Sermons

Identifying As Christian

May 5, 2024 Speaker: Ray Lorthioir Series: Sermons 2024

Passage: Genesis 3:5, Mark 1:15, 1 John 3:8

Sermon 5-5-24

Pastor Ray Lorthioir

Trinity Lutheran Church

W. Hempstead, NY

The Sixth Sunday of Easter

 

Identifying As Christian

Online, there are a number of young, mostly Christian, women who have renounced feminism and have taken on the role of a traditional wife. The phenomenon is called Trad Wife for Traditional Wife. These are mostly women in their twenties, from what is called Generation Z. What’s going on? You would think all of this generation would be in the forefront of the most radical movements. But it’s not so. In fact, it’s been discovered through poling that the current generation of high school males are the most conservative group in the last 50 years. This is probably in reaction to the anti-male propaganda they’ve been receiving from feminist teachers throughout their school careers.

Anecdotal information consistently says that there are any number of young people who are looking at the course of the world around them and the course of their own lives and are saying to themselves, “there’s something wrong.” It’s these young people with eagle eyes who are the future of Christ’s Church. For, those looking for something better than what exists in this world will find it. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” And speaking of the necessary things of this life like food, clothing and shelter, Jesus said in Matthew 6:32-33, “32. . . your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

However, if these young people seek, what will they find? In many cases, they will find that Christ’s Church has been corrupted by many of the same forces that have torn down the historic Christian based Western society. So, will their experience be any different from anything they can have in the secular society? 

Historically, the Christian life gave the people of the West a life order, family order and community order in line with the teachings of Yahweh given through Moses, the Prophets, the Apostles and especially through Messiah Jesus. Christian people knew they were Christian. And even if they were far less than devout, they knew the basic Christian narrative about life. They knew that Christians think and behave in a certain way. Christians do these things, but not those. They knew that they had an identity as a Christian.

Within Christianity, certain groups like the Amish or the Mennonites or even the monastic orders went to extremes to identify as Christians, even to modes of dress, and other distinctives of church life. Here, in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, you can easily identify the Orthodox by their dress, their behavior on Sabbath and the festivals, and by their camaraderie. I’m certain it’s not perfect, but most Jewish people I meet here know who they are, and why they do what they do. Indeed, it’s interesting to watch the men as they go to and fro from their daily prayer meetings called Minyans. It’s interesting to watch their weekly rituals in preparation for and observance of the Sabbath. For the Orthodox, all of life has a ritual rhythm focused on the Queen of days, the Sabbath. All highly cohesive human groups have rituals that bind them together. If you want to belong, you adopt and participate in those rituals.

This past week, I happened upon a speech in good American English given by a young Dutch woman to the CPAC meeting that was held recently in Hungary. Her name is Eva Vlaardingerbroek. And on her Youtube page she wrote, “The attack on our Judeo-Christian faith is prophesied [in] Psalm 2. [T]he nations are raging, trying to throw off our Biblical Laws and Messiah and replace them with Sharia Law. The end days are upon us.” 

In her speech, Eva called for the end of the present European Union because of the Union’s policies on immigration. She quoted the following statistics as examples. Amsterdam is now 56% migrant. Rotterdam is 60%. Brussels is 70% migrant. And the vast majority of these migrants are Muslims from Africa and the Middle East. In all these places the native European population is now outnumbered.

But what really attracted my attention was a statement she made near the end of her speech concerning one consequence of this scenario. “When we hear that Christian kids in Germany are now converting to Islam to fit in, do we do enough?”

Muslims are very ritual oriented, culturally cohesive and they know exactly who they are. So, if you’re the lackadaisical cultural Christian child of lackadaisical cultural Christians and you don’t know who you are and you feel left out of the majority culture at your school, why not become Muslim? 

Islam no longer has to invade with the sword. They can take over by concentrating sheer of numbers of immigrants in any given location. More importantly, once in majority, they offer spiritual substance in the midst of the spiritual drought that secularism, atheism and Marxism have produced. It’s a terrible, wrong-headed spiritual substance. But it is a cohesive substance nevertheless — something that secularism and atheism lack.

