Dying To Live! Romans 6:1-11
July 11, 2021
Rev. Nathan J. Rusert
"Therefore every Christian has enough in Baptism to learn and to practice all his life; for he has always enough to do to believe firmly what it promises and brings: victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, the grace of God, the entire Christ, and the Holy Ghost with His gifts." (Dr. Martin Luther, Large Catechism) The gifts Christ's seals upon us by God the Holy Spirit unite us with Him. His baptismal gift brings us from death to life as beloved children of our Heavenly Father. Sermon Text: Romans 6:1-11. Sermon Theme: "Dying To Live!" Preached for the Sixth Sunday After Trinity, 11-July-2021, at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Tell City, Indiana by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert.
The Sixth Sunday After Trinity 11-July-2021
Sermon Text: Romans 6:1-11
Sermon Theme: Dying To Live! by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert.
I.N.R.I. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” As children we’d shout these words back at others mocking us. They aren’t true. Today the Lord God preaches from the mountain, Exo 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” Misusing God’s Name to curse brings a curse upon us. Again He thunders forth, “Exo 20:16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Misusing our neighbor’s name in malicious gossip brings us into judgment. The Lord God preaches from the mountain, “Mat 5:22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Ever spoke the words, “you fool!” “idiot!” “numbskull” - there is hell to pay. The Law rightly judges you a murderer. God the Holy Spirit further teaches, “1Jn 3:15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
The father of lies, the devil, a murderer and liar from the beginning lied that words can never hurt us. If we are honest before God’s Word which is absolute Truth for all times and peoples - we are murderers - with no hope of eternal life in ourselves - justly sentenced to eternal fire in hell. Where will you turn for rescue? Appeal to the good life you’ve lived, the times you’ve come to church, the offerings you’ve given, the Scripture verses you’ve memorized, your strict keeping of God’s Ten Commandments? Not enough! The Lord God preaches, Mat 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Scribes and Pharisees had memorized the entire book of Psalms, and the five books of Moses by their twelfth
birthday. They strictly kept the Ten Commandments by keeping 613 more they made up to ensure they didn’t break any of God’s Ten. They gave a tenth of their income to the Temple and in support of the poor. They were good people. Good people can’t earn their way out of hell fire for the words they’ve spoken. We need a righteousness that exceeds their great moral charitable lives.
A moral noble Pharisee came to Jesus one night. He was a member of the ruling seventy - the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem. He even acknowledged that Jesus was a Teacher sent from God. This wasn’t enough for him to even “see the Kingdom of God.” What did this good man need? He needed a “birth from above.” A gift of God’s mercy - never of our decision or strength. Joh 3:5-6 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Nicodemus needed to die in baptismal water that he might live in Christ Jesus.
Christians are not good people - they are baptized children of the Heavenly Father. Birthed from above by God the Spirit of Truth by water and Christ’s Word. We are: “Dying To Live!”
“Cheap Grace!” In the midst of a culture collapsing for the lie of national socialism, cancelling the voices that disagreed with those in power, and forcing people to carry papers showing government approval to travel and attend events - a Lutheran theologian warned against - “cheap grace.” Listen to what he wrote: “Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjack’s wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! … Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the Cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.....Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods…Costly grace is the Gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it costs God the life of His Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon His Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered Him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer - “The Cost of Discipleship”
Have we cheapened grace? Marketplace Christianity tries to give the customers what they want at bargain basement prices to pack in the crowds. It cheapens grace by not calling sinners to repentance. (Vs. 1-3)
Cheap grace turns the doctrine of remission of sins into a teaching of the permission to sin. So people rejoice in their sin, take pride in it, boast about their sin as their “right”, and shout down any who would waken their conscience to repentance.
It is cheap grace to look at baptism as a “get out of hell free card.” We cheapen God’s gift of Holy Baptism -when we think it is enough to have our children baptized, but never again darken the door of God’s House until confirmation instruction years. We rob our children of the comfort and calling of their baptism by not teaching them in our homes all things Christ Jesus has commanded - His Holy Ten Commandments, The Lord’s Prayer, The Apostles’ Creed.
