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Author:Rev. Reuben Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Mt. Nasura
 Mt. Nasura, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/mountnasura/
 
Title:The Saving Confession: Jesus is Lord!
Text:LD 13 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Our Salvation
 
Preached:2016
Added:2016-10-16
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps 47:1,3                                                                                     

Hy 5:1,2,3,4  [after Apostles’ Creed]                                        

Reading – Romans 10:1-13; 1 Peter 1:13-25

Ps 49:2,3,4

Sermon – Lord’s Day 13

Hy 64:1,2

Hy 23:1,2,5,6

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Brothers and sisters, in Sunday worship we regularly confess our faith. Often we’ll do so with the Apostles’ Creed. It’s a beautiful confession—it’s also the shortest one we have. The Nicene Creed is only a bit longer, and the Athanasian a touch longer yet. Besides these, we have the (much, much larger) Reformed confessions: the Heidelberg Catechism, the Canons of Dort, and the Belgic Confession.

And it’s good to have these confessions. With them we summarize the main points of the Holy Scriptures, whether with twelve short articles (like in the Apostles’ Creed), or with 129 detailed Questions and Answers (in the Catechism). These are helpful, for if we as Christians say that we believe, then we need to say what we believe.

So what are we to do with Romans 10:9? There Paul says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” This, says Paul, is our confession. In a nutshell, it’s what you need to believe if you want to be saved: that Jesus is Lord, and God raised him from the dead. We find the same confession in 1 Corinthians 12, “No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy the Spirit” (v 3).

Of course we’d all agree: “Jesus is Lord!” Yet isn’t there more to the Christian faith than that? Even the shortest of our confessions, the Apostles’ Creed, is about twenty-five times longer than that. “Jesus is Lord” seems a tiny thumbnail of a sketch. And it’s certainly not intended as a summary of the whole Bible. Yet we can’t bypass it, for it does express an essential core of the Christian faith. In this connection I preach God’s Word to you as it is summarized in LD 13,

We confess that Jesus is Lord!

  1. the ransom
  2. the ransomer
  3. the ransomed

 

1. He is the ransom: I’m sure that most of us are familiar with the idea of a ransom. To ransom someone is to pay a price to redeem him; it’s to free a captive by payment.

For example, a ransom situation was at the heart of the story of Captain Philips. Who was Captain Philips? He was the American skipper of one of those huge container ships that sail the ocean blue. A few years ago, his ship was taken over by modern-day pirates off the coast of Somalia. The pirates set the ransom amount at ten million dollars, and said that they’d hold the ship until the price was paid. Then they held Captain Philips until the price was paid. In the end, they weren’t successful, but it illustrates how a ransom is supposed to work: if there’s payment, then there’s freedom.

In the Bible we don’t read much about kidnappers or pirates, but it does tell about ransoms. And the Scriptural idea of a ransom is pretty much the same as today. Scripture uses that concept to describe how by the paying of a price, God redeems his people from captivity.

For example, the prophet Isaiah speaks of this. He’s prophesying about those whom the LORD will rescue from their captivity in Babylon. And in chapter 51 Isaiah says: “The ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads” (v 11). No longer miserable prisoners, the people of God will rejoice in freedom!

And how will God ransom his chosen people from exile? In this case, God would make the other nations pay. For the Persians are going to come and they will conquer all of Israel’s opponents! As the LORD says through his prophet, “I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honoured in my sight, I will give men in exchange for you, people in exchange for your life” (43:3-4). Through the defeat of the other nations, Judah will go free. With those military losses as a kind of ransom, Judah will become “the ransomed of the Lord.”

Yet it was a limited freedom; for Judah it was a temporary release. It wasn’t long before their sin got them into trouble again, and they were conquered by other countries. That’s true for any earthly redemption, and monetary ransom. It’s effectiveness is limited—limited to this life! Meanwhile, there’s still eternity to think about. And compared to eternity, today really is only a passing moment, it’s the blink of an eye. We need to be ransomed forever, and all time.

That’s why we heard a note of despair when we sang from Psalm 49. There the Psalmist cries when he says, “No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him—the ransom for a life is costly. No payment is ever enough—that a person should live on forever and not see decay” (vv 7-9). The ransom for a life is costly, the Psalmist says. It’s too high to pay! No one can buy his own life back from judgment.

So what’s the real challenge that we face? The problem is that a ransom amount has to be suitable. There needs to be perfect match in value for the person who is being held—it has to be even-steven, otherwise there’s no release. And who decides the amount?

For humans, it’s arbitrary, kind of random. Think again of Captain Philips, from that container ship being held by pirates. Was his life on earth, his beating heart, worth ten million dollars? To those pirates, perhaps that’s all he was worth. To his wife and family, his life was probably worth much more. But who could say?

Ransoms set by humans are subject to negotiation. But not the one set by God. The LORD wants a fitting price—we said the exchange must be completely fair. And the price for our release, for our freedom, is life itself. What can set us free is not a monetary thing, not millions of dollars—says Peter and the Catechism, it’s paid “not with corruptible things like silver or gold” (1 Pet 1:18).

