story. All the disciples were at some time afflicted with doubt. But for Thomas who would not let go of his doubt, it was worse. Weighed down with doubt, he was falling from faith: “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe it” (Jn.20:25). (lit., “not, not believe”)
To lay down conditions (“unless”) is a declaration of unbelief because faith is not based on a sight test or a touch test. Like Paul said, “We live by faith, not by sight (1Co.5:7).” And again, “Faith is being sure about what we hope for, being convinced about things we do not see” (Hb.11:1). To demand to see or touch something as a condition for faith isn’t faith. It’s a good thing the Savior went to work to transform Thomas’ heart for he was in a bad state.
When Jesus goes to work, things change. Thomas was absent Easter evening when the risen Lord appeared to the other disciples. We don’t know where he was, but he seems to have given up his dreams about Jesus. He certainly had given up trusting Him. When Thomas returned, the other disciples ran to him with joy, “We saw the Lord Jesus alive.” Thomas shook his head in doubt, “No. I won’t believe that till I can put my fingers into the nail holes in His hands and reach into the gash in His side.” Doubt ate away like rust on steel. It was destroying his faith. And he did nothing about it.
A week later the disciples were together again. This time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked. Suddenly the Lord Jesus stood in their midst. “Peace be with you.” He approached Thomas directly and said, “Put your finger here. Touch my hands. Feel the wound in my side. Stop doubting and believe.” When the Lord ministered to him in such a way, He transformed Thomas for Thomas confessed, “My Lord, and my God.”
When the risen Lord ministers to us, He seeks to drive away the unbelief that plague us. After all, God saved us not to doubt but to believe it so that He might transform us into people who trust Him, love Him, find their rest in Him, obey Him and live for Him, people who show that they are His by how they treat others. He transforms us from self-centered people into outward looking folk who give of themselves as Christ gave of Himself to us. When we are so transformed, then we truly live in Him for there is more to the life He gives than we tend to think.
Life in a risen Savior means life in heaven later on; but it also means life in Him now (Ro.6). Too often we grossly underestimate what the resurrection means for us in the present. John writes in our text, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the God who has given birth, loves one who has been born of Him. This is how we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commands. This is love for God: that we keep His commands.”
If the Lord Jesus has chased away your unbelief and you have been born again through faith in the risen Savior, you love God. And if you love God for the forgiveness and life He has given you in Christ, you will love people. It can’t be any other way. You love the Father, you love His children too. It’s like a seamless garment; they are not two separate entities. Real faith and real love are inseparable. They are like heads and tails on the same coin – two faces of the same power.
So, if we harbor resentment and anger in our hearts against any of God’s children, our faith is not complete and unbelief is eating away within us for you see, in light of John’s words, God’s goal in saving us through Christ’s resurrection was not merely negative – to get us out of hell. Oh, He desperately wanted that – to get us back with Him in heaven. But there’s more. His goal was not only to get us out of hell, but to take us back to where Adam and Eve were in the beginning. He saved us to believe it so that He might transform us into something positive – people who think and act like He does, people who gladly and joyfully keep His commands to love Him above all things and to love their neighbor in every way. That’s the full life that is ours in a risen Savior.
Imagine how much different our lives would be if every one of us joyfully kept His commands. Imagine how much more enjoyable and easier it would be if we no longer had to experience disrespect, violence, unfaithfulness, stealing, bad-mouthing, and evil desires. What a joy that type of life would be.
It is to such a life the risen Lord Jesus calls us in faith. His goal was not only to get us out of hell, but He saved us to believe so that He might transform us into people who think and act like He does. In that He shares His triumph with us in the present.

