September 25, 2022       The Fifteenth Sunday After Easter

The Seventh Sunday of the Pentecost Season

Glorying in the Cross of Christ

            Imagine that you’re looking for the perfect present for the most special person in your life.   You walk into a large display room with shelves on every wall.   On those shelves are boxes of different sizes, shapes, and colors.  They’re all beautifully wrapped with gorgeous paper and preciously tied ribbons.   Except for one box, one that’s very different from all the rest.   It’s a smaller box with rather boring wrapping.   There’s nothing fancy about it at all.  

            So, which one are you most attracted to buying?   One of the beautiful boxes, right?   Of course you forgot to ask one important thing:   What’s inside those beautiful boxes.   It depends on which one you open.  One is empty.   Another contains nothing but sawdust.   A third box is full of different types of jewelry, along with gold, precious stones.   The next box is full of bundles of $100 bills.   And the last one has a piece of paper that, upon closer inspection, is a coupon.   It says that you’re entitled to go into any jewelry store anywhere in the world, at any time and have anything you want for FREE – as many times as you want for the rest of your life! 

            I know what box I’d take, and that you’d choose the same box too:   the one I mentioned last.   But….if you chose that box, on the back of the slip of paper inside it says this:   “Warning!  Be prepared to experience criticism, persecution, and possibly death from using this coupon.”

            Figuratively speaking, what I’ve tried to describe for you are the two basic religions of the world:  God’s religion…..and everything else called religion.   God’s Religion offers His free grace, provides His Spirit, is based on faith, and guarantees eternal life in heaven.   On the other hand, Man’s Religion (in all its variants…and there are many!) focuses on the law/rules, demands good works, satisfies the ego/sinful flesh, but guarantees eternal condemnation in hell.

            The security of a good relationship with God, as well as everlasting life that Man’s religion offers is dependant upon “the sawdust” of supposedly human-produced “righteous” good works.   However, who can truly be “good enough”…..and besides, nobody’s perfect.

            God’s religion guarantees a place in heaven too, but it’s dependant upon the solid, secure foundation of Christ’s perfect life lived for us, and His bloody death endured for us and our sins, along with His resurrection.   The Good News (Gospel) of God’s religion is that He, Himself, chose to do absolutely everything necessary to save us because we couldn’t follow His commandments perfectly, and in so doing save ourselves.  The Gospel is unique.  It stands alone.  But it is unappealing, unattractive, even repulsive to the “Old Adam” (the sinner inside each of us).   It doesn’t flatter our egos by telling us that we’re good enough to save ourselves, or at least that we can contribute to our salvation in some way.   Quite the opposite.  It doesn’t focus on you or me (other than that we are the object of God’s grace).  Instead it looks to Jesus as the SOLE Source and Provider of salvation.  He earned it all.  We just  get to enjoy the results of His efforts….but we get to enjoy it forever.

            With those thoughts in mind, I’d like to offer you this thought: “Last words matter.”   What follows are a few last lines of some famous books that you might know.   See if you can identify them:   “But Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries, for supper.”  – Tale of Peter Rabbit…….“And how happy I am, now that I have become a real boy!” – The Adventures of Pinocchio…..and “Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day” – Gone with the Wind.

            “Last words matter.”  And this morning, we finally arrive at the last words of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.   We started this journey through Galatians over three months ago, back in June.   Since then I’ve preached thirteen sermons on this book.   (If you haven’t been a part of all of them, you can watch the ones you’ve missed on our YouTube page).    And – in a way – they all culminate in these closing verses of Galatians….which actually serves as a somewhat “summary” of the entire book’s message.  

Today’s Scripture Lessons

            In this morning’s Sermon we’ll listen to Paul as he closes out Galatians, first stressing – again – that the Judaizers are teaching an alternative Gospel that destroys, rather than enhances, saving faith.  He points out that they are self-serving bullies, liars and hypocrites.  He then highlights the value of the true Gospel, built upon Christ’s cross (His life, death and resurrection) as the only true source of eternal security for us Christians.   He points out that it’s not circumcision that matters, but Spirit-given faith in Christ.   Last, he touches a bit on his sufferings (marks of the Lord) for Jesus as our Apostle affirms the Galatians are his brothers in faith and wishes them God’s grace.

