In Christ Alone

13th Sunday after Pentecost

School Opening Service

In Christ Alone

Text: Acts 4:12

Intro

“Knowledge is power,” the old saying goes.  The more you know, the more powerful you are.  Others have said similar things.  Thomas Jefferson once said that, “Information is the currency of democracy.”  Ronald Reagan said that, “Information is the oxygen of the modern age.”  Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge and information you have the more powerful you become.

I watched an entertaining movie this last week where the White House was overtaken and the president was kidnapped.  What did the terrorists want?  Information.  They wanted to extract codes to American nuclear bombs.  Watch any good heist movie.  What do modern bank robbers want?  They don’t want piles of cash anymore.  They want security codes and account numbers and passwords so they can wire the money to their accounts.  What do cyber criminals want with all of their phishing schemes in your Email inbox?  They want your information—your passwords, your bank account numbers, your social security number, your birthday.

Go to the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. and you’ll see all kinds of cool gadgets and gismos.  There’s a reason we have a Federal Bureau of Investigation and a Central Intelligence Agency. Why?  Knowledge is power.  The more knowledge you have, the more powerful you become.

Body

It makes us wonder if we know enough.  Do we have the right amount of knowledge?  Am I missing any information?  Is there anything else I need to know?

I suppose you could make an argument that there is only one thing you need to know.  All the passwords and bank account numbers and social security numbers and phone numbers and birthdays—that’s all important information.  But that information only has to do with worldly things, which means none of it really matters when you die.  And no matter how much we like hiding behind our favorite people and possessions, we all know eventually we will die.  So you could say that the one bit of information you need to know is this:  How do I get to heaven?

Lots of people have lots of different answers to that question.  Some say that if you sit and meditate long enough you might possibly become one with god and the universe and attain nirvana.  Some would say if you live a worthy enough life and build up enough karma, over time you will finally become one with god.  Some say that if you go on a jihad and kill infidels you get a fast track to heaven.  Some pray to the sun, moon, and stars.  Some have claimed they were a Messiah like Jimmy Jones or David Koresh.  Jews are still waiting for a Messiah.  Some say that all people go to heaven.  Some say that only good people go to heaven.

There are lots of different answers to one all-important question:  How do I get to heaven?  But though there are many roads, all but one are dead ends.  Though there are many answers, all but one are incorrect.  We heard the answer to this most important question from the lips of Jesus’ disciple Peter today in Acts 4:12, Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”  There is only one correct answer.  There is only one way, one truth, one life.  We are saved In Christ Alone.

I’m thankful for that answer, too, because none of the other answers were very good.  I’m thankful that I don’t have to turn to the sun, moon, and stars for salvation.  What comfort is there in inanimate objects that can’t talk, that can’t listen, that were made by something else?

I’m thankful that I don’t have to turn to some statue or shrine for salvation.  I don’t have to pray to big-bellied Buddha or to one of the one million Hindu gods, hoping I got the right one.  I don’t have to pray to my ancestors.  Though I like their last name, they can’t hear me or help me.

I’m thankful that I don’t have to turn to any other human for salvation.  All other humans are imperfect like I am.  All other humans were made by God and thus less powerful than God and thus can’t really help me.  I’m thankful I don’t have to turn to David Koresh or Jimmy Jones.  Besides, I heard his Kool-Aid didn’t taste very good.

Perhaps most of all, I’m thankful that I don’t have to turn to myself for salvation.  If my going to heaven depended on how good of a person I was, then I would be in deep trouble.  See, you might look at me and say, “Oh, he’s a pretty nice guy.  He’s a good person.”  And I would say, “Boy do I have you fooled.”  You don’t see everything I do.  You don’t hear everything I say.  You don’t know everything I think.  I’m rotten to the core.

And so are you.  We all are sinful.  We may have an outward appearance of being pretty good people, but underneath that faux façade is a rotten core filled with lies and curses and greed and lust and anger and an endless list of other sins.

What an utter failure it would be if I had to look to myself for salvation, if I had to earn heaven on my own.  I’m the one who needs salvation.  How can the one who needs to be saved save himself?  If I’m drowning in the middle of the ocean, someone needs to pull me out.  If I’m dangling off the edge of a cliff by my fingertips, I need someone to pull me up.  If I’m stranded in the middle of the desert, I need someone to come and get me.

No, I can’t save myself.  The sun, moon, and stars can’t save me.  Wood carvings and gold statues can’t save me.  Big insurance policies, big guns, big piles of money—none of that can save me.  Buddha can’t save me.  Shiva and Vishnu can’t save me.  Allah can’t save me.  You can’t save me.  Lebron James can’t save me.  Oprah definitely can’t save me.  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”  There is only one place to find salvation.  In Christ Alone.

