Friday of the Second Week of Advent
December 10, 2010
Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 26:20-27:13; 1 John 4:1-21
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of
God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you
know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come
in the flesh is of God, (1 John 4:1-2)
In the Name of Jesus. Amen. Don't trust what is preached. Test it. That's
what St. John says. Just because someone claims to be a Christian or even a
Christian preacher, don't believe it, just because they say it. Test them to see
whether they are preaching Christ faithfully. How do we do that? How do we
recognize that what our pastors preach is right? How do we tell the difference
between true preaching and false preaching? St. John gives us the answer:
Everyone who confesses that Jesus has come in the flesh is of God.
Advent reminds us that God comes to us―that Jesus comes to us, in the
flesh. As a man. Born of a woman. Born into this world to be like us without sin.
True God and true man. God-with-us. God-in-the-flesh. Many religions deny
that Jesus is God in the flesh. Many others deny that Jesus really came as a
man. Either way, they're wrong. Jesus came in the flesh so that He could suffer
and die for your sins. Any preacher who denies that Jesus did this is a false
preacher. Any preacher who makes little or nothing of the fact that God became
a man to take away your sins should not be trusted, but avoided.
But there's more coming in the flesh that Jesus does. He tells us to take eat
and take drink His body and His blood. He tells us to feast upon His flesh so
that we will have eternal life. To confess that Jesus comes in the flesh also
means to confess and believe that He comes to us in His Supper in His flesh
and blood. That is, He still comes to us in the flesh to save us and forgive us in
His holy Sacrament. Beware of any preacher or teacher who denies this, too!
Jesus comes in the flesh for our salvation and comfort. He comes as a man
to die for our sins and rise again. He gives you His flesh to eat so you can be
certain that your sins are forgiven. That is the preaching of the true Holy Spirit,
the one who delivers this flesh-having God to you for forgiveness and life. In the
Name of Jesus. Amen.
O Lord, we praise Thee, bless Thee and adore Thee, In thanksgiving bow
before Thee. Thou with Thy body and Thy blood didst nourish Our weak souls
that they may flourish: O Lord, have mercy! May Thy body, Lord, born of Mary,
That our sins and sorrows did carry, And Thy blood for us plead In all trial, fear
and need: O Lord, have mercy! (LSB 617:1)
I would like to expand on the sentiment put forth by the writer of this devotional, Rev. Mark Beutow, when he states:
Jesus came in the flesh so that He could suffer and die for your sins. Any preacher who denies that Jesus did this is a false preacher. Any preacher who makes little or nothing of the fact that God became a man to take away your sins should not be trusted, but avoided.On the surface, this appears that we should be waiting for a preacher to say outright Jesus didn't do what the Bible said He did; that being He died on the cross for our sins. And then avoid that kind of preaching. We should. Absolutely. However, many pastors will not be so straightforward about it. Instead, you will probably hear a sermon about how you can have your best life now, how you should be more disciplined to follow Christ more closely, how you should be reading the Bible more, how if you just practice the presence of God a bit more, you should put God first in all parts of your life, etc.
As I am typing this blog, I just read a status update by Pastor Rick Warren: "
All these things: reading more, following more closely, doing this and that just a little bit more; these things don't bring forgiveness. These things are what you ought to do to make God more pleased with you. Their focus is what you can do. We are dead in sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2). We are dead. Our only hope is that God came in flesh in Jesus Christ. He lived as a man and died as a man for our sins. That is the blessed hope Advent brings. God came in the flesh and died for our sins.
My plea is that you will test the preaching you hear from your pastor. If he is preaching that we are all dead in sins and trespasses, but Jesus came in the flesh and died for your sins; then be very thankful. If your pastor is not, avoid that teaching at all costs. Find a church where you will hear the Law and Gospel preached correctly.