How do we know this? God has told us his terms in the Word, like in Ezekiel: “The soul who sins shall die.” Again, He has said in Romans, “The wages of sin—or: the price of sin—is death.” We are all sinners. And if we sinners want to be free from the judgment and death that our sin deserves, then we need a full payment made. And we come with a hefty price our head. Briefly, every man, woman, and child owes his life-everlasting to God.

That’s a steep price. It’s far more than we can ever hope to pay. We can’t pay it by doing good works. We can’t pay it by enduring physical and emotional pain. We’d never be done. We’d never be free from captivity.

So the good new is that God provides someone to present the price in full! That someone is his one and only Son, Jesus Christ. And the ransom was his own blood—which is a currency that will always be valued, always precious. As Peter writes, “You were… redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1:18-19). Which brings us to our second point,

 

2. Christ is the ransomer: When He was on earth, Jesus wasn’t drifting along, waiting for his purpose to become obvious. No, He knew that He was here for one main reason. This is what He declares in Mark 10, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (v 45).

Notice how Jesus describes his entire mission on earth: He came as a ransomer. I’m not sure if that’s a real word, but we use it to say this: Jesus was the one who paid our price to God! He brought the price, and the price was himself! As the Catechism puts it, “He has ransomed us body and soul, from all our sins… with his [own] precious blood” (Q&A 34).

As Jesus went to the cross, He was carrying in himself the one thing that could set God’s people free. He brought the life-blood that could save so many. He was willing to bring it before God, and pour it out completely.

And how it was poured! The ransom-blood flowed freely there at the cross, streaming out of all the cuts, and welts, and nail-holes, and spear-wounds in his body. Jesus had no more blood than you or I have in our bodies—anywhere from four to six liters. Not that much. But Jesus’ blood was ransom enough—ransom enough for you and for me, for every single sinner, numbering into the billions, for every last one.

Remember that the only reason that the blood was so precious was because of who poured it out. Our price is paid eternally and effectively because of him. For Jesus the man was perfectly righteous. And He was also perfectly the object of God’s justice. He was able to give his life as a ransom for many!

So let’s think about what happens after that transaction. Because it’s a very important point for our lives as Christians. What did the ransomer do, once the ransom-blood was delivered? Jesus wasn’t just a person doing his job, someone ready to call it a day when his work is done. Now that He’s handed over the ransom, the resurrected ransomer claims us. Now that He’s paid the price, He takes hold of us, and calls us his own possession. “You are mine,” He says. “I freed you, so now I own you, in body and soul.”

Saved by grace, our master is now Jesus, the Christ. And so we start to see how this is a simple, yet such a profound gospel-confession: “Jesus is Lord.” We start to see how this expresses the core of our faith: “Jesus is Lord.” For what is a lord? A lord is someone who has power and authority over another person. It’s someone with ownership over another.

Think about a setting of slavery, like in Roman times. Then, a lord had power and control over those slaves whom he has purchased. That morning he’d gone to the slave market, looked over the slaves for sale, picked some out, and handed over their price to the one selling. Almost as soon as the price was paid, if there were chains, they would be unlocked and removed—it was a kind of freedom. But the one who bought them they’d now have to call “lord.” By the afternoon of that same day they’d have to do exactly the things that this lord commanded. Because he’d bought them, He owned them.

That’s not so different from how Jesus is Lord. Over us He’s got full authority and power. He’s freed us from our chains, yes, but now we’re his possession—his servants. And He’s not some merciless master, one who’s cruel to those he owns. Rather, Jesus the Lord preserves and values us. He values us because He’s paid such a high price for us.

It’s how we treasure our possessions today. If we’ve paid a lot for something, we take good care of it. A young person who saved up for a new pair of soccer shoes will try to keep those shoes looking good. Someone with a mortgage on their house will take care of that house, maintain it, try protect it from fire and other damage. Because their house is worth something, they invest in its care. Christ will always look out for us, guard and keep us, because of our great value! We have value: not a few hundred thousand dollars, not even ten million, but value of another kind. Because He gave his own life in our place.

Consider the rich comfort here, beloved. If you ever need a defense against the devil’s attacks (and of course you do), Christ will help you. If you ever need help to live a better and a holier Christian life (of course you do), your Lord will assist. If you need mercy in your failings, if you need wisdom for knowing his will, if you need daily strength for the battle, your Lord will grant it when you humbly ask. Because you’re his! And finally, on the day you die, your Lord will claim you before the Father: “This one belongs to me. I paid for him.”

Can you hear how Lord’s Day 13 is an echo of Lord’s Day 1? “What’s your only comfort?” is the question with which the Catechism begins. “That I am not my own, but I belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.” That’s our Christian confession: “‘I belong.’ So by his Father’s hand Christ always preserves me. With his Spirit He powerfully assures me, and He also makes me ready to live for him.”

