Gifted With The Life Of Christ! 2 Peter 1:2-11

February 17, 2021
Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

"Remember, dust you are and to dust you shall return!" startling, but true words that ring in our ears on Ash Wednesday. In Baptism we are gifted by the Triune God with the Divine Nature - the Life of Christ. Sermon Text: 2 Peter 1:2-11. Sermon Theme: "Gifted With the Life of Christ!" Preached for Ash Wednesday, 17-February-2021, at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Tell City, Indiana by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert.

Episode Notes

Ash Wednesday                                             17-February-2021
Sermon Text: 2 Peter 1:2-11
Sermon Theme: “Gifted With the Life of Christ!” by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

I.N.R.I. John 21:18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish." Our risen Lord speaks these words after restoring His denying disciple Peter to the apostolic preaching office. In case you don’t understand what Jesus is speaking of, the Holy Spirit through St. John adds, “John 21:19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me." As Peter writes his second epistle he knows that his time to follow Jesus through suffering, death, and the grave will be very soon. 2 Peter 1:13-15 Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, (14) knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. (15) Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. Peter soon will glorify God by his death.
      “Follow Me!” our Lord Jesus speaks to you daily in the sin removing, death destroying, Satan conquering, eternal life giving Word and Water of your baptism. Are you ready for your decease? The prophet Isaiah was sent to preach to King Hezekiah on his sick bed, “2 Kings 20:1 ....... "Thus says the LORD: 'Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.' " How would you like your pastor to preach this to you the next time you are hospitalized?
          “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” is what strong and weak, healthy and ill, newborn and elderly - will hear tonight from the mouth of their Pastor. It isn’t his opinion, but the Lord’s Word that he has been called, ordained, and sent to speak into your ears. It is the same word spoken to Peter and King Hezekiah - “you will go where you do not wish”...”set your house in order, for you will die.” For those who choose to come forward tonight to have ashes imposed upon your forehead - these words will be marked with a ashen cross. Even if you remain seated these words of our Lord still ring true for you...”dust you are and to dust you shall return.”
          St. Peter’s last will and testament is the word of life. He writes this epistle because false teachers had arisen in his churches. Satan continually whispers spiritual sounding lies asking, “Has God indeed said...” Our fallen flesh loves to hear his lies. Lies that we can find God on our own terms, in our own ways, following our own wisdom. Lies that we are in control of life. Lies to deceive our self that we have no sin and that we will not die. The world promises us - “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life” (1 Jn 2:16) or as another translation puts it - “1 John 2:16-17 GW Not everything that the world offers-physical gratification, greed, and extravagant lifestyles-comes from the Father. It comes from the world, and (17) the world and its evil desires are passing away. But the person who does what God wants lives forever.” Learn from St. Peter to look only to the Word of the Lord with your ears - for in your baptism you continually are: “Gifted With the Life of Christ!”
        What do you cling to facing death? Ash Wednesday fell on February 26th last year. We had heard some rumblings about the China Virus, but we didn’t really pay much attention - how deadly could a virus be? By the end of March our entire state was under a two week quarantine to flatten the curve. What did you cling to? Where did you turn for peace, hope, and safety facing death? Dr. Luther rightly taught - “whatever you set your heart on and put your trust in is truly your god.” What did you trust in - what have you set your heart on these past 12 months? Listen closely - not what did your neighbor - but what do YOU trust in - from what do you “expect all good and” in what have YOU taken “refuge in all distress?” This is a question that the Lord asks YOU tonight!
        If you have clung to scientism, trusted in man’s wisdom, power, might, political clout, silver, gold, your plans, your provisions, your masks, and your innoculations - repent! If you live in fear, distrust, and uneasiness - repent! Believe the Gospel! “Lord open my ears that I may hear!” (2 Peter 1:2). Christ’s Word fills us with grace and peace. Not with legalism, accusation, and warring with one another. This peace flows from the Truth - the ‘knowledge” of God your true Father and of Jesus “our Lord.” The knowledge of God flows from God to us through the Gospel. We can’t believe it, but the Holy Spirit through these Words rebirths us to life - opens our eyes to see God the Father’s love for us sinners in the flesh and blood of Jesus sacrificed for our sins upon the cross. (2 Peter 1:3) Our Father lavishes His love upon us in Christ Jesus through God the Holy Spirit - “ALL THINGS’ pertaining to life and godliness are yours in this Gospel Word. Gospel Words of life poured over your infant head in Holy Baptism. ALL THINGS - forgiveness of all your sins - poured, spoken, preached, and fed you at the Lord’s table. (2 Peter 1:4) His precious promise is that we are His beloved children in Christ Jesus. We are swaddled in Jesus’ perfect holy life in the waters of our baptism. We are cleansed with Jesus’ life blood in words of absolution. We are blessed hearing the voice of our Savior and our God in His Word preached through the poor stammering lips of our sinful pastor. We feast on Christ’s very living flesh and blood in bread and wine. We partake of the Divine Nature - as Jesus promised on the night when He was betrayed, “John 14:23-27 , "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (24) He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me. (25) "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. (26) But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (27) Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