II. …So that He might share His triumph with us.
John writes, “And His commands are not burdensome, because everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” What is this triumph like? Let me begin to illustrate it with a story.
It is a true story about two college friends who went out one Saturday night to a party with friends. They had promised their parents there would be no drinking at the party, but that’s not how it turned out. In the middle of the night the friends jumped into a jeep. The driver lost control and crashed. One recovered from the crash; the other didn’t. He died from his injuries.
At the funeral the friend who drove stood by the casket in sorrowful silence. The mother of the boy who didn’t make it embraced him and whispered, “I forgive you. My boy loved you and I love you too.” That young man said when his friend’s mother told him that it was as if she had put air back into his lungs.
Such forgiveness in the face of such a loss is rare. You will hardly hear news accounts of it. People don’t seem to forgive very readily today. How could she so easily? She explained, “I’m, a sinful person whom God sent His Son to save and forgive, too. I’m not worthy of such salvation. Yet, Christ Jesus triumphed for me. If He could so easily share that triumph with me, why wouldn’t I share that forgiveness?” As a Christian she knew what it meant to live victoriously – what it meant to overcome the world today.
God saved us to believe it so that He might share His triumph with us in similar ways. Those who look to the risen Savior in faith live victoriously. The world with its sorrows and pain does not overcome them, for Christ has overcome the world for them. They know it, they believe it, and so they live it. It influences how they think and talk and interact with others. Because Christ forgave us, we know how to forgive others, and how to endure pain and hardship without despairing or turning bitter. But doubt Christ and His victory for you, and the life of unbelief prevails. It will eat away at you and may destroy you, for doubt in the power of the risen Savior is to faith as rust is to steel.
God grant us all an Easter faith in the victory Christ won for us over sin, death, and the devil. For God saved us to believe it so that He might transform our lives and share His triumph with us. God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.


Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield

(A member congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod)

4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)

Church phone:   417.887.0886                 Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244

www.zionluthchurch.com                         email: revelehmann@gmail.com

 The Second Sunday of Easter: Quasi Modo Geniti        April 11, 2021   

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29

F o r   O u r     V i s i t o r s

The family of Zion welcomes you as we worship the Lord today. We encourage children to worship with us. However, if you need to leave with your child, there is a nursery room to the right as you exit the sanctuary. The rest rooms are located in the hallway between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall. Visitors, please sign our guest book to the right, just outside the sanctuary. We’re glad that you are here and pray that through our worship the Lord grants you peace.

U p o n   E n t e r i n g   G o d’ s   H o u s e

“Like newborn babies, crave the pure milk of the Word so that by it you may grow up with the result being salvation. Certainly, you have tasted that the Lord is good! Sing a loud song to God, our strength. Shout to the God of Jacob!” (1 Peter 2:2-3; Psalm 81:1)

W h a t   T h i s     S u n d a y   i s   A b o u t

Blessed Are Those Who Believe. The day of Easter is past, but not its blessings.   Christians still bask in the warmth and glow of Christ’s resurrection. Because He lives, we have peace and joy, knowing that in His forgiveness and love we can face today and tomorrow in renewed confidence and hope.   As we continue in faith, nothing can shake us – no matter what trial might arise in life. He is ours and we are His, now and forever. Blessed are those who believe!

But for those who refuse to believe the resurrection, only sadness, gloom, and uncertainty await. Lord, preserve us from such unbelief which loses the blessings that the risen Christ won for us.

So it is that we pray: O risen Lord, You came to Your disciples and took away their fears with Your word of peace. Come to us also by Word and Sacrament and banish our fears with the comforting assurance of Your abiding presence; for You live and reign now and forever.   Amen.

– T h e   W o r d   o f   G o d   f o r   T o d a y –

The First Lesson: Acts 3:12-20          

After healing a crippled beggar, Peter points to the source of healing, the risen Lord Jesus. The Jews had disowned and killed Him, but God raised Him from the dead.   Peter calls on the crowd to repent and points them to faith in Christ so that times of healing and refreshment may come.

 The Epistle Lesson: 1 John 5:1-6

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God shares in His victory over sin, death, and the devil. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ loves God and carries out His commands to love His children. Such love is the evidence of faith and overcomes the world.

 The Gospel Lesson: John 20:19-31    

On the first Easter evening, Jesus appeared to His disciples to calm their fears and send them out with the power of His forgiveness (Ministry of the Keys). We see the results of faith and unbelief in a risen Savior.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Organist: Jane Rips (is not here today)              

The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann

 Points to Ponder: “Christ gives point and purpose to our lives.   Have you found that He is the central Refuge of our lives to whom we flee for peace, strength, and reassurance?   The ancient church father, St. Augustine, once said, ‘Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.’ Put your heart to rest in the risen Christ, and it will be kept by Him in perfect peace.”

