First Sunday in Advent


1 Corinthians 1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,2 To the Church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be His holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ — their Lord and ours:
3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I always thank my God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in Him you have been enriched in every way — with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge — 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, Who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Our text says, “For in Him you have been enriched in every way — Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift.” If this were all St Paul had to say about our being equipped to be fully trained Christians then we are by virtue of our baptism qualified to be pastors and parochial teachers and even seminary professors!  Well, obviously that is not all he had to say in this matter, nor is that what he meant.

In this same book we read: “Now you are the Body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?” This tells us that we are not all on the same level.

Then there is this: “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” If we have it all, then we don’t need to study!
So then what does it meant- “to be enriched in every way… not lacking any spiritual gift”?

First of all — this is not written to individual Christians, but to Christians as a congregation. In the verses preceding our text, St Paul makes it clear that he is writing to: “To the Church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be His holy people, together with all those everywhere…” Within that fold there were: teachers, miracles workers, healers, those having the gift of speaking in tongues and those who could interpret. However, individually it means we have what it takes to be a Christian able to share the rudiments of our faith and, for the most part, to recognize false doctrine.

Think of it. Some of us came here because we recognize what had been taught in our previous denominations were not really biblical. The idea of total abstinence: we read from the Bible where Jesus turned water into wine — at a party of all places! We read where the Old Testament said that God gave wine to gladden the heart of man. All we heard basically was that the Bible was wrong. And so we went looking for some place where this was not taught.

Some of us read where the practice of homosexuality was a sin and yet we were told that it wasn’t really, and furthermore pastors who are to be an example to the flock could also practice homosexuality. So we went looking.

Some of us were taught that once you are saved you cannot lose your salvation. Yet we saw example after example of former Christians who had fallen away. We were told that they were never really Christians in the first place — as if they had read what was in their hearts at that moment they “thought” they became Christians. So we went looking.

Some of us were taught that once you become a Christian you do not sin anymore, but we saw things completely different — in ourselves and others — so we went looking.
Some of us were taught that it really doesn’t matter what the Bible says; it matters how the Church interprets that. Things like pastors not being able to marry, yet are called upon to counsel people having trouble with their marriage. We need to pray to saints because Jesus is either too busy or too important for our direct contact — and so we went looking.

And many other things which really even a basic understanding of the Bible could not support.

And so we found this church. Now is this the perfect church. No! This church is made up of people who are people! And we have made changes over the years — most of which were good, some of them — well — were changes for the sake of changes — and some of them — well, kind of kept up with the times.

In our beloved LCMS it was once taught that men sat on one side of the church and women and children on the other side. Communion was only offered four times a year, although Luther taught that it was to be offered daily as it had been and is practiced today in the Catholic Church. In my early ministry Communion was offered once a month, and gradually two times and like here, every Sunday. This was not doctrinally evolved but simply gradually and certainly not in all of our 6,000 congregations.

Though we are not perfect — in my estimation I know of none better or one I want to join. I am reminded of the words of the apostles when in John 6 many of the disciples turned away from Jesus and Jesus asked the Twelve: “Will you also leave Me?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” So I stay with the LCMS.

Is this congregation perfectly led by perfect people having perfect members doing everything perfectly? No — but of all the other churches in our area, there is none I would trade for this one nor for you members! On a Sunday morning, there is no other place I would rather be!

But recognizing that we are not perfect, we may want to do something about that. St Paul said this about his walk with Christ, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.”

So! How is your “presser” doing?  How are you trying to be a better Christian? Are you stagnant? Maybe even not as zealous as you once were?  Jesus spoke about the narrow way and our striving to find it? As you have heard before the word “strive” in the Greek means it is a difficult thing. As I have said before, Christianity is not a choice between good and evil, but rather a choice between our first fruits and our left overs. Are some of your left overs a little moldy?

Our text ends with “He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, Who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” God is doing His part. Jesus said, ‘Once you are in My Father’s hand, no one can pluck you out.”

St Paul wrote to the Romans, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God.” Let us then look for that leading and then strive to follow. To turn the other cheek, to walk that extra mile, to bless those who would curse us, to pray without ceasing, and when called upon to serve, to say with the prophet, “Here am I Lord, send me, send me.” Amen.

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