October 29-31, 2016
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: John 8:31-47
“TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES!”
1. At Jesus’ Time.
2. At Luther’s Time.
3. In our Time.
People in America have always enjoyed game shows on TV. There are some long running ones that all seem to know about like Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and the Price is Right. There have been hundreds of others. One was called “Truth or Consequences.” Do any of you remember it? The contestants were asked a question and if they got it right, truth, they would go on. If they got it wrong there were consequences, usually some gag or stunt was done that got everybody laughing. As we observe the 499th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation today it’s a good time to remind ourselves about truth or consequences in another way. However in this case, it’s not a game. And the consequences are no laughing matter.
We start in Jesus’ time. “To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”33They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can You say that we shall be set free?” 34Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill Me, because you have no room for My Word. 38I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.” When Jesus first started His public ministry he seemed to be popular. Crowds flocked to hear Him and see His miracles. Those crowd gathering miracles gave Jesus the chance to proclaim the truth. He was the God sent Messiah. All were sinners and needed Him. Many did not like to hear that message. Jesus reminded the people of the importance of the truth, God’s truth. Holding to that truth proclaimed in Jesus’ teaching is a sign of authentic discipleship. Knowing that truth sets you free from the slavery to sin. If you reject that that truth there are consequences.
“Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. 40As it is, you are determined to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41You are doing the things your own father does.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” 42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on My own; but He sent Me. 43Why is My language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me! 46Can any of you prove Me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe Me? 47He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
At Jesus’ time many simply did not want the truth. God had given them the truth in the Old Testament through Moses and the prophets. God demanded holy living. Man could not do this. Man sinned. Sin was offensive to God. Sin needed to be paid for. Man could not do this. No offering was good enough. No amount of good deeds could make up for even one sin. God would send a Savior. He would do it. Sadly over time God’s truth was replaced by lies. If you have the blood of Abraham in your veins you are good enough to God. Only blatant breaking of the commandments mattered. Not the sins of the heart. God’s truth was rejected and there were consequences. 44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. 47He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
We know that Jesus restored the truth to God’s people. After His ascension the Apostles carefully held to Jesus’ teachings. The Devil tried many times and in many ways to substitute his lies but it didn’t work. God’s people held to Jesus’ teachings because they were really His disciples. Creeds like the Apostles, the Nicene and the Athanasian were developed to clearly proclaim the truth from God’s word in short ways, memorable ways and clear ways and to point out there were consequences for rejecting the truth. Those who did not hold to the Creeds were not allowed to be part of the Christian church. While the church was constantly fighting against the Devil who kept trying to get people to buy his lies for several hundred years it didn’t work.
Things began to change. Just like what happened to the Old Testament church the teachings of man began to replace the truth of God. Instead of looking to the Bible for truth people looked to the church leaders called bishops. Headed by the bishop of Rome who called himself the pope various teachings were added as coming from God himself. Salvation was found in the church. While Jesus’ sacrifice paid for eternal punishment in order to pay of the temporal debt of sin man had to do things before he could get to heaven: venerate relics, say certain prayers and then of course by Luther’s time, buy indulgences, pieces of paper that promised forgiveness for a certain amount of the temporal debt of sin.
By God’s grace and at his working a monk named Luther started studying the Bible more and more. He found the truth that set him free. We are forgiven not by what we do but because of God’s grace, his undeserved love. We are forgiven through faith in Jesus and what He has done. Only the Scripture is the truth and authority for what God says. You can see how grace alone, faith alone and Scripture alone became this simple ways of proclaiming the truth. Luther wanted everyone to know that truth and he sought to share it but his church at the time rejected it. They threatened Luther with death if he continued proclaiming the truth. Luther did anyway. He knew that it is truth or consequences. If he didn’t get the truth out many people would live their lives in fear without knowing the comfort, peace and joy of being set free from their sins. Because he was an authentic disciple he held to the truth.
Now it’s our turn. Once again it’s truth or consequences. The truth of God’s word in America is under attack. It has been for some time with the lie of evolution proclaimed instead of the truth of Creation, with a free love instead of married love and with God’s truth about marriage of one man and one woman replaced with the Devil’s lies. And while those things certainly get us shaking our heads the worst lie was pointed out to you a couple of weeks ago by Pastor Waldschmidt Jr. All gods are equal. There are many ways to heaven. Truth is relative. What is true for you does not have to be true to me. How clever Satan is! We feel the pressure already. While there are appropriate times and places and inappropriate times and places for proclaiming God’s truth I’m sure we can all think of a time we kept our mouth shut when it should have opened. Do we let our own view of right and wrong change because the wrong is going on in our family? And so for instance when a man and woman lived together and had sex before was a sin but now when it’s my son or my daughter, my grandkids, it’s not so bad. More pressure is likely to come.
But remember my friends it’s truth or consequences for all of us. If we give up the truth then Jesus says we are children of the Devil. If we stop proclaiming truth how will people who need to know that Jesus has set them free hear it? It’s truth “To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Or consequences 47He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” Let’s make sure we choose truth. Hold to Jesus’ teachings. No matter what. Then you really His disciple. And the win is much bigger than a game show prize. It’s that glory of of heaven! Amen.