"Christ's Resurrection Makes Everything New"#87-49
Presented on The Lutheran Hour on August 2, 2020
By Dr. Oswald Hoffmann, Guest Speaker
Copyright 2020 Lutheran Hour Ministries
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Text: Philippians 3:7-11
Nobody expected Jesus Christ to rise from the dead, but He did. It is the surprise of Easter. Nobody expects that Jesus Christ can renew the lives of people today, but He does to the great surprise of everybody. It surprises me. And I imagine it surprises you. It is the surprise of the Easter hymn written by Martin Luther in 1524:
"Christ Jesus lay in death, strong bands
For our offenses given;
But now at God's right hand, He stands
And brings us life from heaven;
Therefore, let us joyful be
And sing to God, right thankfully
Loud songs of hallelujah.
So let us keep the festival
Whereto the Lord invites us;
Christ is Himself the joy of all
The Sun that warms and lights us.
By His grace, He does impart
Eternal sunshine to the heart;
The night of sin is ended. Hallelujah."
It's the kind of thing Saint Paul was always telling people after he came to know Jesus Christ, who was crucified, and then revived again from the dead. That meeting with Jesus Christ alive and well changed this man's whole life, his whole attitude, his whole way of looking at things.
"All those things," he said "that I might count as profit. I now reckon as loss for Christ's sake. Not only those things, I reckon everything as complete loss for the sake of what is so much more valuable, the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord. For His sake, I have thrown everything away. I consider it all as mere garbage so that I might gain Christ and be completely united with Him. No longer do I have a righteousness of my own, the kind to be gained by obeying the Law. I now have the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ. The righteousness that comes from God and is based on faith. All I want is to know Christ and feel the power of His resurrection, to share in His sufferings and become like Him in His death. In the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life."
It's a magnificent expectation. If it is true, that Christ has risen from the dead, the expectation of being raised from death to life, surprising as it may be, it's completely in order. If it happened to Christ, it can happen to anyone who knows Christ, and goes with Him. It can happen to you, as it can happen to me.
Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead. The grave could not hold Him. Pilot placed a seal on His tomb and posted a guard. The seal was broken; the angel rolled away the stone; the guards fled in fear. Except for the linen grave cloths and the folded head covering, all lying there where the body had been, the grave was empty.
Angels proclaimed the resurrection and asked the followers of Christ why they look for the living among the dead. That first Easter day, one astonishing piece of news followed the other. Jesus Christ who had died on the cross was really alive!
They saw Him; they talked with him; they ate with Him; they knew Him. It wasn't anybody else. It wasn't a dream. The miracle of the ages had taken place, and everything was changed.
Christ Jesus has risen from the dead, my friend, and everything is different. It changes everything: the whole course of human events, the whole meaning of history, the whole present, and the whole future. Christ has risen, and that changes everything.
It is useless now to look for Christ in a tomb somewhere. I know that runs counter to everything in human experience. In Jesus Christ there's a new way of looking at things. Jesus Christ was crucified for the sins of the world, and there's forgiveness for all in Jesus Christ—for all men, and for everything they have done to thwart the will of God. In the world, that changes everything.
Jesus Christ was crucified, and everything is new because Jesus Christ gave Himself in all obedience for the life of the world. God raised Him from the dead by His own glory and made Him Lord of everything. Now everything is different. Things become things again to be mastered rather than to master. Things get their proper place; things you can take or leave when you have Jesus Christ; that's different already. Everything takes second place to Him. And one thing becomes really valuable: the knowledge of Christ Jesus, who is Lord.
Saint Paul said, "The things that I might count as profit, I now reckon as loss for Christ's sake. Not only those things, I reckon everything as complete loss for the sake of what is so much more valuable: knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord." That's personal. The man knew something, personally, and he had it in his personal possession. It was the knowledge of Jesus Christ, his Lord.
Jesus Christ, crucified and risen again from the dead is not just Lord—He is your Lord. He is my Lord. He is our Lord. Jesus Christ counts. Everything else is secondary. Power, prestige, and position are secondary. No man can be satisfied with any one of them. Not in the face of what is still to come. What is still to come is death, and that changes everything. It is certain that we brought nothing into this world, and that we shall carry nothing out. That goes for all of our money. And it goes for all of our piety as well.
