Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Tomorrow Sunday, January 20th, 2013 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “The Manifestation of the Spirit” (1st Corinthians 12:7)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Scripture come right out and say it: “Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.” (Isaiah 45:15) But why? This might seem like an extraordinarily frustrating article of the faith. Why would God do that? Doesn’t He want to be seen? Doesn’t He want to be known? The questions themselves infer confusion and misunderstanding. Of course the Lord wants to be known, but the question is really about in what way? His way — the good and necessary way; the way for our own good — is that He makes Himself certainly knowable, but in a way in which He is hidden. We will explain in tomorrow’s proclamation and the sermon will climax in this truth shining a light on you, His child. One of the ways in which God hides Himself is in you!
Come to Church. Invite a friend. Receive His Word and Sacrament and be strengthened.
Don’t go along with the world’s posture. The world decides what it needs. It does not heed the Word of God.
The Word of God says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25) How ’bout that? Gathering for worship is God’s plan; God’s will. Let us respond in faith and thanksgiving even as we experience once again His service to us as He comes to serve with His Word and His Sacrament. He said, “do this in remembrance of me…” (1st Corinthians 11:24).
The Lord intends to bless you tomorrow morning and I rejoice that I get to serve you!
In Your Service and To Christ’s Glory,
Pastor Espinosa
p.s. in the children’s message, I will reveal four (4) ways in which God hid Himself and hides Himself…can you guess these ways?
Here is an excerpt from tomorrow’s sermon!

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. As you know “epiphany” is about God being manifest. We need for this to be the case, because if God did not reveal Himself then we would never know Him, nor would we ever be saved. This is why we have to be careful when we encounter the popular objection to believing to God: “Why should I believe in a God that I cannot see?” This objection along with many other objections is used to keep a safe distance from faith and from entering into a relationship with the Living God, especially when it is presupposed that such faith is unreasonable and without warrant.


Unfortunately, the answers that come back from Christians to those who state this objection are often inaccurate. How many Christians with good intentions will answer the objection, “Why should I believe in a God that I cannot see?” with something along the lines of, “You just need to believe.”? What is perpetuated here is the idea of “blind faith”. Now it’s easy to be confused about these matters. After-all, at first glance it may seem that the Bible itself supports such an idea. Consider for example Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Well there you have it: faith is the conviction of things not seen. Case closed. Christians must therefore believe in blind faith. Not so fast.


There is a biblical context and backdrop to these words. To put it simply: if God suddenly appeared in all of His glory – in front of you and me right here and right now – we would all be in a lot of trouble. As sinful human beings, we would be overwhelmed. No one can see the full glory of God and survive. Even to Moses, God said, “Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” (Exodus 33:23) The ancient church father Tertullian commented on this state of affairs: “It is not permitted us to contemplate the sun, in the full amount of [its] substance which is in the heavens, but we can only endure with our eyes a ray” (ANF3:609).It is in this respect that the Bible records God speaking these words in Exodus 33:20: “But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”


This is why we sometimes explain this situation in terms of God “hiding” Himself. He hides Himself not in the sense that He is undetectable, but in the sense that we do not and cannot see His full glory. This is indeed an important biblical teaching. Listen to the words of Isaiah the prophet: “Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.” (Isaiah 45:15)

The rest of the sermon gets into how the Lord REVEALS Himself and continues to do so among His Epiphany people!
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