Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Tomorrow at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine, October 7th, 2012: “Christ Tasted Your Death & Completed All Suffering”

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christians suffer. This statement seems so obvious as to seem just silly to recount, and yet why do we try so hard to deny it? Whole theologies are dedicated to denying it or repressing it; many preachers tell us that if we are strong enough in faith that we should be able to avoid it. But the truth is that the Scriptures teach it clearly. So what does God’s Word say about it? It is true that real answers are supplied, but there is more to the revelation of God’s Word than mere explanations. The more important revelation is what God has done about it. This indeed is the crucial part, especially in light of the fact that millions reject the faith merely because they assume that the existence of suffering somehow cancels the possibility of God’s existence. The skeptic likes to complain with the presupposition, “Since God has done nothing about suffering, then how can He exist?” This assumption reveals serious misunderstandings about Jesus and reminds us that the popular view of Jesus’ ministry was to provide a sublime moral example to us (therefore to believe that He is God’s solution to suffering is hardly ever considered). Jesus, however, was and is God’s answer to all suffering.
Besides receiving this vital teaching in God’s Holy Word, you will also receive the very body and blood of Jesus which completed and completes all suffering: it unites you to the One who absorbs your suffering so that your suffering must submit to its real limitation…it can go no further than Jesus your Savior…it cannot end with you and it cannot bury you, since it was buried with Christ. In the Sacrament the victory of the Risen Christ is yours confirming the completion of your suffering.
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow’s sermon:

Suffering: Not Exactly Our Favorite Subject!

 A.     There are two universal reasons for it:

 1.      Consequence of the Fall (Gen. 2:17 & 3:16-19).

Romans 8:22: “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”

 2.      Direct consequences of violation of God’s Law (Deut. 27-28 warned that disobedience would bring destruction or exile; Romans 13 teaches about the authorities which “bear the sword”).

 B.      But there are also reasons why Christians, those made righteous by Christ suffer:

 1.      Christians suffer because they are disciplined by God in order for their faith to be preserved and to grow (Hebrews 12).

2.      Christians suffer when they are persecuted for being witnesses for Christ (Acts 5:25-41).

3.      Christians suffers out of loving service to other people…St. Paul wrote in Colossians 1:24: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake…”and we “bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).”

4.      Christians suffer as they learn to rely on Christ and on Christ alone.

2nd Corinthians 12:9: “But [the LORD] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’”

5.      Christians suffer for no apparent reason at all sometimes (consider Job).

C.      But beyond all systematic analysis, there is just grief and weakness real people experience:

Lewis described grief in A Grief Observed: “For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral? But if a spiral, am I going up or down it? How often – will it be for always? – how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’? The same leg is cut off time after time. The first plunge of the knife into the flesh is felt again and again (67).”

And Garth Ludwig (of blessed memory) wrote in his personal journal on March 6, 1998): “When I did my exegetical work on the Hebrew word for sickness, the root word meant to be weak. How poignant that I would ever experience the real meaning of the word I was trying to research. No more descriptive a condition exists than being usurped by a weakness that allows little expression of energy, dependency upon others, difficulty in thinking, depression, frustration, and irritation. It is walking the line between life and death. It is to want so much – but to be denied almost everything…But here is strength in weakness as Paul was reminded by God – for herein comes the grace of God. Let me not forget the weakness that Christ submitted on to at the cross!” (Order Restored, 242)


Part I: We are led to back to Christ and what He freely entered into for you and for me! 
What follows is the most important part of the sermon…the part that gets to what Jesus did for our suffering!
Hope to see you God’s house tomorrow!
In Your Service & To Christ’s Glory,
Dr. Espinosa
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