Sermon preached on 3/25/12.
Lectionary: Annunciation of the Lord
Sermon text: Hebrews 10:4-10
Excerpt: Jesus’ decision, God’s decision, is what makes us a Christian. God’s decision is what brings us to Christ. God’s decision is what keeps us in Christ. Not our own. If you could work for salvation, if you could work somehow to get God’s favor, then I’d tell you. Paul even says, “I was everything under the Law I could’ve been.” He says, “I was circumcised on the eighth day, I was an upstanding member of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews.” He says, “I was zealous in the Law, and in no way was found at fault. I was so zealous in my interpretation of the Law that I persecuted the Church.” He says, “And all of that meant nothing.” How, then, did he come to salvation? By the grace of God. And that’s how you come to salvation. That is how you become accepted to God. Not through any human action, not through any effort of yourself, but by the will of Christ. It’s not up to you.
Now, that’s the way it works. But what, then, does that require of us? Because, see, that’s the thing about a sermon like this. A sermon like this tells you, “Well, you don’t have to do anything.” But understanding that means that you’re safe. It means that you’re always safe. It means that even when you stray, even when you mess up, you’re safe. Christ is still there. And the early Christians had a problem with this, because they said, “Well, if I’m always safe, then I should do whatever I want.” Well, that’s like saying, “My momma and daddy will always love me, so I’ll do whatever I want.” No, you do what you’re supposed to do, you do what they raised you to do, to show that you appreciate their love. Not because it buys their love, but because it shows that you understand it. We act according to the dictates of Scripture and God’s will because we show that we are His. It is not that it makes us His, it is a reflection of the fact that we are His.
And we do not add on ourselves more. That was the other problem early Christians had. The Corinthian church was the one that decided to do whatever they wanted to, the Galatian church was the one that decided we need more laws, we need more rules. When we add rules to Christianity, when we add dictates that say, “You must believe this or you’re not a Christian, you must do this or you’re not a Christian, you must look this way or you’re not a Christian, you must act this way or you’re not a Christian,” or “If you’re not me, you’re not a Christian,” which is mostly what is being said. When we add those things on, we deny the grace of God. We deny the power of God. And that is actually closer to blasphemy than anything else. If the Bible teaches us that it is by the blood of Christ that we are saved, that it is not of our own works, but it is the gift of God, and that there is nothing that we can do to buy it, earn it or steal it, save merely believe it and accept it and it is ours, and that his righteousness is credited to us, if we say anything else, we have blasphemed. We have said God is a liar. We have said, “I know better than God.” We have said that it is not the blood of Christ, but my own merit that saves. And when we do that, we cease to act like a Christian. We cease to talk like a Christian.