Online Worship for Easter Six, Sunday May 9, 2021
Sermon for Easter Six – Sunday before the Ascension
May 9, 2021 ● Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ, who became for us wisdom from God -- and righteousness and sanctification and redemption – that as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’ (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)
Jeremiah 9:23–24 (NKJV)
23 Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.
In the Name of Jesus Christ,
Who is our Master, Savior and Teacher,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –
How many times does it have to happen before we learn?
Well, that depends on the lesson…it usually only takes touching a hot stove once for a young child to learn not to do it again. Likewise, in the same way, getting shocked once is normally a sufficient learning experience to teach a child not to play with electricity.
Pain has a way of impressing the lesson into one’s memory. This is also part of the reason that spanking can be an effective tool for correcting a child.
On the other hand…there are some lessons that we just don’t seem to learn. We often fall into the same sins, over and over again. We know we shouldn’t speak that unkind word…but before you know it we hear the hurtful words proceeding from our mouths.
We just don’t seem to learn…we aren’t the only ones.
The Lord sent the Prophet Jeremiah to speak words of warning and judgment to a people who…didn’t learn.
God warned them when they came into the Promised Land that if they married unbelieving and idolatrous spouses, their hearts would be turned from Him (Deuteronomy 7:1ff). They didn’t listen. They didn’t learn when they saw Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, turn from the Lord because of it (1 Kings 11:4).
They watched as the LORD allowed Israel, the Northern Kingdom, to be carried off as slaves. This happened because Israel was unfaithful to God, choosing instead to worship Baal and Molech, false gods dreamed up by ungodly men. Sadly, Judah didn’t learn, but fell into the same sins of unfaithfulness and idolatry.
What happened? They submitted to human wisdom. They allowed themselves to be taught by the ungodly. They were deceived by one of Satan’s most successful lies: “It doesn’t matter what god you serve.” They put themselves and their own desires before the LORD and His Word. They lived for this world, and boasted in themselves, in their wisdom, might and riches….all of which were wanting.
These things have been written…so that we learn. For it is written (1 Corinthians 10:6-11):
11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
Therefore, we pray that God the Holy Spirit help us to learn from their folly through the Word of God. This morning we are reminded that one of the goals of Christian Education is to teach us to boast in the LORD…and not in our wisdom, strength or wealth.
So may the Spirit soften and dissolve our pride, leading us to boast in the Lord Christ…who is from God our wisdom, strength and wealth. Amen.
It is the time of year when advice is given freely. When students reach different milestones in their educational lives, we want to offer them words of wisdom. We urge those who are confirmed to continue in His Word. We congratulate those who graduate from High School and College. We use clichés and tell them that their whole lives are before them. We offer advice. Our advice is opinion, the result of our experiences in life.
The Words we consider this morning are not opinion. These are the words of God given to the Prophet Jeremiah. They were not only meant for the wayward nation of Judah, but are also meant for us, here, today.
23 Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom…
Pride is and always has been and until Christ’s return will be a problem with human beings. We tend to boast about ourselves and what we know. We boast about our accomplishments. We offer opinions as fact in matters where we are not experts. It is common in our world for the wise and learned, people with letters behind their names, to glory in their wisdom, in what they know…without any recognition that intellect and intelligence is a gift of God.
There are many who are more intelligent that you and I, who understand subjects that we don’t begin to understand…yet are deficient in the one thing needful, the Word of Christ.
The LORD says that the wise man should not glory in his wisdom.
Why? Human wisdom falls short and gives poor guidance when it comes to obtaining and maintaining a right relationship with God. If you were to collect Carl Sagan and put together a think tank of people the world considers wise and sequester them in a room, asking them to explain how a sinner can be right with God…you’d get raised eyebrows and shrugs and wrong answers. Sinful Human wisdom cannot properly answer the question.
The Apostle Paul explains (1 Corinthians 1:21-25, ESV):
21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
I’m not suggesting that higher learning is a waste of time. It has its place in this world, but only the wisdom of God leads to life eternal. We learn of God not to boast in what we know…but who we know. The LORD God also warns about boasting in our strength.
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
When I was a child, my brother and I would pretend that we were superheroes. We would don towels as capes and run around the yard fighting evil and accomplishing great feats of strength with imaginary super powers. We imagined what it would be like to be faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. We would be famous.
In real life, we are all impressed with human strength and power. Those who are physically strong are often held in high esteem – think of professional athletes. They dedicate themselves; they train to be stronger than the next athlete. They very often boast in themselves, in their strength and ability…as if there were no God…only them. Oh, some give glory to God…but far more boast in themselves and their might.
The LORD God says that the mighty should not glory in his might or strength.
Why? Well, even if you are the strongest human being on the face of the earth…there are still many who are mightier…including our enemy the Devil. Satan is more than our match and the littlest of his temptations result in sin. Even if you can lift thousands of pounds…still at the end of the day your strength fails and you must lie down and sleep to regain your energies.
