Series A, Second Sunday in Advent 

TEXT: Matthew 3:1-12, "Walking the Walk His Way" 

We are called to honest repentance, actions of repentance and trust in Christ's gracious rule in our daily living. 

  1. EXAMINE THE HONESTY OF OUR RESPONSE TO GOD'S CALL TO REPENT. 
    A. Already did that," as if once is enough; now we no longer need to repent. 

        1. As Christians, the more we grow in our understanding of God and His holiness, the more we become acutely aware of our own incomparable short-comings. 
            a. This drives us to the grace of God in Christ. 
            b. It drives us to daily repentance in the light of that grace. 
            c. Paul reflects this repentance in Rom. 7: "O, wretched man that I am ...I thank God through Jesus Christ who give the victory!" 
        
        2. It is a truly false notion and grave danger to think that our salvation will not all the more bring us to repentance and godly living as it's response! 

    B. "I haven't done anything bad enough to require confession...I have a few flaws, but hey, doesn't everybody?" 

        1. This viewpoint refuses to recognize the reality of sin. 
            a. Sin is what we are, not merely what we do or fail to do. 
            b. Any sin is an incredible affront to the holiness of God. 

        2. Those who say such thing suffer under the misconception that God is comparing us to others and He isn't! 
            a. God is not looking to cast blessings on the best of the worst! 
            b. He is looking for people who know they have no hope at all except in His Son, Jesus. 

    C. "My parents or grandparents were outstanding Christians...Surely that counts for something." 

        1. This was the game the Sadducees & Pharisees were playing with John. 
            a. Salvation is not hereditary! 
            b. A name listed on the church rolls does not impress God. 
            c. Having been confirmed at age 13 will not do the job! 

        2. Those who make such claims are putting the responsibility for faith on someone else and that will not work! 

    D. Here is Reality: God's Law and Spirit reveal that we are nothing but desperate sinners. 

        1. We are full of ignorance of both God and His will for our lives. 

        2. We daily sin...How does our sin make us feel?...How does it make God feel? 

        3. Luther: Daily drown the Old Adam and bring forth the New Adam.
  2. NOW LET'S EVALUATE OUR RESPONSE TO GOD'S CALL TO WALK DIFFERENTLY. 

    A. Do we just want to give the appearance of repentance to God and others? 

        1. Put on a dour face. 
            a. Look sad all the time so others will see our piety? 
            b. Go on a diet and call it fasting so our actions will be noticed? 
            c. Engage in constant "put-downs" of ourselves so that all will know our godly intent. 

        2. False notion: If we look repentant, then we must be repentant. 

    B. Do we turn to evaluating our lives on the basis of our earthly blessings?

        1. If we have all the "goodies" of life, then God must favor us! 
            a. The proof of my status with God must be my income, my power, my pleasure. 
            b. "You don't think God approves of me, look at my lifestyle! 

        2. This is a fine idolatry...Remember even the lost prosper in this life! 

    C. Do we think God approves of us because of our good works? 

        1. After all, I've overcome a bad habit or two, given to charity, helped a neighbor. 

        2. See: I've earned God's blessing...What an affront to the cross of Christ! 

    D. God's Law and Spirit exposes our deceptive tactics and pious fraud. 

        1. The Law shows us in our reality...far from what God demands. 

        2. The Spirit works through the Law to seek a way to be in fellowship with God. 
  3. GOD CALLS US TO RESPOND TO HIM WITH TRUST. 

    A. God comes us in our need. 

         1. The whole point of Christmas is God coming to lost mankind. 
            a. This is not just a celebration of presents and religious Christmas cards...This is about God on a rescue mission! 
            b. ILLUS: Scott O'Grady...lost without the Marine helicopter crew....It was an extraction mission that O'Grady could not do on his own. 

        2. This is not a "Go find God" mission...This is God in our flesh to fight our battle with sin. 

    B. In our baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit...God works the repentance the faith in us...It is a gift! 

        1. The full measure of salvation is ours at our Baptism...God's action toward us. 
            a. Faith is a gift at any age. (Rom. 5:15-17) 
            b. If the Spirit is present, then there is salvation. (Acts 2:38-39) 
            c. Baptism cleanses us from our sin. (Acts 22:12-16) 

        2. This purifying power of God has End Times implications! 
            a. Who we are in Christ is the only question that matters when the world comes to an end. 
            b. Eternal destiny is THE issue! 

    C. To know God's absolution in Christ and to live a repentant life is to walk in His way. 

        1. A repentant life is a life of Christian change empowered by the Holy Spirit. 
            a. A life of repentance refuses to continue to live by sin's rules. 
            b. Impenitence raises mountains of obstruction...repentance opens the way for the Lord to change us. 

        2. As a result of God's gift of repentance and faith, our new nature cannot help but do the things of God. (Gal. 5:19-21) 
            a. It is worship, the study of God's Word, partaking in the Lord's Supper through which God continues the process of changing us into His Son's image. 
            b. If you have felt that your faith was really just a concept rather than a way of life and living, then you need to follow the Spirit's leading and become more connected with God's enabling power of Word and the Sacraments!

     Conversations With God, by Bob Miller: People: God, why do some of your preachers feel the need to scream and shout? I can hear just fine." God: "Prove it!" May God grant us the power to respond to His life-giving grace with lives reflecting repentance.

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