All the religious and all the secular pieties upon which people depend so much are not going to count in the day of death. In that day only Jesus Christ counts, and faith in Him, which is the deciding thing in the sight of God. God wants people to believe in Him.
Here was a man who believed. He said, "For the sake of Christ, I have thrown everything away. I consider it all as mere garbage so that I might gain Christ and be completely united with Him in faith. No longer do I have a righteousness of my own, the kind to be gained by obeying the Law. I now have the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ. The righteousness that comes from God and is based on faith."
Talk about a program! That's it! It is the program of faith. Nothing takes the place of faith. Only faith will do. It is faith in Jesus Christ, and that is faith in God. When I talk about faith in Christ, I'm not trying to sell anybody a bill of goods. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. Anybody can believe in Him. By faith in Christ, men and women, boys and girls acquire righteousness from God Himself. It is not the righteousness of being good, the righteousness of religious piety, the righteousness of going through a certain set of motions and getting the reputation of being religious. It is none of that. Faith is the thing. No longer do I have a righteousness of my own, the kind to be gained by obeying the Law, even when it is the Law of God. I now have the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ: the righteousness that comes from God that is based on faith.
Now that changes everything. It makes a lot of things that are happening in the church today seem very unimportant. It makes a lot of things that are happening in the world today seem very stupid. It is one of the reasons I like almost any kind of music in the church as long as it is the music of faith. I can take candles, bells, pictures, statuary, windows, banners, liturgies, vestments, and everything that goes with them. Or I can forget about the whole business. As long as there is faith in the church, I can take all the shenanigans going on in the church, and all the disputes about organization and reorganization—even the divisiveness of people who are governed more by their hostilities than by their gentleness—as long as the Gospel of Christ is being preached, and there are people who have faith in Him. I can take change because things do change, and people change. I'm interested in what Saint Paul was talking about, a knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord. "For His sake, I have thrown everything away," he said. "I consider it all as mere garbage so that I might gain Christ and be completely united with Him." That's the important thing—not to play the big role on my own as if I were something—but to accept the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is based on faith in the Son of God.
The resurrection of Christ affects the way in which we see everything and hear everything. The resurrection of Christ affects the way in which you see everything and hear everything about you. That is when you know Him and have Him as your Lord. It is what Saint Paul is trying to get across to you. This is what happened to him, and it can happen to you.
This man was a stickler for the Law of God. He was not an easy-going libertarian. He came from the right people. He observed the proper practices. He ate the right foods. He was a graduate of the right university. He had right character and right zeal. He could call himself "blameless without fault," as far as the commands of the Law are concerned. Being right, he went far wrong. He held the coats of those who stoned a young man named Stephen. He arrested men and women who followed Christ. Later on, he called himself an imposter, a fraud, and enemy of God. He was talking of course about that man who had been righteous because he tried to obey the Law.
All of that changed when he came to know the risen Christ, the Savior of the world. I guess almost everybody has heard the story of Saul by this time, how he was on the way to Damascus with letters of arrests for Christians in that city, and then Christ, the risen Christ, met Saul on that road, and he became Paul. Christ is not an imposter. Christ is not dead. He has risen from the dead, and He is Lord. He was Paul's Lord, and he is my Lord. I don't have a corner on Him, nor does anybody else. He is Lord of all. He is your Lord. Know Him now, and be changed.
You are not right with God, my friend, by the accident of your physical birth, the color of your skin. Whether it's white or black or brown does not make you acceptable to God. Your nationality gives you no special in with God. Acceptability with God does not consist of sitting with the right people in church. It doesn't depend upon whether your church is Gothic or modern in style. Nor are you going to get by with God by standing on your dignity, boasting of the fact that you never go to church. That won't count either. Only faith counts—faith in God that He has sent Jesus Christ, and that He raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Righteousness comes from God, through that faith in Christ. It is the only righteousness that really counts. It is righteousness, as Martin Luther used to say, "by faith alone." It makes all the difference in the world. All of those things that I might count as profit, I now reckon as loss for the sake of Christ. I count everything as complete loss for the sake of what is so much more valuable: the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord. For His sake, I have thrown everything away. I consider it all as mere garbage—that I might gain Christ, and be completely united with Him. It is not my own righteousness. It is His. And I have it by faith in Christ. All I want to know is Christ and to experience the power of His resurrection, to share in His sufferings, and become like Him in His death, in the hope, the glorious hope, that I myself will be raised from death to life.
