Sermon for the Sunday after Epiphany
SERMON FOR EPIPHANY ONE – JANUARY 12, 2020
Original 1/9/11 – Calvary/Marquette -- Soli Deo Gloria
6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
1 John 5:11-13 (NKJV)
11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
In the Name of Jesus Christ,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in Him –
Have all the Christmas presents been opened at your house? Are all of those gifts still in working order…or are some already broken or lost? Was it necessary that you return some gifts because they didn’t fit properly? Do you have one of those gifts with you today?
I won’t ask WHO gave the gifts you received…because despite the name behind the ‘from’ on the gift tag, you know that everything you have comes from God. The Psalmist David said (Psalm 24:1, NIV):
“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…”
The Epistle of James also reminds us of the origin of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17, NKJV):
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
When we think of gifts (especially this time of year) we think of things that come wrapped in boxes. These are gifts of an earthly nature that very often don’t last and need to be replaced.
In the Word of God before us this morning, the Apostle John speaks to us of God’s Gift. He tells us what God has given us and reveals why this Gift is the one gift that we can’t afford to lose.
May God the Holy Spirit use these words to encourage and embolden us to take the nourishment of our faith life seriously! Amen.
Let me take you back to your Christmas Gifts for a moment. Did you know what you were getting beforehand?
Do gift-givers usually offer you a preview of what is coming in their gift-boxes? Do they start dropping hints in mid-July about what you will find under the tree? Has anyone offered you a hint of what they are planning to give you NEXT Christmas? Well…not usually. We may have an idea about the contents of some of the boxes, but unless we see the gift before its wrapped we can’t really be sure about what is within… until it is opened.
When we give gifts, the only preview we usually offer is found on the tag, in just a few words. Therefore those who receive gifts from us are surprised by what they unwrap. I think that we enjoy seeing the look on people’s faces, the surprise and joy in their features.
God’s Gift really wasn’t meant to be a surprise. While no one (save God) knew exactly when the gift would be given, those who were paying attention knew that He was coming. They knew because God promised and previewed His gift beforehand, long beforehand. He told his people that it was coming.
When God gave His Gift, He let people know. He didn’t just wait for people to find out, God sent angels to testify, to announce that His Gift had been given to all of humankind (Luke 2:10-11):
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
God wanted people to know and recognize His Gift. He said it plainly – my gift is in Bethlehem! God didn’t stop directing people to His Gift at Bethlehem either.
God continued to testify of Him throughout His earthly ministry. When He was baptized, God testified from heaven verbally, saying (Matthew 3:17):
“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
God testified of Him through His miracles. The signs and wonders that Jesus accomplished (again and again) testified to the fact that He was God’s Son, the Promised One. When John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask if He was the One, the Savior replied (Matthew 11:4-6):
“Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
When He laid down His life there were signs in nature that testified to all that something tremendous was happening. There was darkness over the land as He suffered. There was an earthquake at His death.
When God’s plan of Salvation was complete and the Son rose from the Dead on the 3rd Day…God again sent His Angels to announce the event to sin cursed human beings (Matthew 28:5-6):
“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
God was still testifying about His Gift, His Son – 30 years later. I wonder if we will we even remember what we gave one another a year from now?
Then even 60 years after Bethlehem these words were given to the Apostle John…and they are all about God’s Gift!
We may not be as excited about our gifts as when we first opened them, but God still wants us to know about His Gift. Moreover, He wants us to understand what He has given to us.
11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
When we give gifts we don’t usually have to explain their benefit. “Hey, these are socks, and what you do is slip them on your feet before your shoes.” God testifies to us about His Gift because it’s more than it appears. On Christmas Day we were told (Isaiah 9:6):
6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Yet…God hasn’t only given us a baby boy…but also all the benefits that He brings. We obtain forgiveness of sins and peace with God through Him. It is because sins are forgiven and peace with God is established by faith in Christ that the Apostle John can say that we who have earned eternal death in Hell…have been given Eternal Life.
God has given us Eternal Life…and that Life is to be found in His Son. We cannot purchase or win Eternal Life. We cannot earn Eternal Life. We obtain it through the new birth, the gift of faith. In fact, most of us received this gift before we ever had knowledge or understanding of Christ. For we first received God’s gift when we were baptized; there God both offered His Gift and granted the faith to receive it.
We were there (at Baptism) united to Christ and made heirs of Life Eternal. There is no other way to obtain it – except through Christ. So it also says:
12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Eternal Life can’t be found just anywhere. There is no other Savior, no other saving religion, no other way to Life Eternal. If you don’t have the Son…you don’t have Eternal Life. If you lose the Son, you lose Life. Most gifts can be replaced…but not this one.
Fear not…this gift can’t be taken away from you. There is no earthly power able to take God’s Gift from us. We can’t be torn from the hand of the Father. Jesus promises us (John 10:27-29):
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
While it can’t be forcibly taken from us…we can forsake it.
There is the potential in all of us to forsake Christ…for we all have a corrupt sinful nature. In fact, we may see warning signs in our lives from time to time.
Do you find yourself leaning away from regular worship…excusing yourself for this reason or that?
Do you have spiritual questions but figure that it’s not really that important to look for the answers now…because you always have tomorrow?
Is it easier to find reasons why you can’t have daily devotions or attend Bible Class…than looking for reasons why you should?
Is there an ebb and flow to your spiritual life? There is to mine.
We should be concerned when we see in our lives a spirit of indifference. May God grant us His Holy Spirit that we repent of our sins, trusting that God has forgiven us for Jesus’ sake! God’s gift is the one effective answer to spiritual indifference.
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
Don’t be afraid of losing Christ…because He doesn’t want to lose you. He has all power and controls history for the sake of His People. He has given us His Word – which reveals that Eternal Life is already ours. He urges us in His Word to come to Him and stay near Him. He sends pastors to proclaim His Word. He uses fellow Christians to admonish and encourage us. He wants us to keep this gift…and to give it to others. This is one gift meant to be re-gifted (and we don’t lose it by giving it away!).
These things are written that we cherish and nourish our connection to Christ. This is written so that we take care not to allow our faith to be undermined by the things we watch on television or the people we associate with.
God has given us many gifts…and will continue to bless us. God may choose to take some of His gifts away in the coming year. God will also work through His Spirit and Word that we not lose the Gift of Eternal Life in His Son.
This is the one gift can’t afford to lose…Amen.