Sermons

Summary: No one deserves or earns salvation. It is all about God and His grace. Jesus did everything right so we could be made right. In spite of our sins, he continues to reach out to us. He continually promises to heal and help those who come to him.

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On the museum wall of the concentration camp at Dachau is a large and moving photograph of a mother and her little girl standing in line for the gas chamber. The child, who is walking in front of her mother, does not know where she's going. The mother, following behind, looks knowingly but is helpless to stop the tragedy.

In her helplessness, she performs the only act of love left to her. She places her hands over the child's eyes so she will at least not see the horror to come. When people come to the museum, most don't whisk by this photo hurriedly. Instead, they pause and almost feel the pain. Deep inside, they say to themselves, "O God, don't let that be all there is."

Hopelessness and helplessness are all that remain in the world today. It’s fitting that we remember this today, because 15 years ago today the world realized if only for a short time that it is full of hopelessness and helplessness. Fifteen years ago today the world witnessed the most horrible terrorist attacks in history. Today is the 15th anniversary of 9/11. If there was ever an example of the hopelessness and helplessness that exists in the world today, it is the events that happened on September 11th, 2001.

God provided a way out by sending His Son to earth as a child so that He could one day save the sins of mankind through Christ's shed blood on the cross. The apostle Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." This statement is something all of us hear regularly. It is part of the comfortable words that we hear in the Holy Eucharist liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer.

Paul relates his past to highlight God’s mercy and forgiveness. No sin lies beyond the scope of God’s forgiveness. God forgave a persecutor like Paul and enabled him for ministry. This should give everyone hope. God’s forgiveness also provides the basis for people to forgive themselves. This does not mean that God will redeem everyone from the consequences of every evil -- but it does imply that none of us is in a position to make flat claims about whom God will or will not forgive.

Paul’s previous persecution of Christians made him the foremost sinner because he hindered others from coming to faith. At the same time, it allowed God to save Paul as an example of grace. If God could save Paul, he can save and change anyone and everyone.

No one expected that Saul of Tarsus-the earliest, greatest enemy of 1st century Christianity- would turn to Christ and become Christianity’s greatest missionary. Paul even referred to himself as the chief of sinners, but his salvation demonstrates three things:

1. God is merciful and long-suffering.

2. His grace can reach even his worst enemies.

3. The Good News of Christ has the power to change lives and hearts.

False teaching tells us none of these things. Paul’s conversion is an example of God’s saving grace, which is in contrast to the uselessness of false teachings. When Paul opposed Christ, he did not have faith. False teachers profess to follow Christ, but they still live sin-filled lives. Some may say that TV evangelists such as Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker were false teachers, and some may say that modern TV evangelists such as Benny Hinn are also false teachers. Only God knows for certain.


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