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What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.


For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (ESV)


Our Contribution

Thursday of Easter 3

23 April 2015

"Could you make a contribution to the needs of the church?" is the question that might be asked of a major donor during a campaign to raise funds for the work of the Lord. Stewardship of the gifts of the Lord demands that the donor recognize that he is not contributing his own possessions when he makes a gift, but giving to the work of the Lord what is the Lord's in the first place. He is giving the Lord's, not what he claims is "his own." So while he may be contributing everything, He is giving nothing. This is why stewardship should be seen as such a pleasure; we give what is not ours in the first place. We are giving away what is God's! When we give, we should feel like the main character, played by Richard Pryor in the movie "Brewster's Millions," in which a man is charged with spending $20 million that is not his as a test. What fun!


Making a contribution to the Lord is a joy. But, what kind of contribution did we make at the font of baptism? What is our part to be contributed to the Lord there at the laver of life? We contribute our sin and the death that comes from it. This is the contribution the Lord is seeking from us. From our perspective, this contribution is less than worthless. Who would want to hoard sin and mortality and keep such deadly things close to him? This is like contracting bubonic plague and deciding to enjoy it, keep it to yourself, and die alone and horribly in great suffering. Who would not seek instead the treatment that alleviates the disease and brings healing? Yet, this is the human madness that leads people to decline to contribute their own sin and death to the physician of the soul, Jesus Christ at baptism. There is no fathoming the wickedness of the human heart in its mad desire to retain for itself this worthless contribution to salvation.


In the novella, The Hammer of God, over dinner the new vicar proudly tells the aged pastor that he had given his heart to Jesus, as though that were meritorious in God's sight. The old warrior of the cross, replied quietly, "What makes you think Jesus wants your heart?" stopping the younger man in his tracks. How different the view of Scripture is, when we listen in on King David, who cries out, "Create in me a clean heart, O God" (Ps 51:10), in which the verb used by David is the same used by Moses in the first verse of the Bible, "And God created..." (Gn 1:1). The word means "create out of nothing." Whether it is God's power to create the universe, which He does without our cooperation (Job 38:4), or God's gracious gift of salvation, it is equally without our work, cooperation, or merit. David had only the filth of his vile heart to "offer" God, and in return God had only an abundance of grace to shower down upon the sinner. A great change takes place when the Lord gives us His grace in place of our contribution.


John Chrysostom


"'Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life' (Rm 6:3-4). What does being "baptized into his death" mean? That it is with a view to our dying as He did. For baptism is the cross. What the cross and burial is to Christ, baptism is to us, even if not in the same respect. For He Himself died and was buried in the flesh, but we have done both to sin. Therefore Paul does not say, planted together in His death, but in the likeness of His death. For both are a death, but not of the same subject. One is of the flesh, which is Christ's; the other the death of sin, which is ours. Since the former is real, so is the latter. But if it is real, what is of our part again must be contributed.


"He hints, along with the duty of a careful walk, at the subject of the resurrection. How? Do you believe, he means, that Christ died, and that He was raised again? Believe then the same of yourself. For this is like the other, since both cross and burial is yours. For if thou hast shared in death and burial, how much more will you share in resurrection and life. For now if the greater is done away with, the sin I mean, it is not right to doubt any longer about the lesser, the doing away with death.


"Paul leaves this for the present to the conscience of his hearers to reason out. After the resurrection to come had been set before us, he demands of us another resurrection, even the new way of life, which is brought about in the present life by a change of habits.When then the sexually immoral person becomes chaste, the covetous merciful, the angry person calmed, even here a resurrection has taken place, the prelude to the other. How is it a resurrection? Why, because sin is put to death, and righteousness has risen again, and the old life has been made to vanish, and this new and angelic one is being lived in. When you hear of a new life, look for a great alteration, a large change.

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 10

Lord Jesus, I have been killed and raised to new life with You in my baptism. Empower me by my baptism so that I might be chaste, merciful, and calm. Let me live in Your resurrection, walking in newness of life. In You my sin is put to death, righteousness has risen, and the old life has been crucified. I am looking for a great alteration, a large change, because You are my God. Amen.


For the elderly who are struggling with suffering and weakness in advancing years, that they might be repose in the care of the Lord Jesus


For all those who are struggling to be faithful to the commands of the Lord in the midst of an unfaithful generation, that they might confess the divine truth in their life and action


For the Praesidium of the LCMS as it meets together, that its members would be kept safe in their travels and that their meeting would be productive and of service to the church  

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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Memorial Lutheran Church | 5800 Westheimer Rd. | Houston | TX | 77057