    Repent - turn away from the corrupt world. Drown your old sinful Adam with all his sinful evil lustful desires by daily contrition and repentance. Rise to new life in Christ Jesus by the power of God the Holy Spirit in God’s Word! Grow! Let the Life of Christ Jesus flow through you by faith! (2 Peter 1:5-7) Those who plan to run a marathon give all diligence to training at least six months ahead of time. They don’t wait until the day before - Christian run the race of faith. Let your faith in Christ live through you in virtue. What is virtue? It is found in God’s Knowledge - learn, relearn, repeat, pray, live the ABC’s of the Christian Faith - The Holy Ten Commandments, The Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer. These are not empty words or knowledge, but the very life giving Word of God.   The Ten Commandments will kill you - exposing your old sinful adam justly damning you. Then God the Holy Spirit will breath you forth to life again in the words and confession of the Faith given you in Holy Baptism. God the Father’s love sustains your body and life. God the Son’s love clothes you with His righteousness, innocence, blessedness freeing you to live under Him in His Kingdom. God the Holy Spirit continues to bring you back to trust in Jesus through the Gospel as daily and richly He applies the fruit of the cross - the forgiveness of sins to you within Christ’s Church. Born from above you cry out, “Our Father.” Jesus’ Word, breathed through your lips by God the Holy Spirit, asking your Heavenly Father for all you need to support soul and body.
      God the Holy Spirit teaches us through this knowledge - self-control. Denying self we take up our cross and follow Jesus. Our faith is preserved under the cross - we persevere respecting and reverencing the things of God - His Church, His Sacraments, His Word. From this we grow up to treat each other with brotherly kindness - explaining our fellow Christian’s actions in the kindest way possible - not biting and devouring them - but seeing them as beloved brothers and sisters struggling with sin like we are - for whom Christ has died and risen again! Our faith grows pouring itself out in love! Agape - the full love of comprehension and commitment that joyfully sacrifices itself for the sake of making the other better. This is Christ living in us through our hands and hearts to care for our neighbor.
      Jesus is the Vine, we the branches - apart from Him we can do nothing. (2 Peter 1:8-9) Faith isn’t an intellectual knowing about the history of Jesus - it is knowing Him by caring for one another. Let the Gospel live through you by the power of the Holy Spirit - do not become myopic and blind looking at your own good works - fix your eyes only on Jesus Christ crucified for your sins and raised again declaring you a beloved child of God the Father. Remember who you are - a baptized child of God - cleansed from your sins!            
      Our lenten journey to follow Jesus into His death for us on Good Friday began on the day of your baptism! (2 Peter 1:10-11) Repent and lay hold of the treasure sealed upon you at the font. There the Lord God called you by name to be His own! There He assured you that He elected to save you from eternity in Christ Jesus your Savior. There He gave and continues to give you the Holy Spirit through the Gospel that you may remain steadfast in His Word and Faith until you die! There is only one entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life - No one comes to the Father except through His Flesh and blood.
        ““Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” you will hear in a few minutes. You have nothing to give and offer to God - you are sinful dust. The Lord has graciously chosen you in Christ before the foundation of the world. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” in the early church when the ashen cross was being drawn upon the penitent’s forehead they would respond: “ A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Christ Jesus doesn’t want your good works - He wants your sins, your broken, sad, depressed, and sorrowing heart - He doesn’t despise these gifts but takes them into His own flesh to the cross - to finish it once and for all FOR YOU!
              “Follow Me!” history records that Peter was arrested by Roman Emperor Nero. Tradition holds that St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred in Rome on June 29th, 68A.D.. Paul was beheaded for he was a Roman citizen and given a quick death. Peter died the horrible death of crucifixion. Feeling unworthy to die in the same manner as his Savior, Peter asked to be crucified upside down. He “followed” Jesus through death to His eternal kingdom. “Mark 8:34-38, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (35) For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. (36) For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (37) Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (38) For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." “Christ’s you are....and to Christ you shall return”...cling to His Word alone. Amen.

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