Only one righteous, holy, perfect life in this earth of ours, and that was His. It's not my life. It's not your life. It is not Paul's life. That righteous life of Jesus Christ, I take for myself, as Paul did. And as you can do, too. I take it by faith. He is mine by faith. The power of the resurrection is mine by faith. It is like going down with Him into His death only to be raised with Him to life. It is the hope that God Himself makes good, by faith in Christ. I myself will be raised from death to life. God makes it good.
Now that's Easter! That's what it's all about. It's not just a festival to remember the springtime, but to celebrate the coming to life again of Jesus Christ from the dead. It is part of our history. Death could not hold the Son of God and the power of His resurrection. Death can no longer hold the sons and daughters of God who come to be members of His family, by faith in Him.
You can claim that power for your own, my friend. You can claim the righteousness of Christ as your own. You can get a whole own new bearing on life, through faith in Christ. You know where you're at in Christ, and you know where you're going in Christ. With faith in Christ, you have everything. "All I want," said Saint Paul, "is to know Christ, and experience the power of His resurrection, to share in His sufferings, and become like Him in His death, in the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life." Nobody talks that way unless he knows Jesus Christ and has Him as his Lord.
Jesus Christ is not dead. He's alive. He knows you. And He can be known by you. To know Christ is to experience His forgiveness and to have the new life He gives. You experienced the power of His resurrection, and live in the hope of being raised as He was, from death to life.
There's a certain power in the righteousness that comes from trying to be good all on your own. People will respect you, at least some of them will. You can have the satisfaction of at least contributing something to the world, instead of tearing it down. Whatever people may think, the rewards of goodness are greater than the rewards of badness. But that kind of righteousness is nothing in comparison with the righteousness of God, which comes through faith in Jesus Christ. There is power: the power of Christ's resurrection that destroys death. It is the dynamite that opens graves. It is the dynamic force, giving people a new life right here, now. It gives them new attitudes, new hope, new everything. And it's for you in Christ.
In your place, my friend, Jesus Christ was crucified. As your Savior He rose from the dead. He's for you. Know Him and experienced the power of His resurrection. In Christ, resurrection from the dead has come for you. Dying with Him you are forgiven, and rising with Him from death to life you experience in your own mortal body, the power of His resurrection. He's alive and He's yours! Come alive, my friend, in the valuable knowledge of Christ Jesus your Lord. Amen.
Reflections for August 2, 2020
Title: Christ's Resurrection Makes Everything New
Michael Zeigler: Today, I get to visit with Mrs. Gaylene LaBore, who for many, many years worked with the Speaker that you just heard today on the broadcast, Dr. Oswald Hoffmann. Thank you for talking with us today, Gaylene.
Gaylene LaBore: Nice to do that.
Michael Zeigler: So Gaylene, you started working with Dr. Hoffmann in 1963, and he had been the speaker of The Lutheran Hour already for about eight years. He was working remotely in New York, at his office there, and he was recording sermons and shipping tapes back to St. Louis for production. And then he and his family moved to St. Louis in 1963, and that's when you began working with him as an administrative assistant. What was your early impression of Dr. Hoffmann?
Gaylene LaBore: He was very talented in many areas, including being a good and popular preacher. He was a hard worker, and he could get a lot done in a short time. He preached almost every weekend somewhere around the country. But when he got back, he would come right into the office and start dictating letters and Lutheran Hour sermons. And he expected to get them typed and out just as quickly as he dictated them. He never wrote out his sermons that he preached around the country. He would just take a little note card, and he might write one or two words on that. He could read through a script at night and record it all the next day, without any retakes. And the people that were recording those just couldn't believe it. They said usually we have to do a lot of retakes. But if he studied the script at night, he could do it. He didn't know the word "No." And he wanted to accept every possible invitation to preach or to speak at a rally, or whatever.
