4th Week after Pentecost 7-3-2022
July 03, 2022 | Glenn Kappelmann
Passage: Luke 10:1-11
Okay. We'll see if this can stay on my ear for the next 35 minutes. In the history of the Christian church, many people have tried to summarize the gospel, to put it into a very small space and tell you what the Gospel of Jesus Christ means for the world. You probably know one of them. It started, this guy started very early in the church. Saint John, when he was writing his gospel, was able to encapsulate the meaning of the gospel in chapter three verse 16, "for God so loved the world that he gave." That's a summary of the gospel in and of itself. During the Reformation, Martin Luther and the other reformers tried to encapsulate the gospel with the phrase "justification by faith." You're saved not because of what you do, not because of works, but because you believe that Jesus Christ died for you. It's "your saved by the faith" that the spirit gives you in Jesus Christ. That was a mighty force for many, many years. Then there was this Swiss-German theologian named Carl Bart. He was popular when I was in seminary. He wrote his entire dogmatics -- and, you know, most seminary professors, when they write a dogmatics, they write a volume, maybe a big, thick volume. But Carl Bart didn't do that. Carl Bart started lecturing, I think, in the 1920s, and he lectured on creation first and he wrote up his dogmatics on creation. And that was Volume One. And then he went on and wrote the rest of his dogmatic Volume two Volume three volume ...
He preached and lectured until he's an older man. And so his dogmatics is a long series of books. Okay. And he was very honored in the 1950s. He came over to this country one time and was giving some lectures. And after one of his lectures, they had a question session and one of the people in the front row said, "Professor Bart. What is the most profound thought that you have ever had?" And I'm sure that Bart had to go through all of those ten volumes of his, but he didn't take all that time. He thought for a minute and then he smiled and he said, The most profound thought that I've ever had is, "Jesus loves me. This I know for the Bible tells me so." An encapsulation of the gospel.
I'd like to give you another encapsulation of the gospel that I ran across and has become very significant for me. It was written by one Richard Halverson. He's a Presbyterian preacher, and he became the Chaplain of the United States Synod. Chaplain Halverson, summary of the Gospel is in two sentences. And so hold on to these next two sentences. I hope that you'll listen to all the sermon, but if you don't hold on to these two sentences, the first one is, There is nothing you can do to make God love you more." The second sentence. "There is nothing you can do to make God love you less." I think that that's a fantastic and profound thought. Let's look at it closer. Nothing you can do to make God love you more. We have to hear that in the church because it's so easy to get the idea that we have to do something in order to make God love us and to take us into his heaven. We have to hear that because it's the easiest thing from the pulpit here. I've preached this many times. Do this, do that as a Christian, be this way, do that. And we get the idea that it's what we do that makes us Christians. That's not the way it works in Christianity. Sure we're supposed to do something, but that comes later. The first thing about Christianity is that God has done something. God has done something for your salvation and for mine. He gave his Son to die on a cross so that your sins could be forgiven. My sins could be forgiven, and we could be acceptable in his presence. It's not that God did 90% of the work and we have 10% yet to do in order to be really clean. What God did is 100%.
Let me give you an example of how this might work. If you went out in the public, and ask people, "do you think that God will take you into heaven? Do you think you you will get into heaven?" The person would probably look at you and say, "well, I hope so. I try to do the best I can." That's the reason that they'll give you for having that little bit of hope. I try to do the best I can. I do good deeds. I belong to this. I do this. I. I. I. That's not going to get anybody into heaven. Heaven is a free gift to you and to me. It's, of course, a foreign thought for us. We don't get anything for free in this society. Capitalism, our nation is built on the idea that you do your investment and you do your work and you reap your your rewards. And if you sit back and just don't do anything, nothing comes your way either. It's been a great boon to a lot of people. But Christianity doesn't work that way.
Christianity is different. God has paid for your salvation, 100%. Jesus Christ died for you. When you believe this, when you accept this gift, salvation is yours 100%. No ands, ifs, no I hopes -- it's yours. God has told you that in his Word. God has made His promise to you. And He keeps his promise. After that gift is received, of course, we're going to do something about it. We're going to say thank you to God. And we're going to try and live according to his precepts and do for him, do for others what he would have us do for them. And so the works that come in Christianity, the things that Christians do -- and they've done mighty works in this world. Mighty works. When you think of all the hospitals that that the churches have built. When you think of all the homes that the churches have built. Our society is in a much better shape because the church has done its work. But its work is not to earn salvation. Its work is to say thank you to God for what God has done for you and for me. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more.
And there is nothing you can do to make God love you less. That thought struck me. That thought has to be preached clear and loud through every church to every person who comes through the door. Those people who have given up on their goals, who've given up on their dreams, who've given up on their lives, need to hear that God loves them in spite of mistakes from the past, in spite of what they may have done throughout their history. Maybe you are a person who feels like it might be tough for God to love you because of what you've done in your life. Christianity may be all right for your spouse or for your parents or for someone else, your neighbors or friends. But you're just too bad. God can't forgive you. You've tried and tried and failed time after time, after time after time. When you said God, I'll try. How how often does God have to forgive you? But Christianity says God forgives you every time, all the time. God forgives you because Jesus Christ paid for your sins 100%.
Christianity works differently than this world works. God does not love you for what you do for Him or for others. God loves you for who you are -- His creation, his child, his beloved. We have to make sure that everyone who touches our property here at the church and every person that we touch knows this to be true. There is nothing that you can do to make God love you less. And all of us need to hear that, it's not just for them. That message is for you and me too. Every Sunday when we come to church, what do we do? The first thing in our service? We confess our sins, we tell God that we're sorry and we ask for forgiveness. And each Sunday the pastor is privileged to proclaim to you that you are forgiven for Jesus Christ. The most important words that you hear when you come to church you hear right at the beginning of the service, "God has forgiven you for Jesus Christ. Now go out and live in that forgiveness." That's the message of Christianity. There is nothing that you can do to make God love you less.
And so we're coming to the end of this sermon. And I would bet that if you're a very observant worshipper. You've said to yourself, Preacher, that was all right, but you shouldn't surely didn't say anything about the text. You just left that text lie by the side and just went on and preached your own ideas. No. First of all, that idea, that is a summary of the gospel. And secondly, I'm going to touch on the text right now. Jesus sent out his disciples in this text. Jesus sent them out to do his work and to do his will. And I'm going to send you out. No, no. Jesus is going to send you out today. And He's going to send you out with two little cards. Two little cards. And that card says on it, "There is nothing you can do to make God love you more. There is nothing you can do to make God love you less." One of those cards I want you to keep for yourself. To remind you that Jesus loves you, and the Bible tells you so. And the second little card I want you to give to a friend, to a neighbor, to a coworker, and let them know that the gospel is for them too. There is nothing that they can do to make God love them more and nothing that they can do to make God love them less. That's the message and that's your mission. Go out and share those cards. They'll be passed around while we're doing the passing of the peace. You'll get them then. So peace be with you. That's the end of the sermon.