Pentecost 2 Sermon: Absolutely Astonished
The Second Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 4C
29 May AD 2016
Title: Absolutely Astonished (MP3 Audio)
Summary: Astonishing! Someone gives you something beyond value for absolutely no cost — and you’re looking for ways to pay for it! And so, after an introduction filled with sweetness and light, Paul immediately lowers the boom on the Galatians — and on us.
Even secular wisdom tells us, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” In other words, accept your gift thankfully and use it as intended. If this is true for even second-rate human gifts, how much more should it be for a priceless gift of love from God Himself?
Yet the Galatians were starting to listen to those who were telling them that Christ alone wasn’t enough. They were being told that to be “good Christians,” they needed to become good Jews. Freed by the Gospel, the Galatians were beginning to subject themselves to the Law.
Enemies of the Gospel were using it as a gateway, making Christ’s sacrifice a step on the way to holiness rather than the source and the completion of our righteousness. The freedom from sin’s bondage that these Judaizers” proclaimed was illusory — they were only “freeing” their listeners to step into a new bondage.
While the details change to fit times and circumstances, Satan and fallen human nature remain the same. We still face those who would turn us away from the full liberation of the Gospel and direct us back to works of the Law.
Listen to Christ. When He says, “It it finished,” He means that He has completed everything necessary for salvation. Our debt is paid, we are reconciled with the Father, and we can do nothing to add to God’s infinite love. What is more astonishing than our efforts to add human works to the Gospel? God continuing to love us, forgive us, and receive us into His presence.
Text: Paul, an apostle — not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead — and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. John 8:48-59
Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Absolutely Astonished.
NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.
Other Readings: Psalm 96:1-9; 1 Kings 8:22-24, 27-29, 41-43; Luke 7:1-10