Baptism kills us. We are baptized into Christ’s death! In baptism the Holy Spirit knits you into Jesus’ own crucified flesh so intimately that His death is your death. (Vs.4) His tomb is your tomb. His resurrection and victory over death, Satan, and hell - are your victory. In baptism you died with Christ Jesus and in baptism you rose with Him to a new life. A life as God the Father’s beloved child. You are united with Christ’s resurrection victory - it is sealed upon you with water and the living name of the only true God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
What does this mean? (Vs.5) Baptism guarantees death’s defeat! That is why these words form the funeral liturgy and are spoken as a white pall of Christ’s life covers the casket of our baptized sisters and brothers in Christ. Death is robbed of its sting. It could not hold Jesus’ flesh and blood - it will not hold ours - but must serve us only as a short nap - a refreshing rest - from which Christ Jesus will awaken us on the Last Day with His Word - “Arise.” We will arise in these bodies fully clothed in Jesus’ righteousness, innocence, and blessedness - immortal, incorruptible, powerful, and glorious.
Even now though our outward man is perishing, inwardly the new man is strengthened in their baptism day by day. (Vs.6) Baptism arms us to battle our old sinful self and his self-centered works. What are these? Gal 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, (20) idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, (21) envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Baptism unites our voice with Jesus, ‘Father, Thy will be done!” “Break and hinder my old sinful self-centered will and awaken me to drown the old adam in my daily in my baptism. To crucify him, that I might live as your baptized child.” Lord Jesus free me from the slavery of sin! We lie to ourselves that only drug addicts or alcoholics are enslaved - sin enslaves us all, chains, imprisons, and isolates us in self centeredness.
Repent and return to Christ’s sacrifice and victory sealed to you in your baptism. (Vs.7) When your pet sin comes purring - fight against it - for one moment it purrs then the next moment the devil roars like a lion that you have sinned and can never again be called God’s child. Tell sin and Satan - “I am baptized into Christ!” He is my Strength! He is the saving of His anointed - baptized.
Baptized we daily die and daily rise to new life. (Vs.8-9) Rising from slumber we make the sign of the cross and repeat the life giving Word God birthed us from above at the font. Dying we Christ we live with Him. Death lost its claim on you at the font - this was God’s gift to you - never earned - believe His Word. Confess the Creed and listen! Pray the Lord’s Prayer and know that He has and will deliver you from all evil! Go about your work joyfully serving the Lord by serving your neighbor with your various talents and callings.
Baptism makes you immortal in Christ Jesus! Why cower in fear? Why fear the world with all its threats? It is all an empty lie - its power is in vain -for it has been all undone by water and the Creator’s Word adopting you as His beloved children. (Vs.10-11) Death is broken. As Christians we grieve with hope. Jesus lives! Our baptized brothers and sisters who have fallen asleep in Jesus - live with Him. They unite their voices with ours at the Lord’s Table. Here we have a foretaste of the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb of God which we will see with our eyes and taste with our lips just as certainly as we taste the Lord’s Supper here and now!
Baptized we depart in peace. Jesus died once for all - our words that earn us death were bore by Him on the cross. He spoke words pleading the Father to forgive us, opening paradise to sinners who look only to His crucified flesh, caring for us through the hands of fellow disciples, and assuring us that all is paid for, finished, our debt forever cancelled by His sacrifice - then laying down His life to venture into our grave - He breeched Satan’s stronghold of hell and tore the bars off of death and robbed the grave of its prey.“Sticks and stones may break my bones, my words have condemned me to hell.” “Sticks and stones may break my bones, Christ’s baptismal Word “works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation.” God the Holy Spirit gives me a new life of faith to cling to the Words and promises of my God and Lord, Mar 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Amen.
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