            In our Old Testament Lesson we’ll listen to Isaiah gives us a “bird’s eye view” of the Promised Messiah’s sufferings and crucifixion, as God inspired him to write it in Isaiah 53, 700 plus years before the cross.

            Today’s Epistle Lesson is Philippians 3 sees Paul warning his readers about the “mutilators of the flesh” (the Judaizers) who placed their eternal confidence in their willingness to adhere to God’s OT covenant Law.  Paul says he thought the same way prior to his conversion, but now he knows the truth….that salvation comes, not through the obeying the Law, but through faith in Christ.   Nothing else matters.

            The Gospel Lesson is the story of Nicodemus visiting Jesus at night to learn more about Him.   In the course of their conversation Jesus compared the Bronze snake that Moses raised on a pole to Himself on the cross, saying that as Israel looked at the snake, trusting God’s promise to save them physically, so those who look in faith to Christ will be saved eternally from sin and guaranteed a place in heaven.

            Finally, through our Children’s Lesson we’ll use nails and a wooden cross, plus sheets of paper representing various sins to make the point that our sins were nailed to Jesus on the cross, and so they have all been forgiven and, through faith in Jesus as our Savior, we will go to heaven.

A Review of What We Learned Through Studying Galatians

A History of Galatia, and the First Churches There

            Galatia was a huge Roman province in the heart of Asia Minor (Turkey).  Its name is from the Galatians, a people who had originally migrated from what today is France (back the, it was called “Gaul”).  They settled in the northern part of Galatia around 280 B.C.  This central region of Asia Minor  offered those who lived there a number of commercial advantages (fertile land, situated along trade routes).   Over time, it attracted a rather sizeable Jewish community.

            Paul founded a number of congregations in the southern part of Galatia during his first  missionary journey in AD 48-49  (See Acts 13 and 14).   That was when he visited the cities of Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.  These churches in Galatia consisted mainly of Gentile converts to Christianity.  We also know he made two other visits to Galatia (on his second and third missionary journeys (Acts 16:6 and 18:23).

When and From Where Was Galatians Written?

            As far as when and from where this Epistle was written, there are a number of theories.  A non-inspired “superscription” for this letter was added to many Bibles years ago.  It says “Unto the Galatians written from Rome,” but it is erroneous.  Some commentators believe that Paul wrote to the Galatians from Ephesus during his third missionary journey.  If so, its date would be @ AD 57.  Others think that Paul wrote it around 51AD from the city of Corinth on is second mission trip.   But the most probable date and location are between AD 48-50 AD and from Antioch, Syria….right after he finished his first missionary journey. After completing his first mission trip, Paul stayed in Antioch for about a year, before participating in the Jerusalem Council whose story is recorded Acts 15.  

Why Did Paul Write Galatians?

            The reason Paul wrote Galatians is that false teachers – which we call “Judaizers” —  had infiltrated the congregation.  They both condemned Paul as an inauthentic apostle and suggested that his message (the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith in Christ alone and apart from our good works) was inadequate.   Instead they preached a hybrid gospel that talked about Christ, but emphasized man’s obedience to God’s Old Testament laws, particularly those pertaining to the ritual of circumcision, as the real reason anyone can be certain that he/she is saved eternally.

            If the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) had already occurred along with the writing of the “official” letter of the Church’s (Acts 15:23-29) on the matter of the Gentiles’ being burdened with the requirements of the Jewish Ceremonial Law (particularly circumcision), it wold be reasonable for us to assume that Paul would have cited this “authority” in his letter to the Galatians as the “final nail in the coffin”/proof of the legitimacy of the Gospel he brought….and the illegitimacy of the false-teaching “Judaizers'” hybrid gospel.  

