Title: Guilt, punishment and freedom in Christ!
Text: Hebrews 10:11-18
11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
A man entered a bar, bought a glass of beer and then immediately threw it into the bartender's face. Quickly grabbing a napkin, he helped the bartender dry his face while he apologized with great remorse. "I'm so sorry," he said. "I have this compulsion to do this. I fight it, but I don't know what to do about it." "You had better do something about your problem," the bartender replied. "You can be sure I'll remember you and will never serve you another drink until you get help."
It was months before the man faced the bartender again. When he asked for a beer, the bartender refused. Then the man explained that he had been seeing a psychiatrist and that his problem was solved. Convinced it was now okay to serve him, the bartender poured him a drink. The man took the glass and splashed the beer into the barkeeper's astonished face. "I thought you were cured," the shocked bartender screamed. "I am," said the man. "I still do it, but I just don't feel guilty about it anymore."
Charles Sell, Unfinished Business, Multnomah, 1989, p. 223.
Guilt and punishment; two parts of forgiveness, one – the guilt - you take care of by confessing your sins to a priest, the other – punishment - had to be paid in this life or in the life eternal.
By Luther’s day purgatory was a pretty established fact. Since 1274 AD and the Council of Leone payment of sins had become a fact of life.
Today also we see some pretty established facts being challenged.
• Marriage, ordained by God between and man and a woman. Now challenged by those who see marriage as only love between two or possibly more people.
• Life, a gift of God created and begun at the time of conception. Now seen as a medical health issue with abortion as an acceptable means and solution for an unwanted pregnancy.
• Noah’s Ark – God’s judgment of the world as opposed to a nice story of a boat and animals two by two going aboard.
11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
The idea of sins needing to be paid for and it – in our guilt - being our work was one the people knew and worried about.
“How can I be right with God?”
“How can I stand in the presence of a Holy God?
Purgatory made sense to believers. Sins need to be paid for and it may be a while before all my sins were purged away. My guild was forgiven but the punishment I needed to pay.
6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);
When Jesus said, It is finished” in John 19:30 He wasn’t talking about his life. He was using a term in the Greek that means “Paid in full.” The debt for all our sins has been paid!
The church needed money for fighting wars and territory protection and the selling of indulgences was a means to raise money and make payment of sins possible – not by a repentant heart but by the form of monetary payment.
As a former salesman; I’ve heard and seen the promises that some salesman make.
“Yes! If you buy it right now I promise to have it at your house tomorrow.” Only to find that it can’t be prepped and delivered in a day so … excuses are made or left to the warehouse and drivers to look like the bad guy. In other words – “Tell them what they want to hear and do whatever you want.”
I even heard those exact words from a pastor when I was asking what to expect when I went for my Theological Interview at the seminary. Not what have you learned of true doctrine but, “I told them want they wanted to hear.” Meaning I do something different than want our church believes, teaches and confesses. Sad but true.
You can see the church and its teaching leading the sheep to a different sheepfold … not one where Christ is the good shepherd but one where we shepherd ourselves and guide ourselves.
But what does God again say in our epistle?
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Guilt and punishment are both laid on Christ. No distinction. Not Christ’s work, and my work together saving me. It is finished … all in Christ. You are forgiven. Go and sin no more. Grace alone, Faith alone, Christ alone, Scripture alone.
But Luther is not there … yet.
The posting of the 95 theses were intended to have a discussion. A theological discussion, if you will, in hope of a change of heart, like repentance … a turning from error … and a turning back to Christ.
As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Walking on the water of our own self righteousness we will eventually sink in the sins of our own self worth. How great the words of Christ sound in our Gospel for today.
30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
It is finished!
In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!