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The incorruptible crown

1 Corinthians 9:24-10:5

Pastor David Ernst

Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Feb 9, 2020 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

At this time, we will remember the themes of the Reformation of the 16th century.

Only the Scriptures. The Holy Scriptures are our only source of doctrine.

Only by faith. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, apart from good works.

And the focus of our meditation now, alone by grace.

Grace comes from the same root of the word, free. What do you mean, without cost, without price, for us. Jesus Christ did everything for us. He fulfilled the law in our places, suffered the wrath of God in our places, died on the cross in our places. Now we have the promise of the same resurrection of Jesus Christ, not by our own merits, but by the love and mercy of God. Jesus paid the price of our salvation in his own blood.

However, in our epistle, St. Paul speaks of a prize, a competition and self-discipline.

“Do you not know that those who run in the stadium, everyone really runs, but only one takes the prize? Run in such a way that you get it. And everyone who struggles abstains from everything; and they, to the truth, to receive a corruptible crown; but we, an incorruptible. So, I run this way, I don't eat like this; in this way I fight, not like someone who hits the air, but I hold my body, and put it into servitude; lest I, having preached to others, myself come to be reproved. ”

Only one takes the prize, but salvation in Christ is for all, it is true. In our gospel (Matthew 20: 1-16), the owner of a vineyard had a great harvest that needs to be harvested in a short time. Then, the owner of the vineyard got workers all day from the first hour to the last. At the end of the day all the workers received the same balance, the last as the first.

"And upon receiving it, they murmured against the father of the family, saying: These last have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, that we have carried the burden and the heat of the day. But he responding, said to one of them : Friend, I do not grieve you; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and leave; but I want to give this last one as well as you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I want with mine? Or Is your eye bad because I am good? ”

But, look at the following words. "Thus, the first will be last, and the last, first: Because many are called, but few chosen."

The crown of eternal life is for everyone, but any runner or any fighter can fall and lose the prize. Paul explains, “But I do not want, brothers, that you ignore that our parents were all under the cloud, and they all passed through the sea; and all in Moses were baptized in the cloud and in the sea; and they all ate the same spiritual food; and everyone drank the same spiritual drink; because they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. But God did not like many of them; therefore they were prostrated in the desert. ”

Paul speaks of the story of Exodus, the liberation of the Israel people from slavery in Egypt. Through Moses, God sent the 10 plagues against the Egyptians, saved the Israelites from the last plague of the firstborn's death, and divided the waters of the Red Sea. Then, by the power and grace of God, the Israelites were free. On the other side of the sea was slavery, on this side, freedom. But, the Israelites have not yet achieved their homeland, the Promised Land. They remained in the desert for 40 years until their arrival in the Holy Land.

In the desert there is almost no water, no food. Then, the people murmured against Moses and said, Why do we leave Egypt to die in this desert? But, God in their mercy provided them with water from a rock and bread from heaven. But, for many of them, this was not enough and they did not trust God. Therefore, they died in the desert until they reached the Promised Land.

Now, like the church, we are the people of God. We have passed the waters of baptism from the slavery of sin and the devil to spiritual freedom. But, still, we have not achieved our Promised Land, eternal life in heaven with Jesus Christ. We have our trip in the desert. And God has given us the spiritual food and drink for our journey at the sacrament.

We should not murmur against God's justice, like the Israelites or the workers in the parable. Our human nature is to think that we have been believers since childhood and in our minds, examples of the Christian life, we deserve more from the hands of God than others. For all they receive the same payment, all receive the same prize that nobody deserves.

We must avoid envy and comparisons and run the run and fight the battle as there are no others. The athlete who wins the competition is he who set his eyes on the prize. At that time, the prize in the stadium was a crown of tree leaves. Drying leaves. Our awards are the incorruptible crown, eternal life.

God is walking with us on our trip. He is by our side. But, we should not leave God's side on the path to eternal life. We have spiritual freedom in baptism and spiritual food and drink at the sacrament. In them, we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.

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