Salvation is In Christ Alone because no one is like Jesus Christ.  God wants you to be perfect and sin-free.  He wants you to be holy just like he is.  We aren’t.  But Jesus is.  Jesus is holy, perfect, and righteous from beginning to end.  Not one sin ever.  He lived a perfect life for you.

God also states that if you aren’t holy and perfect, then you need to pay for your sins.  Not with money.  You can’t throw it on your credit card.  You can’t make up for it in an imaginary place called purgatory.  The price to pay for your sin is death and hell.  But Christ paid that price for me.  You really can’t say it much clearer or better than the second and third stanzas of the hymn In Christ Alone:

1.  In Christ alone, who took on flesh, fullness of God in helpless Babe.

This gift of love and righteousness,

scorned by the ones He came to save.

‘Til on the cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.

For every sin on Him was laid; here in the death of Christ I live.

2.  There in the ground His body lay.  Light of the world by darkness slain;

Then bursting forth in glorious day, up from the grave he rose again!

And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;

for I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ.

Last week I shared with some of you in Bible study very sad news.  The Presbyterian Church of the USA, a branch of Presbyterianism, rejected this hymn, In Christ Alone, for their new hymnal.  They thought it was too harsh to talk about “the wrath of God” over sin.

How sad.  This is the very reason that we need Christ.  Our sins are so great that we sinful people cannot stand before our almighty, holy God.  But when Jesus died on the cross, the wrath of God was satisfied.  Every sin on him was laid.  I was bought with the precious blood of Christ.

There is no one else who has ever been perfect.  There is no one else who could bear the wrath of God.  Thee is no one else would could die one death for the sins of all.  There is no other god that has come to the help of his people.  There is no other god that has fully forgiven sins.  There is no other god who gives heaven for free.  Salvation is truly In Christ Alone.

What a difference that makes in my life!  The hymn describes this difference so well in stanza one:

 In Christ alone my hope is found. 

He is my light, my strength, my song;

this cornerstone, this solid ground,

firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace,

when fears are stilled, when strivings cease.

My Comforter, my all in all, here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ Alone, I now have hope.  I have strength.  I have a solid ground to stand on.  My fears are stilled.  I have peace.  I can handle every situation, I can tackle every problem, I can endure every trial—In Christ Alone.  Best of all, stanza four describes this change in my life:

No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me;

from life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.

No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand;

‘Til he returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I stand.

I don’t have any fears in this life.  I don’t have any fear of death.  Jesus commands my destiny.  I know I’m saved.  I know I’m going to heaven.  No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from his hand.  Salvation is found in no one else but In Christ Alone, so here in the power of Christ I stand.

Conclusion

As we are about to begin our sixth school year at Christ the King, I could hardly think of a better theme than the one Mr. Loberger picked for this year.  In Christ Alone truly sums up everything for our church and our school.

How is it possible that we could go from 18 three and four-year-olds in a dumpy warehouse to a full school from age one to 8th grade with about 240 students this fall—in only five years?  How is that possible?  In Christ Alone.

Where is our staff of now about 25 teachers going to find the strength for a new school year?  How will they be able to handle all the new problems and challenges?  How will they put up with all of those horribly difficult, amazingly wonderful students for another 170 school days?  Where will they find energy to make great lesson plans, to correct endless papers, to discipline, and instruct students?  How will they do it?  In Christ Alone.

Where will our students find the strength to get up in the morning?  How will they survive over 1,100 hours of school (200 hours more than the public schools)?  How will students find the energy and the respect and the motivation to follow rules and to do homework?  In Christ Alone.

Where will parents find the strength to support their children through another year of school?  Where will they find the patience to deal with other parents and the love to respectfully work hand in hand with teachers?  In Christ Alone.

Where will our congregation find the strength to support a school of staff and students bigger than ever before?  How will our church meet those challenges?  How will we find the motivation to share Jesus with new students and families that don’t yet know him?  How will we find the desire to support with time, talents, and treasures the important work of Christian education?  In Christ Alone.

There is no bit of truth, no piece of information in all the world more important than this one Bible verse, our theme for this coming school year:  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” 

That one bit of information changes everything.  It changes what our church is focused on.  It changes how our school operates and teaches.  It changes how we live our daily lives.  It changes where I’m going to be eternally.

So God be with our teachers and students this coming year.  God be with our church as we reach out to new people.  God be with us all now and forever as he grants us each the power to live, to serve, to stand In Christ Alone.

AMEN

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About Pastor Phil Huebner

Pastor. Missionary. Principal. Husband. Father. Serving in love as each. http://www.ctkpalmcoast.com

Posted on August 23, 2013, in Church, Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I just read this to my fellow Soldiers here at work, very moving and very true. Thank you for the inspiration and the great read. We all liked it.

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