Text: Mark 1:9-15
12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
Missionary A.B. Simpson is reported to have said that the gospel or the good News
Tells rebellious men that God is reconciled,
that justice is satisfied,
that sin has been atoned for,
that the judgment of the guilty may be revoked,
the condemnation of the sinner cancelled,
the curse of the Law blotted out,
the gates of hell closed,
the portals of heaven opened wide,
the power of sin subdued,
the guilty conscience healed,
the broken heart comforted,
[and] the sorrow and misery of the Fall undone.
M. Cocoris, Evangelism, A Biblical Approach, Moody, 1984, p. 29.
Last week we began our sermon series on the six chief parts of Luther’s Small Catechism with the Ten Commandments. Here we learned what God expects and how we all miss the mark … both in who we are, and what we do.
Today we will move on to the Creed.
In the Ten Commandments we heard the Law, and today in the Apostles Creed we will hear the Gospel. For Luther the arrangement of the Catechism’s six chief parts is important.
The Ten Commandments show our brokenness and need.
The Creed reveals who God is and his work.
The Lord’s Prayer teaches us how to pray and to commune with God.
Holy Baptism shows how God works through his gifts to mark us and make us his own.
In the Office of the Keys [confession and absolution] we learn of our life in Christ as we confess our sins and hear the good of that we are forgiven in Christ.
And finally in the Lord’s Supper we receive the true body and blood of Christ and the forgiveness he won at the cross for us while we receive comfort and have our faith strengthened in this blessed gift.
The Catechisms order is important. The distinction between Law and Gospel is important too.
In Luther’s day the Creed was divided into 12 articles and for the Roman Catholic Church it still is.
In former times you heard preaching on twelve articles of the Creed. If anybody wants to divide it up, he could find even more. You, however, should divide the Creed into the main parts indicated by the fact that there are three persons: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
LW Vol.51 Pg. 162
For Luther, God is one and this was most important. It was important in his teaching on the Creed to show the oneness of God and the uniqueness and distinction of persons. So there is a trinity and a unity that he taught in the Creed revealing the Father, Son + and Holy Spirit and their work.
In the Creed we lean of this triune God and his connection to Creation, Redemption and Sanctification. So in the gospel the whole Godhead is active. In the Creed we learn who God is, what has he done, and more importantly, we learn what he has done for me.
The revelation to who God is begins in the first Article.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
We as Christians confess in the Creed I believe. Our belief is all gift revealed in the one God who has created all things - this Father Almighty Maker of Heaven and Earth.
This faith and statement is only something we can confess - because of the full work of the triune God who has reconciled us and brought us to faith in him so that we can see who he is, what he has done, worship him in spirit and truth … and call him Father.
It is certainly true that all of these good created gifts came from God and that all people benefit from them but it is not possible to know this God, thank him, or to call him Father apart from his work in revealing himself to us.
It is the fullness of God’s love and grace that he has created us in his image and that he desires to have fellowship with us as creator and creation that in spite of sin and the fall God desired to save us from and eternity separated from him.
In the second article we learn of God’s Son his work to rescue you and me requiring his full engagement on our behalf.
We also believe not only in God the Father Almighty creator of Heaven and Earth, but also in Jesus Christ his only Son [who is] our Lord.
This Jesus Christ is God’s Son and our Lord because he is God not only of our creation but of our recreation also.
Conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary this Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate was crucified died and was buried. Placed in history Jesus is human in a real sense and truly lived, died and rose from the dead. He is both God and man and did what he intended to do for the salvation of the world.
In this article we see Jesus’ work in redemption. We see the Christmas message – the incarnation of God becoming man and his life, death and suffering in our place.
In his humiliation God units himself with us in our humanity in the person and work of his son and restores the bridge between God and man that had been broken with the fall into sin.
The second article doesn’t end there though because Jesus descends into hell to proclaim victory, on the third day he rises from the dead ascends to heaven and is seated at God’s right hand – the seat of power – and will come again to judge the living and the dead. All will see him and all will be judged. Death is no escape, unbelief does not negate this reality of God in the flesh descending, dying, rising, and coming again for all.
The sheep and the goats – some to eternal glory and some to eternal damnation; so how is this reality made known and who is the active agent?
Well, in the third article we learn of the Holy Spirit called the comforter by Jesus is John chapter 14 in the King James Version.
The word used – παρακλέτοσ parakletos - is translated in some bibles as advocate, intercessor, consoler, comforter, and helper. Our ESV translates it as helper. I’m not sure that I like that as much as the KJV and that is why I believe that you need to read a few translations. The word helper could give the impression that God and we work together in our salvation - that God does his part and that we do our part rather than God being the active agent and we who are the ones that receive the gift.
In the third we see God at work by the Holy Spirit, through the Christian Church or as the Creed would say the – catholic Church (small c –catholic meaning universal church), the communion of saints the body of believers who will have forgiveness of sins, resurrection of the body – real flesh and blood like our resurrected Lord and a life everlasting and eternal with him.
This is the good news the Gospel of our salvation made known to us by the Holy Spirit … God’s work, Father, Son+ and Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins for you and for me and for all whom the Lord our God will call to belief, life and salvation in him.
God shows his requirements in the Ten Commandments
God reveals his restoration in the Creed
In Luther’s own explanation of the Third Article he writes:
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.
Our own reason and strength would lead us astray. Our own understanding would cause us to make idols of ourselves, our lives, and our loves. In God’s work and in him alone do we know the work of a loving God that has created us, redeemed us in Jesus Christ our Lord, and restores us by his Spirit of Truth working and pointing us outside of ourselves to this reality that in Christ Jesus salvation is ours - this is most certainly true!
In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!