            Finally, whether or not we know the exact date of this letter’s writing (or from where it was written) should not be a major problem for us.   It is widely considered to be not only one of Paul’s earliest written letters, but one of the first written books of the New Testament….maybe even the first one written.  More important, as with rest of Scripture, we want to recognize that each word of Galatians came to us, through Paul, by the inspiring work of God the Holy Spirit (II Peter 1:21).

            The author of Galatians is almost universally considered to be none other than Paul, himself (Galatians 1:1).   It was typically Paul’s practice to dictate his letters to an amanuensis (secretary), but with Galatians he appears to have penned the final verses of this letter himself (6:11).  

A Summary of this Letter

Galatians provides us with a strong affirmation of the truth that we are justified by God’s free grace alone,

through faith in Jesus Christ alone, and not by works/observing the law (2:16).  Paul begins the letter with a defense of his apostolic office and his message as an apostle (chapters 1 & 2).  The he presents an explanation of the doctrine of objective justification (classic for its conciseness), substantiating this gospel with references to the Old Testament Scriptures.  He emphatically declares that circumcision and obedience to the law were not required by God as additions to faith in order to obtain salvation (chs 3-4).  He concludes with practical instruction for Christian living in freedom under the gospel (chs 5 & 6).

            As to the reason why Paul wrote this Epistle…..Amost immediately after Paul’s first visit and subsequent departure, the young Christians there began to be pressured by “Judaizers” (semi-Christians/ semi-Jews) who descended upon the young congregation in Galatia.  These “Judaizers” maintained that Paul’s Gospel was inadequate;  that what he taught about salvation through faith in Christ alone had to be accompanied by instruction about the various Jewish Old Testament ceremonial and worship regulations.   Who was right, Paul or the “Judaizers”?  The Galatians’ salvation depended on having (and believing) the correct answer.  

            Some additional background information might be in order.   Not all the members of the Christian Church (particularly certain members of the mother church in Jerusalem) understood the freedom from the law that God’s people enjoy under the Gospel, especially as the freedom applied to Gentile Christians.   Remember how critical some had been of Peter’s contact with and support of the gentile Cornelius, in Caesarea (Acts 11:1-3).   Though many people who raised questions were satisfied by Peter’s subsequent explanation, a few remained unconvinced.   They found their way to the largely gentile congregation in Antioch (Syria) and caused trouble there by insisting that gentile converts HAD to come into the church by being “circumcised according to the custom taught by Moses” (Acts 15:1).  Salvation, they maintained, depended not only on believing what Jesus did, but doing what Moses taught.

            Shortly after Paul left Galatia to return to Antioch at the end of his first missionary journey, some of these false teachers infiltrated the Galatians congregations and began to undermine Paul’s work there.   On the surface they insisted that they had not come to undo Paul’s work, but merely to complete it.   Paul’s time among the Galatians had been so brief, they said, that he simply didn’t have the time to teach them the full gospel.   They taught that Jesus had not come to get us out from under the dominion of the law, but to give us a better reason for keeping it.   The Judaizers went on to suggest that Paul wasn’t actually a “class one” Apostle anyway;   so, they claimed, his ministry and message should not be regarded as having the same authority as — for example — Peter or John, two of the original apostles.   Perhaps, they suggested, Paul’s “limited” Gospel (which did not require circumcision,  etc.) was the understandable (but unacceptable) result of the “least of the apostles” wanting to make his message more acceptable to gentiles.  That’s why the Judaizers had accused Paul of wanting to “please men” (1:10).

            The Judaizers directed a three-pronged attack against Paul:  1)  They challenged his apostolic authority;  2)  They attacked his gospel, insinuating that it was not complete;  and  3) they implied that if salvation is by God’s grace alone, apart from works, then members of the church will have no compelling reason to live morally upright lives.

            This Epistle to the Galatians, built around the doctrine of justification through faith in Christ, and stressing the believer’s freedom from the law, is Paul’s answer to their attacks against him, but far worse than that — it is Paul’s refutation of the Judaizers’ false and damnable doctrine of salvation through faith plus works.

