Summary: There are many great dangers to our faith! But ultimately the response to all of these is the TRUTH of God's Word.
What is the greatest danger to your faith? Please don’t let that question slip quickly from your mind. Consider it carefully. What is the greatest danger to your faith? As we take a moment to reflect on that question I want you to think back to the three Scripture readings for today. Did you notice one of the things they had in common? In Genesis 6:1-8 we heard about the dangers that immorality and the wickedness of the world posed to the faith of believers before the Flood. That is certainly still a danger to our faith. Every day we face the allure of sin through the internet, movies, television and the ever increasing immorality around us. Or doesn’t that happen in Wood Lake since life here is pure and unsoiled by sin? And consider the message in our second Scripture lesson from Romans 9:30-10:4. The Apostle Paul reminded us of the unbelief of the Israelites who substituted their own “religion” for what God had revealed to them. Generations of Jews appeared to be zealous for God and religious people. They may have seemed to follow God’s commandments in their lives. But they tried to make themselves right with God in their way instead of his way. Once again that too is certainly a great danger to our faith as well. Because the pride in our sinful nature we are frequently tempted to think that our good lives and our religious behavior make us righteousness in God’s sight. And also recall the Gospel Lesson for today. In Luke 19:41-48 we again heard about the unbelief of the Jews and how they substituted their own “way of salvation” for God’s plan of salvation. And finally in our Gospel Lesson we heard about Jesus clearing out the Temple. Many of those merchants had let greed override their devotion to God. Yet another danger to our faith that can be added to the list!
So with all of these spiritual “landmines” around us and within us what should we do? First of all, we see that there isn’t just one “greatest danger” to our faith. There are many great dangers to our faith! But ultimately the response to all of these temptations and dangers to our faith is found in the Means of Grace—the Word and Sacraments. God promises us that nothing can separate us from his love. Jesus said that we are protected by “his hands” and his “father’s hands.” And yet we are told to remain faithful to the truth of God’s Word where those promises and God’s power to preserve us are found. Regarding the Scriptures then we make it our goal in life to “hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them.”
We find an example of this kind of Christian life in the Scripture upon which we will meditate during our sermon together today. The disciple whom Jesus loved describes it for us in his Third Letter. Listen as I read verses 1-8 of 3 John. (Read text.) A follower of Christ walks in the truth of God’s Word each day. Additionally, John tells us that Christians show their faithfulness to the truth as they work together with fellow Christians for the truth. Here we find the best defense against all the great dangers to our faith. Let’s consider both of those thoughts under the simple encouragement that John gives us as he says to each of us: