Lectionary Year A
March 3, 2002
Step VI - Contemporary Address
(JFC) The exposition of this text seeks to describe how peace comes to the faithful.
B. Describing the Audience
(JFC) Any parish needing assurance that God's Peace is available currently could
resonate with this sermon.
C. Contemporary Address
(JFC) A sermon, entitled for this working draft, "Peace Comes Even In These Days"
This passage appeals to our appreciation of Paul's belief that "we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." We long for such peace. When the Old Testament word for peace, shalom, is used as a mantra, serenity, comfort, tranquility and relaxation seem to result. We need more of that peace, to be sure. Paul believes we have it with God.
I. God's Love Poured Into Our Hearts
A. The Holy Spirit is the other person of the Triune God this passage mentions. Paul almost succumbs to modalism when he states that the Holy Spirit is the One through whom God channels the gift of Divine Love. Paul furthermore declares that the Holy Spirit comes from God; God gives us the Holy Spirit full of Love, which God gives us.
B. The image of pouring into our hearts speaks to ancient people in an arid climate. Exodus 17:3-7 tells of Israel's thirst needed for water to be poured out for them in the desert. God did assuage their thirst there. See also Numbers 20:2-13. One commentary (ICC) paints the word picture thusly: "that Holy Spirit . . , floods our hearts with the consciousness of the Love of God for us." See furthermore Isaiah 44:3.
II. Obtaining "access to this grace in which we stand, . . ."
A. Standing in this grace might differ from obtaining access to it. Nevertheless, Paul contends we do both. We stand in God's grace and Jesus Christ gives us passage into it. God's grace surrounds us and we get in touch with it by believing that our Savior opens the doors for us to walk in it, more than merely standing in it only. We take advantage of it via Christ's availing for us the key to the door to it. We walk in it with Jesus Christ.
B. God's grace for us was won by Christ's passion, suffering, death and resurrection. God paid the price for us to be able to rejoice in Divine and unmerited favor from on high. It is so much with us that we can share it with others. Surely you know someone who needs extra portions of God's grace. You and I have an abundance of it, enough to share with others. Think of them . . . resolve, with God's help, to contact them this week.
III. Christ's Dieing for the Ungodly.
A. There are many who are ungodly and impious. We ought to know, for we are they. We are they for whom Christ died. We needed that expression of God's love. It shows and tells us that God loves us undeservedly. That's the way God loves. Ken Foreman (LBC) distinguishes between Christ's finished work and His unfinished work. Christ has finished all He had to do for our peace and salvation. We, on the other hand, have yet to complete all we are to do for God's love and mercy in us, Christ's grace and peace in us.
B. Our attitude toward them, the ungodly and/or the impious, warrants examination. Shirley Guthrie's God also calls "us to love them, not gleefully to look forward to the time when we can enjoy seeing them 'get what they deserve' and/or say 'I told you so.' Moreover, if we know that while we ourselves were 'helpless,' 'ungodly' sinners and enemies of God, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:6-11), how can we not do what we can by our attitudes, words and actions to let those other sinners and enemies know that the same good news is for them too?"
God fills us, opens accesses to grace for us and gives us Christ to reveal most convincingly that divine love brings us peace unqualifiedly.
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