Less Than Christian Preaching
Wednesday of Pentecost 19
28 September 2016
Christ is often preached in such a way that the hearer yearns to emulate His remarkable and pristine holiness. And this is useful as far as it goes. There is a sense in which Christ is the example and divine archetype of the Christian life. We are to emulate Him if we ourselves are to exhibit holy lives.
However, Christ as example is not the gospel nor is it even uniquely Christian preaching. Many non-Christian religions, such as Mormonism, Unitarian-Universalism, and Islam use Christ as an example to be followed by those who want to live a good life. The goal is to become god-like. There is one major drawback to this method, we aren't God. So we will always fail. And God knows we will, even if we don't. He has a much better and more certain way of salvation prepared for us than the one we do on our own. He sent His Son to bear the curse of the law, that we might not bear it.
God's action in Christ saves, not our action to follow Christ's example. His doing is always superior to our doing. The vicarious atonement is the center of the Christian religion, that is, that Christ becomes the sinner for all of us and dies in our place. His blood covers sin. His suffering and death satisfies the wrath of God. His holiness fulfills the law of God, that it would no longer be a curse for us. Any other preaching is less than Christian.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"This text (Gal 3:13) is clear, that all men, even the apostles or prophets or patriarchs, would have remained under the curse if Christ had not put Himself in opposition to sin, death, the curse of the law, and the wrath and judgment of God, and if He had not overcome them in His own body. For those savage monsters could not be overcome by any human power. Now Christ is not the law, He is not a work of the law...; but He is a divine and human person who took sin, the condemnation of the law, and death upon Himself, not for Himself but for us. Therefore, the whole emphasis is on the phrase 'for us.'
"Therefore we should not imagine Christ as an innocent and private person who is holy and righteous only for Himself; this is what the legalists and nearly all the fathers, Jerome and others, have done. It is, of course, true that Christ is the purest of persons; but this is not the place to stop. For you do not yet have Christ, even though you know that He is God and man. You truly have Him only when you believe that this altogether pure and innocent person has been granted to you by the Father as your High Priest and Redeemer, yes, as your Slave. Putting off His innocence and holiness and putting on your sinful person, He bore your sin, death, and curse; He became a sacrifice and a curse for you, in order thus to set you free from the curse of the law."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 3.13
1 John 1:5-10

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (ESV)
Lord Jesus, High Priest and Redeemer, You have offered Yourself in my place on the altar of the cross to buy me back from death and the curse of the law. Freed by You, let me follow Your pristine and holy example unto Your glory and the upbuilding of Your holy church. Amen.
For all those who suffer Cystic Fibrosis, that God the Lord would continue to give them the breath of life and support them in every physical need
For all catechumens, both children and adults, that they might be brought into the death of Christ through the faithful teaching of catechists
For James Hollowach who will be undergoing therapy for cancer, that God would give him the gift of healing
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
Sent by smurray@mlchouston.org in collaboration with
Constant Contact