No strong person ought to boast of his strength…for human strength is nothing in comparison to God. Moreover, without God none of us could rise to do the simplest of tasks. The LORD God teaches us in His Word to humble ourselves, to know our sins and weaknesses…and turn to Him who is strong.
We have no power to lift our burden of sin or remove our guilt. There is only one man who can remove them from us, the God-man, Jesus Christ. Finally, we are warned about boasting in our things.
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
Bling…Ka-ching...Cash…dough. We live in the richest country in the world. It’s the American dream to get rich and own a big house. Who would dispute that for most in our society it’s how much you make and what you have that matters?
Our society by and large would like to be in the shoes of the rich fool in Jesus’ parable, who said (Luke 12:19):
“Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years;
relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’
Greed is a powerful thing in the hearts and lives of sinful human beings. The Bible teaches plainly that the sinful desire for money and things leads to all manner of sin (1 Timothy 6:6-8). It is the short-sighted way of human beings to always make the gift more important than the giver.
The LORD God says that the rich should not glory in his accumulated wealth.
Why? Well, first of all, the earth is the LORD’s and everything in it (Psalm 19:1). The things that we have, whether much or miniscule; are given to us by God out of His storehouse. When money becomes the most important thing to us…it becomes a competitor with God Himself. When money is given too great a place in our lives…it becomes our god…and it is a god that cannot save.
I don’t dispute that you work hard to earn your wages, and with them purchase what you have…but it is still GOD who gives you the health and strength to arise and labor each day.
The LORD wants us to look beyond the gift to the GIVER. Godly wisdom teaches us that everything we have is a gift of God.
Thus we are warned about thinking too much of three things, human wisdom, strength and riches. We are warned because none of these things can save us from judgment and destruction. It will not matter how much you know or how intelligent you are on the Day of God. It will not help you to be the strongest man on earth, for you cannot arm-wrestle God for a place in heaven. Furthermore, there is no bank in heaven, no place to deposit and store earthly riches.
The LORD God once said through Solomon (Proverbs 11:2, ESV):
When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom.
Those who boast in their own wisdom, strength or riches…boast in thing that cannot deliver them. Safety and deliverance from judgment is to be found only in knowing the LORD by faith.
There is only one boast that God invites…He invites us to boast in Him.
24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.
We are to be proud and boast of only one thing…that we by God’s grace understand and know the LORD. This ‘knowing’ is more than a casual knowledge of His existence, but trusting in Him, clinging to Him by Faith. All the wisdom and strength and riches and knowledge in the world without Christ…will not deliver on the Day of God.
What does it mean to know the LORD, to know His loving kindness, judgment and righteousness?
It means that we trust in…
His Loving-kindness, His Grace. We discover through a Christian Education that it was God’s loving-kindness, His undeserved love that moved Him to repair our relationship with him that had been ruined by sin. He loved us and sent His only beloved son to die for sinners like us to deliver us.
It means that we trust in…
His judgment that is His justice. We discover through a Christian Education that our Just God did not overlook sin, but atoned for it. Since He could not rescind His demand that we be holy, He satisfied his own justice by sending Christ to take on human flesh and blood and be perfect where we have not been. He satisfied his justice by holding his son accountable, and laying upon Him the judgment of us all.
It means, finally, that we trust in…
His Righteousness. One of the greatest gifts given is to know that Christ’s perfect life is credited to our account and we are clothed in His perfection so that we can stand before God and escape the coming judgment.
To know the LORD is to trust His Loving-kindness, his judgment and his righteousness.
Moreover, those who know the LORD…also practice these virtues…kindness, justice and righteousness. We strive with the help of God to respond to anger with kindness. We strive to obey the laws of the land, because our just God has placed the government over us. We will daily confess our sins and pray that our sins be covered in Christ’s righteousness…for only then will we be delivered from the coming judgment and doom.
If Judah had learned to boast in the Lord and rely on His loving-kindness, justice and righteousness, then she would have not fallen into judgment. God judged Judah because she swallowed faulty earthly wisdom that says: “All gods are acceptable.” “You can make up for your wrongs by your strength.” “It’s what you have that counts.” God preserve us from accepting the same faulty earthly wisdom and forsaking the LORD.
On the other hand, may God grant that we be well pleasing to Him. God is well pleased…He says so Himself here…with those who boast in Him, with those who rejoice in Him. He is delighted when we are moved to humble ourselves before His Word (Isaiah 66:2) and look to Him for strength and be led to consider our salvation in Christ…our wealth and greatest treasure.
This is the goal of Christian Education…to lead us by the Spirit to know the LORD by faith and make our boast in His grace, justice and righteousness.
Let this also be the one gift above all we would give to our children and grandchildren.