What is their spiritual substance? Islam claims it’s “righteousness.” To be sure, Islamic “righteousness” is a false righteousness based on a false creator god. Those who adopt it will have to stand in judgment before their true Creator God, Yahweh. Nevertheless, Islam claims an eternal “righteousness” and purpose. Young people who have known nothing but aimless, self-indulgent, narcissistic, empty pleasure in a meaningless secular existence are attracted to it for that very reason.

At the end of the Western Roman Empire, barbarian tribes were continuously invading and setting up their kingdoms on formerly Roman soil. But something amazing happened. The invading pagan tribes adopted the Christianity of the native Roman population.

This is not happening to the tribes now invading Europe for a very simple reason. Europe is no longer Christian. However, people like Eva are calling for a revival of the Christian religion in Europe, simply because the false righteousness of Sharia Islam is a terrifying reality. God has His ways of creating interest in His Messiah. Doesn’t He? 

Germany was the place where Jesus started a Reformation to restore His Church to the proper catholic (universal) doctrines. Therefore, I don’t find it surprising that Germany was also the place the devil used to hollow out the church from within by starting the higher critical method of interpreting the Bible in the 1850’s. I’m also not surprised that the devil also led that nation to initiate two world wars — the first with a Christian monarch and then Hitler. It’s also not surprising that the Final Solution popped up on its soil. Finally, I’m not surprised that the devil has deceived many Germans into being indifferent to Christianity.

In similar fashion, I’m not surprised that the devil is attacking the American church both from within and without in the wake of the huge American missionary effort throughout the world in past decades. I’m also not surprised by the surging American indifference to Christianity in recent decades. Nevertheless, isn’t it interesting how Yahweh is using the threat of Islam to cause even pagans and atheists to reconsider the Christian foundation of Western civilization.

And this leads us to consider how we might recover Christ’s Church as the traditional, nourishing, cohesive body for daily life that our Lord meant it to be. It all comes down to knowing the doctrine — the reality — that our Lord wants us to understand and believe about life on this earth.

We can make up our own doctrines — our own realities — about life on earth. But that’s precisely what’s causing the new look at Christianity. There are present absurd doctrines that say men can be women and women men. Men can become pregnant and menstruate. Pagan women can safely copulate with as many partners as any pagan man. Any person has the right to steal up to $950 of goods without being prosecuted for a felony. All white people — and only white people — are conceived and born racist. Human beings are descended from protozoa through apes. All this, along with much more insane doctrine, must be believed and confessed in order to be a true atheist. And Bill Maher still thinks Christian doctrine is absurd. In the present darkness it’s Christian doctrine that’s proving to be reliable and true.

So where to begin? Both John the Baptist and Jesus began with this assertion: Mark 1:15, “. . . ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” Jesus sometimes put it this way: Matthew 3:2, “. . . ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

The Kingdom of God is from heaven. It’s from the transcendent realm that the atheists have spent so much time trying to convince us doesn’t exist. And most importantly the King of the Kingdom is Yahweh, the glorious, uncreated, eternal, infinite, self-existing and perfectly righteous Creator of everything that exists. In a great vision, the Apostle John was shown a scene from the King’s throne room: Revelation 4:9-11, “9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.’”

From what do we need to repent, then? What do we need to turn away from so that we may enter the presence of our Creator King without condemnation? That’s the big question.

For the answer, we have to delve into the opening chapters of Genesis. There, we’re told in Genesis 1:26-27, “26 Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Many things can be said about the Image of God, but we’re going to zero in on the two most important. First, if Yahweh is perfect righteousness, then anyone created in His Image is also perfectly righteous. Second, those Yahweh created in His Image are meant to have perfect, righteous, intimate communion and fellowship with Him, in such a way that they are continually in perfect agreement with their Creator in all things — especially good and evil. In this relationship, there is only one God. All the rest are His creatures, forever dependent upon Him. You were created for precisely this. So was I.