In the eyes of our Saviour, we’re not insignificant, disposable, worthless. Because of the blood, we’re worth the investment of keeping and protecting and building up, at all costs! And Christ will. He paid too much for us to let us go.

“Jesus is Lord.” The early church made this confession, because Jesus had become their new master. And they confessed this, because they learned that this Jesus is also God. Think of how the same name, “the Lord” is found on every page of the Old Testament. When you read that name, you see how the LORD is the creator of heaven and earth. The LORD is the God of the covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This LORD is Israel’s God and their only Saviour.

So when Jesus came to earth, and showed himself to be the divine Son of God, it was only right that He also be called Lord. The LORD, the Creator of the universe, the God of the covenant—He’s one and the same being as Jesus of Nazareth, that lowly man who died on the cross. He and the Father are one.

Jesus is LORD. He is God. He who is God humbled himself and became man, so He could pour out all that blood! And that’s the real miracle of our salvation, isn’t it? God in Christ was the ransom, and He was the ransomer, and God was the one receiving the ransom—doing it all. Doing it on behalf of a helpless, sinful humanity!

For this miracle of God’s grace, we praise the Triune God. We ought to devote our lives to the thanksgiving of his name. Listen to the heavenly choirs sing to the Lord Jesus in Revelation 5:9, “You are worthy… because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God” (Rev 5:9). With his blood He purchased us, that we might be “a kingdom and priests to serve our God” (v 10). A kingdom of holy priests to serve our God: that’s the calling of those who are ransomed.

 

3. We are the ransomed: So whatever happened to the kidnapped Captain Philips, the one from that container ship? He was freed, not by cash, but by bullets. Once he was freed, he went back home. Then—the story goes—he returned to doing what he did before, sailing those big ships around the world. But, like we said before, in our redemption there’s a difference. Once we are set free we don’t just go back to our regular life. Those ransomed by the Lord become something new—we become slaves of Jesus Christ.

That’s the calling for every one of us. Through the blood of the cross, we’re now the possession of Jesus Christ—we’re his servants, his slaves. And it’s simply really: what our Lord says, we must do. What our Lord desires, we must seek. Christ looks at our life and everything in it, and He says, “That’s mine. It belongs to me. Because I bought you completely. For you I shed my precious blood.” The Lord Jesus looks at your life, and everything in it, and He’s got something to say about it all.

Think of how Paul was always eager to introduce himself in his letters. In almost every one, he says that he is “Paul, a servant—or a slave—of Christ Jesus…” He saw himself as one entirely in the possession of someone else. And Paul saw himself like this, not just because God gave him a special task. Paul was a slave because of what Christ had done for him, a sinner. He’d bought him with blood, set him free from bondage. Now with his whole life Paul was called to the service of a new master.

That’s such a privilege and gift, not just for Paul, but for all of us. Christ freeing us means no more pointless life of sin, and no more misery of serving ourselves! It’s true, sin looks like freedom at first—we’re at liberty to do just whatever we want. We’ll make our own rules, live by our own timetable, set our own priorities. At first, it seems like we couldn’t be happier—but sin always ends in ruin. Your life will never be better if you persist in sin. Actually, your life will end in death if you remain in your sin!

This is why we’re happy to renounce our personal freedom in Lord’s Day 1. There we say, “I am not my own.” Or like Paul reminds the church in 1 Corinthians 6, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.”

We do need to hear that, and often: “You’re not your own.” Because old habits die hard. Even as Christians, we’re inclined to think only of ourselves. We always want to make sure that we’re happy and secure. So let’s practice self-forgetfulness: not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less! Confess in all humility and self-denial, “I am not my own. This life isn’t about me. Instead, Jesus is Lord. I belong to him. I’m alive for him. I was bought at a price, so I’ll honour him with my body, and my mind, and everything.”

Live like someone who’s been freed—suddenly, undeservedly, permanently freed from eternal chains! Live in joy. Live in humility. Live in the daily awareness that we owe the Lord a debt of eternal thanks. If you’ve been redeemed by Christ, this holy resolve has to be the result in you: that you’re “heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him” (Q&A 1).

Live for Christ, in the quiet moments of your day, in the moments that are unseen by all but God. Live for Christ in the midst of your family, honouring your parents, loving and respecting your spouse, nurturing your children. Live for Christ in this church community, accepting one another, forgiving one another, serving one another. Live for him among your neighbors, showing and telling them about Christ’s love.

It’s a little confession, but it really does get to the very heart of the Christian faith: “Jesus is Lord.” Because with this confession, we’re reminded how much He’s done for us—that for us  He even gave his precious blood, poured it unto death. And with this confession, we’re reminded of what He wants from us. He wants us to get to work, to be servants of a generous Master.

Confess it then, with your mouth: “Jesus is Lord.”

Believe it in your heart: “Jesus is Lord.”

And live these words out, every day of your life: “Jesus is my Lord.”  Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: http://frcmn.org/sermons/

(c) Copyright 2016, Rev. Reuben Bredenhof

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