We wish to welcome everyone today, all our visitors, today. We want to thank you for helping us celebrate this special occasion. May God by His Spirit bring comfort and peace to you through the promises of Christ today and always.
At times we will be referring to our specific, local flock here, (Grace By Faith Ev. Lutheran Church), yet, we also want to confess that there are many flocks, here in Norfolk, here in Nebraska, here in the U.S.A., and around the entire world, who confess Christ. And we are thankful for this, that God’s Word is like rain. Wherever it comes down, there, at that place, there must be fruit. There is no reason to doubt. No reason to be afraid. Where God’s Word is – God is – salvation is – eternal life is - the resurrected Christ is - who lives to bring comfort and peace to us, promising, “Because I live, ye shall live also.”
And there is really only one Church – one Church of all true believers in Christ. Scripture says there is “One Lord, one faith, one Baptism. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” And what is that one faith, that one Baptism? “Whosoeover believeth in Christ, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” He is the rock, He is the chief cornerstone, that never moves, and there is no other. Upon Christ, and Christ alone, true saving faith is built, by God’s Spirit, through the Word.
Grace By Faith has been blessed greatly, for twenty years, because of these promises in Christ. And during our 20 years of existence, which has been by the grace of God alone, we must admit, it hasn’t always been easy. We’ve had our struggles. We’ve had some tough times and some definite battles. Even as Scripture says, “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
But, during both the good and the bad, both the ups and the downs, through it all, hasn’t one thing always remained the same?, which is, our only strength and comfort? Christ is the one foundation that never moves. He is the chief cornerstone, and whoever believes on Him, shall not be confounded – shall not be let down.
His Spirit keeps calling us by the Gospel. He keeps knocking on the door of our heart, saying, “Come unto Me, believe in Me – all things are now ready regarding salvation. Only believe, and thou shalt be saved." And He gives us the gift of faith, by His Spirit and Word. We remember: His Word is powerful. It bears fruit. It’s not in vain. It doesn’t return to Him void.
As small as we are, sometimes it’s tempting to feel that smallness, and to feel despised, and alone. But let us be comforted, Where two or three are gathered in Christ’s name, He is there in the midst of them. He is here in our midst. Words of comfort, these are. We may be small, and in the eyes of the world, so small, that to them, we are worth nothing. But the size of God’s heart, is big. Among us, among so few, God’s grace is still so plentiful, and so forgiving, and merciful, that not one mistake of ours, has not been forgiven. All is forgiven in Christ Jesus, who went to the cross to make everything right between us and God. He has, and He will continue to forgive us our sins. Whoever believes on this rock, Jesus Christ, the King of forgiveness, shall not be confounded.
When doubts come knocking, when the storms of life come blowing, and beating, upon our faith, Christ is still the rock, that never moves. And whoever believes on Him, will not be let down.
Many say, “Come on. Do I really need a church? Do I really need a pastor? Can’t I just go directly to God on my own?” But it is God who says, He is present where His Word is, and where is His Word?, but among those who share it, who share the good news?
We don’t always like to be viewed as people who are dependent on anyone, or anything. But it is God Himself who established the church, for our comfort, for our assurance, that our sins are truly forgiven.
God says, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. Baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Take eat, take drink, this is my body and blood, given and shed for you, for the remission of all your sins.” And how can we fullfil those Gospel commands, without being around other Christians? And without having a gathering of believers in Christ? Christ rose from the dead, and the Bible says, comfort one another with these words. How can we do that, without one another?
What is more important than receiving rest and peace in our soul, through those words, preached, shared, taught, believed? “Where two or thee are gathered in His name, He is there”. In His name, meaning in His teaching that Christ accomplsihed all things needful for us to be saved. He had a perfect sinless birth for us. He lived the perfect life for us satisfying all the law required of us. He died our death so that we never have to go through it alone. He rose from it all, and promises, Behold, I make all things new, as He gives us that new life in the forgiveness of sins, and frees us from the power of sin. He enables us to live for Him. Whoever believes in Him, will not be confounded.
Where two or three are gathered implies that we choose one to preach. For Scripture says, how can they believe in whom they have not heard, and how shall they hear without a preacher? The point is not to follow me or any preacher. Jesus says, follow Him. He is the way, the truth the life. Follow His Word. But since God is not the author of confusion, through the church, He calls ministers, who are not to be glorified, who are not above the people, but actually below – for the word “minister” means, servant. He gets to serve by bringing the precious promises of Christ, through which God comforts, heals, binds broken hearts, and assures us that all is forgiven. Only believe, and thou shalt be saved.For where 2 or 3 are gathered in Christ’s name, He is with them, He is in our midst. And He will continue to bless us, to keep us, strengthen us, comfort us, assure us. All things needful for our salvation is complete. For Christ has died, and has risen, and will never die again. We will rise too. Amen.