Sunday, September 03, 2023

Romans 11:33-36; The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost; September 3, 2023;

Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN;
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33, ESV)
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Last week we talked about God’s riches. They are of course not money. The text talks about God’s attributes. God is the richest person in the universe. He has no need for money. We primarily see his riches in his activity with us. Namely, that he gives freely from his riches. One of those ways is that he shows abundant mercy. God is rich in mercy. From Ephesians 2:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,” (Ephesians 2:4, ESV)
God gives us mercy when we don’t deserve any. Mostly he sent Jesus to be our savior, to die on the cross to give us the mercy of salvation through faith.

Today we are going to talk about another of God’s attributes, his wisdom. The scripture talks about God’s wisdom in 1 Corinthians 1:25:
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:25, ESV)
What Paul is saying here is that if God had foolishness (he doesn’t!), that foolishness would be greater than all the wisdom of people. In fact, God is the wisest person in the whole of creation. Everything he does is the wisest thing that could be done. We, at times, have a difficult time with God’s wisdom. It isn’t necessarily a lack of faith, but we sometimes disagree with God’s actions. For example, I think that my life would have been much better had my wife stayed with me. I disagree with God on that point. But I know what seems to me, his foolishness is greater (the greatest) than my wisdom. So, in faith I bow to his wisdom. I just don’t like it. I also know that he is right, and I am wrong.

But there is more to God’s wisdom than just the things he does and allows in our lives. In fact, right before Paul says,
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:25, ESV)
He says,
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:20–24, ESV)
Jesus is the wisdom of God. That is a very interesting thing. Jesus, the Son of God, made man, the Savior of all the world, is God’s Wisdom. Since God is the wisest person in creation, that means that when he sends Jesus, it was the wisest way to bring about our salvation. Let that put an end any talk about how God could have saved us any way he wanted. It was, in fact, the only way to save us. God knew, in his wisdom that is greater than all the world’s wisdom put together, that Jesus was the only way to accomplish what he desired, saving the world.

It seems like foolishness. In our wisdom we would have saved the world in some glorious looking way, with lightning bolts, and thunder. We would have used a person above everyone that no one could reject.

But God does it differently. He sent Jesus in humble form to serve people. Jesus wisely loves and heals and feeds people. He wisely goes specifically to the cross to bear the sins of the world, to exchange our sin with his righteousness. He wisely rises from his death to live again. That resurrection is all the proof the world should need to see God’s plan for the wisdom it is.

Think about the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. In hell the rich man begged God to send Lazarus to his brothers to save them. God replies,
He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ (Luke 16:31, ESV)
In his wisdom God uses a simple preacher’s voice to preach Christ crucified and risen. He uses his word, the account of Jesus life, death, and resurrection, to implant faith in the hearts of people. He uses water and words spoken over a baby, he uses bread and wine to combine with Jesus body and blood to bring about faith and strengthening of faith. The world doesn’t know this kind of wisdom, it calls it folly.

And sometimes it seems not enough to us as well. We are tempted to think we must add to it to make it more effective and more palatable. We think that those foolish notions just aren’t enough. Soundwaves in the ears, water on the head, and bread and wine running down throats is too simple to work on its own.

God in his wisdom created the church to proclaim his Word, Jesus. If we, as a church, are preaching God’s Word in its truth and purity; if we, as a church, are baptizing in the name of God; if we, as a church, are administering the Lord’s Supper as Jesus gave us instruction; then we are doing all that is required of us. That’s the wisdom of God and following the greatest wisdom in all creation is wise.

But there is more. God being God doesn’t conform to our idea of mathematics. God give everything in his salvation of the world. It is just like him. He is a gracious giving God. And then he gives more. For God one plus one does not equal two. In his mathematics one plus one is infinite. He gives everything and then he gives more.

He gives us the gift of his church. We know where to go to receive life and salvation. We know what time to be here. That is God’s grace in action. But there is more to the church than that. It is God’s gracious will for the church to give everything and still have more to give. What God does through the church, is to allow you to participate in his gracious giving. Having the opportunity to practice your faith. Individually in our vocations we serve our neighbors, the church allows us to do it collectively. We can show God’s great love for people through what the church does. A good example is Faith Lutheran in Silver Bay has a program called “Swaddling Clothes.” Their church supports babies by giving necessary items. Our Synod supports Mercy Work. Through LCMS World Relief and Human Care. They provided Disaster relief, Life Ministry, Veterans Ministry, Medical Teams to foreign shores.

James talks about this in his Epistle.
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:15–17, ESV)

He is saying that when faith is present, so are works. They show up everyday of our lives. By God’s grace the church has everything and more. We have the opportunity to serve our neighbors in love, to help with the things of this physical life; to comfort those who are suffering; to help those in need. All in the name of our savior Jesus.

That is God’s wisdom. Well, a small portion of it anyway. He gives of his riches, his mercy in Jesus. He gives from his wisdom. Next week we talk about God’s Knowledge.

The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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