— Herman Gockel on Rest for Restless Hearts

“Cursed be the life that a man lives only for himself and not for his fellow man. On the other hand, blessed be the life in which a man does not live for and serve himself but his fellow man….The greatest of all services I can render my fellow man is proclaiming to him the Gospel, telling him to cling to the works of Christ and firmly believe that Christ’s righteousness is his. This is the greatest of all services – to free my fellow man from sin and to liberate him from the devil and hell.”

— Martin Luther on John 20:19-31

 Outline of Our Worship

 Lord, Hear Us

Opening Thoughts on the Service

Entrance Hymn: #160

Order of Worship:  Hymnal page 38“Service of the Word”

Lord, Feed Us

Acts 3:12-20

Psalm of the Day: #16     Hymnal page 68

1 John 5:1-6

Hymn Response: #159

John 20:19-31

Sermon Hymn: #165 st.1-5

Sermon Text: 1 John 5:1-6     God Saved Us to…

Lord, Accept Our Response

 Confession of Faith: insert     “The Ministry of the Keys”

Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer. pg.43

Hymn: #165 st.8-9

Lord, Bless Us

Closing Prayer & Blessing:   Hymnal pages 43-44

Silent Prayer


The Use of the Keys

Keys can open doors and lock them. Those who possess keys possess a great deal of responsibility.   They need to know when a door should be unlocked and when it should be shut tight.

God gives believers in Jesus the keys to open and close the door of heaven. Jesus said: “I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.”

(Matt.16:19)

It might not seem right that God should give these keys to people. How can human beings ever handle this responsibility? Thankfully, God tells us in His Word exactly how to use the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.

The power and right to forgive sins is the loosing key. It opens the door to heaven, declaring the person free from the guilt and punishment of sin. The power and right to refuse to forgive sins is the binding key. It locks the door of heaven, binding the person to the guilt and condemnation of his or her sin. Jesus said: Whenever you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven. Whenever you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. (John 20:23)

Some people don’t believe that their sins are serious or even that they have sinned. Others are driven to despair when they think of their sins. Jesus has given the keys to the Church in order to address the spiritual needs of both kinds of people.   Martin Luther commented on this: “God gave the key which binds so that we might not remain too confident in our sins, arrogant, barbarous, and without God; and the key which looses so that we should not despair in our sins.”

Since Christ Himself has established this, the use of the keys by believers is as valid and certain in heaven also, as if Christ, our dear Lord, dealt with us Himself.

Luther’s Catechism, NPH 2017

The Ministry of the Keys

As the head of the family should teach them in the simplest way to those in his household.

THE KEYS:

Pastor: First: What is the use of the keys?

The Use of the Keys is that special power and right which Christ gave to His church on earth: to forgive the sins of penitent sinners but refuse forgiveness to the impenitent as long as they do not repent.

All: Where is this written?

         The holy evangelist John writes in chapter 20: “[Jesus] breathed on [His disciples] and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’”

 THE PUBLIC USE OF THE KEYS:

Pastor:  Second: How does a Christian congregation use the Keys?

A Christian congregation with its called servant of Christ uses the Keys in accordance with Christ’s command by forgiving those who repent of their sin and are willing to amend, and by excluding from the congregation those who are plainly impenitent that they may repent. I believe that when this is done, it is as valid and certain in heaven also, as if Christ, our dear Lord, dealt with us Himself.

All: Where is this written?

         Jesus says in Matthew, chapter 16, “Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.”         


The Second Sunday of Easter – Series B

The First Lesson: Acts 3:12-20 Peter Preaches Faith in Jesus’ Name

12When Peter saw this, he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this? Why are you staring at us, as if by our own power or godliness we have made this man walk? 13The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and disowned in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you. 15You killed the Author of Life, whom God raised from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16And on the basis of faith in his name, it is the name of Jesus that has strengthened this man, whom you see and know. This faith that comes through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you. 17“Now brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, just like your leaders. 18But in this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through the mouth of all the prophets: that his Christ would suffer. 19Therefore repent and return to have your sins wiped out, 20so that refreshing times may come from the presence of the Lord and that he may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you.”