But do things have to be this way? Do you and I have to exist like this? From our Creator’s perspective, Yes. For there is no Creator other than Him. We don’t exist without Him. But, must things be this way from the perspective of Yahweh’s creatures — all those He created in both the heavens and the earth? Yes, if we want to live in righteousness.

However, Yahweh has given all an alternative. The Serpent made it known to Eve when he told her about the results of eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I’m going to read the Serpent’s words from the King James Version since that translation is the closest to the original Hebrew. Genesis 3:5 “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (KJV). The Hebrew text says literally, you will be gods.

Scripture tells us that Yahweh created creatures that are called gods. In several Scriptural passages we are shown Yahweh surrounded by a council of His god creatures. The Serpent was a liar, so I refuse to draw any conclusions about these god creatures from his words.

However, it’s clear that one thing the Serpent said was true, based on the actual effect of eating the fruit. Adam and Eve each became their own god, forced to define good and evil for themselves and then to act upon their definitions. This is the nightmarish result of Original Sin. For separated from the perfect righteousness of our Creator God, we can’t help but make definitions and take actions contrary to His righteousness.

We are our own gods. Each of us is. And this is what makes life so difficult, not only with each other but with Yahweh Himself. It’s what creates family feuds, marital disputes, gang wars, holocausts, and world wars. It’s what leaves us anxious, unhappy, angry and vengeful in this world. It’s what leaves us thrilled at doing the forbidden. It’s what leaves us in despair over poverty, sickness and death. Ultimately it’s what leaves us raging against God Himself. Indeed, do you understand what’s at the root of wokism and Marxism? It’s rage against Yahweh for the conditions we’re subject to in this life on account of sin. All this evil and more is what Jesus called us to repent of.

However, at the same time, He also commanded us to “believe the good news” — that the Kingdom of God is near. What He meant is that He, the Creator King, had come near, in person, to untangle the whole wretched human situation. As we’re told in 1John 3:8, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”

How this was done is described in the Apostles Creed. Jesus was sent “conceived by the holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.”

As we’ve explained in previous sermons, it was the fabulous news that a truly dead human being had been resurrected from the dead in an immortal body that caused pagan gentiles of the first century to want to know more. And that desire has continued right up to the present. It will only increase as proof of Jesus’ resurrection continues to come in from the scholarly study of ancient documents.

It’s clear from Christian history that believers in Jesus’ resurrection also became fascinated with His redeeming work on the cross. Almighty God became flesh and subjected Himself to the worst imaginable indignities and cruelties in order to untangle everything and destroy the works of the devil.

The suffering and death of a real human being was necessary in order to satisfy the perfect and just wrath of our Holy, Righteous Creator against us for Original Sin and all of humanity’s sins. Yahweh, the Son, obediently took on mortal human flesh to make atonement for us, so that in Messiah Jesus, Yahweh can grant real forgiveness of real sins to every repentant sinner. Therefore, in Jesus, real reconciliation with our Creator exists. Real justification of our lives before the Creator exists. Real restoration to the Image of God already exists for all who have believed the Good News. And upon death, full restoration to the Image of God will be consummated.

This, and much more, is the blessed foundation of the Christian worldview. All who truly believe and act upon these things know who they are and what their place is in this world. All who truly believe and act upon these things know the righteousness of our Creator God and become willing participants in His righteousness here. All who truly believe and act upon these things live in patient expectation of the full freedom from the sinful nature that awaits believers at the return of their all-powerful Messiah. All who truly believe and act upon these things know the opposition and persecution they will receive from those still in bondage to the dark ruler of this present world. But all who truly believe and act upon the Good News are no longer terrified of physical death. For, beyond death there is righteous life everlasting with the Messiah who has won their hearts and their love. Traditional Church builds such a foundation under its people. And upon this real foundation, family, home, community and even national life can be built in the present age. To God be the glory, now and forever. Amen.

All Bible quotes are from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

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