Michael Zeigler: What an incredible man. That's good. So he served with Lutheran Hour Ministries from 1955, and continued serving until just before he died in 2005, so almost 50 years of service. And during that time, I understand he traveled around the world. He met presidents and kings. He visited troops in Vietnam. He even attended the Vatican Council in Rome, and serve with Rev. Billy Graham. He led Bible translation projects, authored books, and spoke at thousands of events. Gaylene, if Dr. Hoffmann had a motto for his life, and you were to put this motto on a bumper sticker, what would it say?
Gaylene LaBore: He had a favorite Bible passage, which he always used when he signed books, letters, or important items for people. It was Galatians 2:20. "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." Now that passage was the emphasis for his life, for every sermon he preached. It would be a little bit long as a bumper sticker, but you might name it to "Live your life for Christ."
Michael Zeigler: Yeah, life in Christ. You know, someone showed me a family Bible at an event that I was preaching at. And this Bible had been signed by Dr. Hoffmann, and I looked, and there underneath his signature, just like you said, is Galatians 2:20.
Gaylene LaBore: He used that every time he signed something like that.
Michael Zeigler: Yeah, amazing. So Gaylene, you recently retired from 54 years of service with Lutheran Hour Ministries. You served even longer than Dr. Hoffmann for this great organization. I wonder what gave you the inspiration and the energy that you needed to continue serving for all those years?
Gaylene LaBore: Well, my husband and I have both been blessed with very good health and a lot of energy. And we both have enjoyed the work that we do, and so we just kept on working. I took some time off from my career and raised our children when they were young. And I worked part-time some of those years when I worked from home. So it's been a very enjoyable job, and a great privilege for me to serve the Lord with Dr. Hoffmann, as well as several other Speakers. I was Pastor Ken Klaus' assistant for three years, and then with several executive directors. And I actually worked with all of The Lutheran Hour Speakers that we've had except for Dr. Maier, who was the first one.
And you know age isn't always a calendar date; it's an attitude. And during the last year of his life, Dr. Hoffmann preached in eight states around the country, and traveling was becoming more difficult, and people would see him walking slowly. But when he got in the pulpit, the Holy Spirit took over, and his voice was strong like it always was. He was vibrant in the pulpit, and he was cordial and alert when visiting with the people. And he loved to visit with all the people. They didn't want him traveling alone at 91, so they sent me with him.
Michael Zeigler: I like how you say that, age isn't about a calendar, but an attitude. Very good. I was sharing with you earlier that I had received this letter from a long-time Lutheran Hour listener, a man named George in Illinois. And he had sent me a letter that his grandmother had received 70 years ago. And it was an announcement of the death of Dr. Walter A. Maier, the first Speaker of The Lutheran Hour, that you had mentioned. I pull this 70-year-old weathered letter out of an envelope, and I see how much this meant to George and his grandmother that he would send me this letter. And it helped me more deeply appreciate the legacy of this program—especially as we're looking forward to celebrating the 90th anniversary of the very first broadcast of The Lutheran Hour this coming October. So I wonder, is there a moment or an event that helped you more deeply appreciate the legacy of The Lutheran Hour?
Gaylene LaBore: Well, I know people save letters like these. I've seen them, too. When we did dictation at the beginning, everything was done on the typewriter, so if Dr. Hoffmann changed his mind and wanted to put a comment or something, you'd have to type the whole letter over. And he would say, "Oh, you don't have to do that, just send it." And I said, "I know people save these letters. I'm not sending out anything with a correction on it."
Michael Zeigler: Yeah. It truly is a message that has gone out into the world, and it's exciting to be a small part of it.
Gaylene LaBore: It's really been a wonderful opportunity for me. And it's been a blessing to work with all the people there. And I've just gotten to know so many great people from all over the country. And people love The Lutheran Hour, and I hope we can keep it going for a long time.
Michael Zeigler: Thank you for taking time to visit with me today, Gaylene. God bless you!
Gaylene LaBore: Thank you very much.
Music Selections for this program:
"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.
"O Living Bread from Heaven" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)