Epistle Lesson: 1 John 5:1-6 Faith, the Victory that Overcomes the World

1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the God who has given birth also loves one who has been born of him. 2This is how we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep his commands. 3In fact, this is love for God: that we keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4because everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith. 5Who is the one who overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 6This is the one who came by water and blood: Jesus Christ. He did not come by the water alone but by the water and by the blood. The Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

Gospel Lesson: John 20:19-31 The Disciples and Finally Thomas Believe

19On the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were together behind locked doors because of their fear of the Jews. Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you!” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you! Just as the Father has sent me, I am also sending you.” 22After saying this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23Whenever you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven. Whenever you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

24But Thomas, one of the Twelve, the one called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25The other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26After eight days, his disciples were inside again; Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Take your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue to doubt, but believe.”28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me, you believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30Jesus, in the presence of his disciples, did many other miraculous signs that are not written in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019 The Wartburg Project.


C a l e n d a r     &     A n n o u n c e m e n t s     f o r     Z i o n     L u t h e r a n     C h u r c h

 

Today

April 11

Mon

April 12

Tues.

April 13

Wed.

April 14

Thurs.

April 15

Fri.

April 16

Sat.

April 17

Next Sun.

April 18

9:00 am

Divine Worship Service

on line – Facebook

10:15 am

Fellowship & Brief Bible Study

 

Easter 2

  6:30 pm

Monthly Church Council

 

 

 

 

11 am

Midweek Bible Class

5 pm

Confirmation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9:00 am

Divine Worship Service with Holy Communion

on line – Facebook

10:15 am

Fellowship & Brief

Bible Study

 

Easter 3

 

A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today

Our faith is based on Jesus, our risen Lord. We cannot see Him. We cannot touch Him. We have not yet experienced the joy that will be ours in heaven. We come to know and trust in Him as our Savior only through the precious Gospel that is revealed to us in the words of Scripture.

The Epistle Lesson (1 John 5:1-6) (answers are found on the back side)

  1. According to verses 2 and 3, now that we believe in Jesus as our Savior, what does that faith lead us to do?
  2. What does Paul mean in verse six when he says that Jesus came by water and blood?

Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Dea Windsor; Clyde Johnson; Dave Ballou; Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; Bill Buchanan; Norine Richardson; Barbara Long; Jodi Milam; William Moon; Patsy Mickelson, Jane Rip’s mother; Lance Milam; Jodi Milam, recovering from knee replacement surgery; and all those affected and recovering from the virus.

Forward in Christ’s latest issue for April has arrived. There are copies for family and friends in the narthex. Copies of the Daily Devotions written by pastor this past week on Psalm 16 will also be found in the narthex.

Virus Restrictions Somewhat Lifted Although the Springfield/Greene County Health Department relaxed its occupancy restrictions this past week, the masking ordinance is still in effect for a short time yet. You will find masks, disposable gloves, and sanitizer in the narthex and the fellowship hall for your use.   It would still be wise to observe physical distancing as much as possible until more vaccinations have been completed. Even then we have heard that it is not known if those vaccinated may still be able to transmit the virus to others. We continue to not pass the offering plate during the service, but you will find it at the door upon leaving the sanctuary.

Upcoming Dates

Tuesday, April 13 – Monthly Church Council Meeting

Sunday, April 18 – 1st Quarter Voters & Women Working For Christ Meetings after worship

Saturday, April 24 – LWMS Spring Rally here at Zion

The Week in Review

Last Sunday’s Worship Attendance: 37; Easter Brunch: 23; Offering: $1,337; Midweek Bible Class: 6; Good Friday Tenebrae Service: 13; Communed: 12; Offering: $735.

                                                                      Next Sunday’s Lessons:                                             

Easter 3: Acts 4:8-12; 1 John 1:1-2:2; Luke 24:36-49 (Series B)

 Answers to Today’s Epistle Lesson Brief Study:

  1. Faith leads us to love God and obey His commandments.
  2. Water is a reference to Jesus’ baptism and blood is a reference to His sacrificial death on the cross. John wrote this letter as a reaction to those who were teaching that Jesus was not true God, but only true man. They were teaching that God somehow descended upon Jesus after His baptism and left Him before He died. John tells us that Jesus is God’s eternal Son made man. As true God and true man, Jesus lived, suffered and died for our sins.

    This week I am praying for……


 

Pastor Edwin Lehmann

Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann