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The Christian’s boast is in Christ

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption — that, as it is written,

“He who boasts, let him boast in the LORD.”

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

 

Christians are a peculiar people. They live in the flesh.  They live in the world.  But they are not of the world.  They live by faith in Jesus Christ (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17, etc.).  Jesus is their confidence.  He alone is their boast and their glory.

Whether having little or much, we learn, by God’s grace, that it matters not whether we have abundance or lack (Philippians 4:13).  Having Christ, we have everything we need, for what is more needful than God’s judgment and condemnation for our sin subsiding?  What greater need does the sinner have before God but to have that sin atoned for, taken away, and not counted against the sinner?

Nothing compares to what we have in Christ Jesus.  Nothing!  Nothing in the world at all approaches the grace of God.  And yet, we take it for granted.  We neglect the forgiveness of our sins and consider it an insignificant thing to replace Christ with our own interests, activities, and life.  We neglect the hearing of God’s Word.  We complain and grumble that things are not the way that we think things should be.  We seek our own way out of trouble rather than waiting on the Lord (Psalm 27:14).  In effect, we boast and glory in our own accomplishments, trying to make them our own, and consider God to be our servant, imploring Him to do our bidding instead of we being His servants and seeking to do His bidding according to His Word.  We fret and get all worked up because God does not do things our way and thus, we lose sight of God’s ways for our own and in the process, call our ways good and God’s ways evil.

Through Isaiah the prophet, God speaks of this when He declares, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21)

Instead of putting yourselves before God and His ways, like Peter who wanted nothing of a suffering Christ and who was rightly rebuked (Matthew 16:21-23), be mindful of the things of God, not the things of men (see also Colossians 3:1-4ff).  Consider who you are in the light of God’s Holy Law—a sinner, a sinner in need of God’s salvation in Christ; a sinner for whom Christ died, willingly, that you might live.

Consider now your place as God’s blessed child, having been baptized into the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Consider that you are no longer your own, but God’s child, purchased with the price of Christ’s blood (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

Now that you know that God is “for you” in Christ, and that nothing can separate you from God’s love in Christ (Romans 8), so now live.  Live in confidence!  Should even Satan stand against you, he cannot prevail, for Christ is victor!  Since such is the case, what need you fear the things of this life?  “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

You have no reason not to boast and glory in Christ, for God forgives your sins, you have eternal life promised you, and you belong to your Heavenly Father.  God is your God!  Salvation is yours!

Luther

“Now Christians know their boast in Christ, not that we are rich and worth a fortune, nor that we win a kingdom and principality, but that through Christ we become loosed from sins, from death and the devil and are established in hope.  So to this extent, we are brought into the eternal kingdom and we boast that we have a gracious God and Father because we are baptized and believe in the man who can give us eternal life, of whom no Turk, no divisive spirit, no bishop or the pope, no prince, no teacher or false saint and in summary, the whole world, knows nothing.” (Geo. Link, Luther’s Family Devotions, 644)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, forgive us for our pride before you, lamenting that we do not have what we think we ought and for seeking what you do not promise.  Help us to recognize and believe that You only are our everything, and that having You, we need no more, for You will provide and care for us of Your bountiful mercies.  Amen.

The Church’s Confidence

17 But “he who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”  18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.

2 Corinthians 10:17-18

These words of our Lord through St. Paul the Apostle are a stark contrast to the ways of the world.  St. Paul writes similar things in his first letter to the Christians in Corinth.  Likely referencing Jeremiah 9,[1] he writes the same thing, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:31).

That word “glories” could be translated with the similar word “boasts,” and it is, in various places in the New Testament.  Sometimes the Greek word is translated with the verb “glory” and sometimes not.[2]  It would be worth looking into see if a consistency exists.

If we translate the verse above with “boasts,” the contrast between the way of the God and the way of the world perhaps becomes more clear.

The way of the world is to draw attention to one’s successes, strengths, abilities.  Yet the way of the Lord is to draw one’s attention to the paradox, the reality behind what is seen.

For example, Paul in 1 Corinthians bears this out, where he writes of God’s work in that which is contrary to human reason,:

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are…(1 Corinthians 1:18-28).

God works differently than the world does.  Where the world praises success, God chastises.  Where man exalts himself, God humbles (Luke 14:11).

These things the Christian might recognize more outside the church than inside it.  Yet human pride, arrogance, and boastfulness stand ready and waiting at the door to make entrance, if not already having an abode.

A phrase that I have seen on a sign for a baptist church reads, “Maximizing, magnifying, multiplying.”  But one might wonder who the actor is!  If it’s God, then why advance what God already knows, as if He needs our recognition.  To remind ourselves that it is God doing these things?  I think not.

On the other hand, and more likely, such phraseology would seem to try to indicate that a church with such a sign is doing these things.  However, if this is the case, an honest question is simply, “Why?”  What is the purpose of such a phrase except to try to give an appearance of activity in the eyes of the world?  And to what end, to say that “the church is doing something?”  Why need it if it actually is?

Should the church ever need to defend her activity before the world, or before one another if she is being faithful to the Lord and preaching the truth?  Should the church ever need to tout its activities to demonstrate its “doingness when it’s not the world’s approval that counts, but God’s?”   Does the church now thrive on (or need) the praise of men?

Should the church seek to please men and the world, she ceases to be a servant of Christ.  Should the Christian pride his or her own activity, humbling is sure to come.

The church finds her confidence in her Lord and Head—not in what she is doing, how many people she reaches, or how many lives are changed as a result of her activity.  She rests her joy in her Lord who bought her, who purchased her with His own blood (Acts 20:28).  What she is to be doing is only what her Lord has given her to do (i.e. Matthew 28).  As she does this, she can only say, “I have only done what was commanded of me” (Luke 17:10).

Should the church find herself doing other than what the Lord has given her to do, and boasting in her own activities and not God’s, then she ceases to be the Lord’s church.  Thus will the bride of Christ and the body of Christ seek to please Him, boast in His grace, and in genuine humility, draw all attention to Christ seek commendation, not from the world, but from God.

It’s not he who commends himself who is approved, but whom the Lord commends.


[1] Jeremiah 9:23-24: 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.

[2] At least in the New King James Version.

“The Transfiguration Of Our Lord”

On the mount of transfiguration, to a select three, Jesus manifested Himself in all His glory. Before their eyes, Peter, James, and John, the brother of James, saw Jesus for who He really was. Flesh and blood no longer concealed Christ’s divinity, the truth that Jesus was not only man, but also God. Though Christ’s humanity concealed His divine nature both before and after that mountain top experience until His glorious resurrection, the disciples saw a glimpse of what was under the veil.

To those three, Jesus revealed Himself as the Son of the living God in a real, tangible way. There was no escaping this truth. They saw with their eyes and heard with their own ears the glory and honor of God and Christ.

We do too. God reveals Himself through His Holy Word and through His visible means called Sacraments. By these do we see the God of heaven and earth working among us, planting the seed of faith within our hearts, calling us to believe the Gospel, and strengthening the faith which God Himself has given…

Mt17.1-9, Transfiguration of our Lord, 2.pdf

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