Standing at the Cross with two Destinies

March 5, 2017 – 1st Sunday in Lent

by Pastor Pete Scheele


Read Romans 5:12 – 21

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On October 31st in 1517 Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses on the Wittenberg Castle Church door, which began the reformation of the church in Europe. This year is the 500th anniversary of the reformation and so from time to time I would like to introduce you to some of the men and women who were involved in the reformation along with Martin Luther.  (Show the Slide of Lazarus Spengler) Today I would like to share with you one of the good friends of Martin Luther, Lazarus Spengler. Lazarus Spengler was the 9th child of 21 born to Georg and Agnes Spengler. Lazarus Spengler became the town clerk of Nuremberg in 1507 and got to meet Martin Luther in 1518 when Martin Luther was traveling back to Wittenberg and they became good friends. In 1519 Spengler wrote and published his ardent support of Luther and was included as one of those that Pope Leo X would excommunicate along with Luther if they did not submit to the pope.  With the support of the Nuremberg town council, Spengler refused to submit to the pope and was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic church on January 3, 1521.

On April of 1521, Spengler was sent by the town of Nuremberg to be their delegate to the Diet of Worms.  Spengler and the Nuremburg town council continued to work of reforming the church in Nuremburg and in 1528 Spengler and other reformers convince the Elector of Saxony to stand up for Luther against the Roman Catholic Church.  In 1530 Spengler participated in the negotiation at the Diet of Augsburg where they presented to Charles V, the Roman Emperor, their confession of faith, which we call today the Augsburg Confession. Spengler was largely responsible for the design of the Luther rose, which Luther adopted at the time of the Diet of Augsburg.

Spengler like Luther expressed the voice of reform back to the Bible by writing hymns that express the words of the Bible so that the common people could learn what the Bible was proclaiming. Today I would like to use one of Spengler’s hymns, “All Mankind fell in Adam’s Fall,” (Hymn #562) to help us come to a better understanding of the two destinies that we have the opportunity to be involved in.

Let us now sing just the first verse of hymn #562, “All Mankind fell in Adam’s Fall.”

 

Grace and peace to you as you stand at the cross, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

In the Beginning, …  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them …  And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. (Gen. 1:1,27, 31)

In the beginning, God gave man the destiny to live with Him in a perfect world in His perfect love, but Adam and Eve were deceived into thinking that there was more to life than that and  (1) All mankind fell in Adam’s fall, One common sin infects us all; From one to all the curse descends, And over all God’s wrath impends.

From Genesis 3 and on throughout the Old Testament we see how the sin of one man has infected each and every one of us so that now we live in a new destiny.  A destiny of sin and death and the power of the devil working in our lives, this is one of the two destinies that we face as we stand at the Cross of Christ, today in our lives. That’s why the Apostle Paul tells us, Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. (Rom 5:12)

Now our problem is more than morality. It is not simply that we live out our years on this world and then we perish.  No, our nature in not to just go through the cycle of life and then there is no more of us, because that is not the nature of God our Creator.  We were created to have life in God and to live with Him for all eternity.  Death is the result of sin and where there is sin there is God’s wrath – His righteous opposition to our rebellion.   So, as we look at our world today we see the destiny that has been given to us by the #1 Adam.  A life filled with sin, death and the power of the devil over us, which leads to an eternal live without God’s love. But it is more than a journey from the cradle to the grave as Lazarus Spengler explains in verse 2 & 3 of “All Mankind fell in Adam’s Fall.”  Let us sing verses 2 & 3 of hymn #562, “All Mankind fell in Adam’s Fall.”

  • Through all our powers corruption creeps and them in dreadful bondage keeps; In guilt they draw the infant breath and reap its fruits of woe and death.
  • From hearts depraved, to evil prone, Flow thoughts and deeds of sin alone; God’s image lost, the darkened soul Seeks not nor finds it heavenly goal.

Sin is devastating. It is corruption ever on the move, creeping and enslaving us into a prison that no person can escape from.  Why King David confess with us, “Against You, Oh Lord, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You may be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Ps. 51:4 – 5) So we confess in our liturgy today, “I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto You all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended You and justly deserve Your temporal and eternal punishment.” (pg. 184 LSW) From our birth, we lack the true fear of God and don’t even trust in God’s love for us.  This is more than just a bad tendency that we have in our lives, it is our very nature. For out of our fallen nature bubbles out hatred, lies, adultery and all other kinds of toxic symptoms of our inherited sins. Yes, we sin in though, word and deeds because we are sinners and there is nothing that we can do about it because it is our natural destiny.

But God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (Jn 3:16) Because of God great love for us He sent His Only Son to change our destiny, His Love, His grace and His mercy.  We couldn’t change our destiny but God can by giving us a gift that we neither earned or deserve.  Lazarus Spengler understood that gift of God like the Apostle Paul did and wrote the 4th and 5th verses of “All Mankind fell in Adam’s Fall.” Let us sing verses 4 & 5 of hymn #562, “All Mankind fell in Adam’s Fall.”

(4) But Christ, the second Adam, came to bear our sin and woe and shame, to be our life, our light, our way, our only hope, our only stay.

(5) As by one man all mankind fell and, born is sin, was doomed to hell, So by one Man, who took our place, We all received the gift of grace.

We are all familiar with the 1st Adam’s destiny, not only from the scriptures but also from our own live in this world. That’s why the Apostle Paul reminds us of the cross that we stand by. He tells us, “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one-man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” (Rom 5: 15)

Yes, the 2nd Adam, Jesus Christ, brings us a 2nd destiny not like the first which gave us sin, death and power of the devil in our lives. The 2nd Adam, Jesus Christ gives us a free gift of righteousness, grace and a new life in God’s love.  Jesus Christ is the second Adam who came into this world perfect for us so that by His life He could accomplish what we cannot do in our sinful nature.  Jesus is different from the first Adam in that He held onto God’s Word and followed it perfectly so that by His righteousness He could purchase our lives out of sin, death and the power of the devil and give us forgiveness, Life and His eternal love.

Yes, there is a huge contrast between the two Adams and the two destinies that they have given to us. The first Adam gave to us an inheritance that we must live with because it has become our very nature. Christ has given to us a free gift that we could never earn but now can have through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The first Adams sin has given to us death as the result of His sins and our sins now and for all eternity. Christ righteousness has given to us as a free gift so that we can have life with God now and for all eternity. The first Adams disobedience has brought God’s wrath upon us.  Christ’s obedience has given us God’s love now and for all eternity. In the first Adam, there is condemnation aplenty. In Christ, there is no condemnation, for His blood cleanses us from all our sins and gives us His righteousness.

The Apostle Paul summarizes our two destinies by saying, “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 5:18 – 21)

Lazarus Spengler summarizes our new destiny with his 6th verse of the song “All Mankind fell in Adam’s Fall.” Let us sing verses 6 of hymn #562, “All Mankind fell in Adam’s Fall.”

(6) We thank you, Christ; new life is ours, New light, new hope, new strength, new powers: This grace our every way attend Until we reach our journey’s end.

As we stand at the Cross we can see the two destinies that we have in our lives and give thanks to god for coming down and changing our destiny by given us a free gift of righteousness, grace, life and love in God’s hands now and for all eternity.  Amen.

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