Sermon – October 29th, 2023 – Reformation Day Observed
Hope Lutheran Church, Port Coquitlam, BC
Text: John 8, Romans 3
Theme: Series: “Active in Love, Growing in Christ”
3 – Bible-based
Intr – When we use synonyms, we are usually emphasizing and amplifying something we say, right? I mean, if you exchange a word in a phrase for another word that says the same thing, people won’t immediately disagree with you. For example:
-Canada is a beautiful/wonderful country to live in.
-The Lions are a great/awesome football team.
-You look so pretty/beautiful.
-This ideology is terrible/very bad.
A synonym does not change the meaning of what is being said, and usually people continue to agree on the idea presented.
Well, that may be true in almost all cases. I can show you that on one occasion at least, it may be different. Here is one well-known sentence that if you use it, 99.9% of people would agree with you:
“The truth will set you free.”
You can say it in a partisan meeting, in a online meeting or in the office. You can say that in a small classroom or in a 100,000 spectators stadium and you will have people agreeing with you. It only takes utilizing a synonym though to make things change:
“Jesus will set you free.”
Jesus is the exact synonym of “truth” in this sentence. However, now many people will stop agreeing with you, perhaps going in the opposite direction. Now you are not being inclusive anymore, but exclusive. Perhaps even some Christians would ask you politely not to do so in order to not offend anyone.
This is the closing of our sermon series “Active in love, Growing in Christ” and we are back to the basic. The Bible is the Word of God, and it is the only true source of the Truth that sets us free. The Truth that sets free is Jesus. As a Church we will never refrain from asserting that truth. Because we are a Truth-based Church. Which means that we are a Bible Based Church. The Bible is centred in Christ. Christ is the Truth that Sets us free. We are a Truth, Bible-based, Christ-Centred Church.
1 – Reading
First, being a Bible-based Church and people means that we read the Bible. We don’t just skim over, take out some parts to match our ideas or have it decorating the entry hall of our house.
A good reading of the Bible considers:
This applies to most things in life, much more for the Bible. Taking the text out of context, you get a pretext to say whatever you want. Psalm 14 for example says that “there is no God”. Isaiah 45 has the Lord saying, “I create evil”. And Jesus says: “Don’t judge and you won’t be judged”, so you can never judge anything and anyone. And so on.
Let’s use today’s Gospel as a paradigm on how to read the Bible to remain a Bible-based Church, and not a Bible-somewhat-inspired one. Jesus says in John 8:
-If you remain in the Word
-You are my disciples
-You will know the truth
-And the Truth shall set you free.
The word calls us to Him.
The Word makes us His disciples.
That’s when we know the Truth – Jesus
And then Truth sets us free – from sin, hell and eternal death.
As Bible-based Christians we want to teach, confess, and witness what the Bible says. And not:
– What the Bible should say
–What I make the Bible say
–What the Bible says to me.
A Bible-based life is one where you acknowledge what the Bible says. And then, from what it says, how it shapes your life and leads your path.
2 – Relevance
Then comes the question: Why bother reading it? Is the Bible still relevant? Can a centuries-old book still communicate with today?
Short answer: It is.
The Bible will stop being relevant when its center is not in Christ, but in our opinion or in the current cultural mood or hegemony. If the Bible is attached to the current time, it will soon be outdated and irrelevant. However, the Bible never loses its relevance because her centre is Christ. He is God and Man, eternal, saving, never changing, forgiving Saviour. He is present in daily life, and he shapes the way we live. This is the content that will never cease to be relevant for every generation until the last one.
The readings for today point to this truth:
John – Jesus uses the Bible to show the truth about Himself.
Psalm 46 – God is our fortress at every time.
Romans 3 – We are saved from the curse of Law through the Gospel in Christ.
The Bible is relevant because:
–Centred in Christ
–It is food for your soul
–It is content for life.
_That is why it is life-directed. the Bible is not a license agreement, in which you scroll down and click “I agree” without reading it. You are suposed to dwell in the Scriptures and use them it in daily life.
The 2 parts of the Catechism we connect to today are: The Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. The Creed teaches us who God is. The Lord’s Prayer is a summary of how daily life with Him is.
3 – Reformation
Today we celebrate reformation Sunday. An important date for the Christian Church where men raised their hearts and voices to stand by the Scripture, to be centred in Jesus and only through faith. It was a Bible-based Reformation that proclaimed: Faith Alone, Scripture Alone, Grace alone.
This points to the reality that you are never alone. He is always present with you and in you.
The Truth sets us free. Jesus sets us free. We are free to live with him, to worship him, to share him in our daily life.
But maybe, still one question or affirmative may remain around us. Look at this cartoon. (“The books that you rely upon, who wrote them?”)
Let’s leave the Bible aside for a minute and grant that it is just a book written by man. Now, what is the other book in the entire world that could give us better content? None. The Bible was in fact written by humans. It contains real stories of real people connected by faith in God. But we know it was inspired by the Holy Spirit so that we know it is the true Word of God.
Cc – One last play of words with synonyms
Bible Based = Christ centred = Life-directed. Which are all synonyms to a life that is active in love and growing in Christ daily.
On this I am sure we all agree. We agree now, tomorrow, and every day.
 Also sets us free from all other sorts of “truths” that may be out there and around us in THE truth – Christ.
WORD – he Bible IS the Word of God, from cover to cover.
DISCIPLES – Believers in that Word that become followers. The Followers of Christ go and make disciples baptizing, teach, live in fellowship.
TRUTH – God justifies is by faith, apart from works of the law (Romans 3)
FREEDOM – We are free to serve, praise, love, love, give. We are free to live inside our Mighty Fortress that protects us from evil. (Psalm 46)