Luther’s View of Galatians

            Often referred to as “Luther’s book,”  Martin Luther strongly relied on this letter in his writings and arguments against the predominant, legalistic theology of the Roman Catholic Church in his day,   About Galatians, Luther wrote:  “He [Paul] boasts that his doctrine and office are from God alone, in order that he might silence the boast of the false apostles….He says it is not true, even if an angel were to preach differently, or he himself….and concludes that everyone must be justified without merit, without works, without law, through Christ alone…..He shows that the law brings sin and a curse rather than righteousness.  Righteousness is promised by God, fulfilled by Christ without the law, given to us — out of grace alone….He teaches the works of love that ought to follow faith”  (LW 35;384).

Finally, we offer this Outline of the Book

  1. Introduction (1:1-10)
  2. A Defense of Paul’s Apostleship (1:11-2:21)

III.  A defense of the Gospel of Salvation, by Grace

Alone, by Faith Alone (chs 3-4)

  1. An Explanation and Examples of Christian Freedom (chs 5-6:10)
  2. Conclusion (6:11-18)

The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version    Copyright 2019,    The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.   Used with permission Music and lyrics, as needed, are used with permission via #A712831

Pre-service prayer                                                                                                                 Pre-worship music

Let Us Praise The Lord


Welcome and Invitation to Worship

The Invocation

P:    We begin this worship service

C:   In the name of the Father,

P:    Who gave His Son into death for us

 and raised Him in glory on the third day;

C:  And of the Son,

P:    Who laid down His life only to take it up again on the third day;

C:   And of the Holy Spirit

P:    through Whom Christ was made alive,

Who has worked and sustains saving faith in our hearts,   

Who lives in us now through the Word,

and Who will one day give life to our mortal bodies.

C:   Amen.

Our Psalm for Today                                                                            Psalm 86:1-13


Pastor Turn Your ear,  O Lord.   Answer me, for I am poor and needy.

Congregation Guard my life,   +   for I am favored by You.     +   You are my God.    +   Save Your servant who trusts in You.

P  Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to You all day long.

C  Bring joy to the soul of Your servant,    +    for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

P  Indeed, You, Lord, are good and forgiving, and abounding in mercy to all who call to You.

C  Give ear to my prayer, O Lord.    +   Pay attention to the sound of my cries for mercy.    +    In the day of my distress I will call to You,   +     because You will answer me.

P  There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord.   There are no deeds like Your deeds.

C  All the nations You have made will come.   +    They will bow before You, O Lord;     +    And they will give glory to Your name.


P  Because You are great and do marvelous deeds;  You alone are God.

C  Teach me Your way, O Lord, +   and I will walk in Your truth.

P  Give me a wholehearted commitment to fear Your name.

C  I will thank You, O Lord my God, with all my heart;     +   and I will glorify Your name forever.



After which, the Congregation will be seated for


The Opening Hymn                                                                                     Hymn 387  “Drawn to the Cross”


1 Drawn to the cross, which you have blessed    With healing gifts for souls distressed,

To find in you my life, my rest,    Christ crucified, I come.


2 How well you know my griefs and fears,    Your grace abused, my misspent years;

So now to you with contrite tears,    Christ crucified, I come.


3 Wash me and take away each stain;    Let nothing of my sin remain.

For cleansing through your cross and pain,   Christ crucified, I come.


4 To pledge my labor willingly,    Which shall so sweet a service be

That angels well might envy me,   Christ crucified, I come.


After which, the Congregation will rise



Hear Us and Forgive Us, Lord

Pastor –    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.

Congregation        “And also with you.”

Pastor   God invites us to come into His presence and worship Him with humble and penitent hearts.  Therefore, let us now turn to Him, acknowledging our sinfulness and seeking His forgiveness.

Congregation    Holy and most merciful Father,    +    I confess that I am by nature sinful,   +   and that I have

 disobeyed You in my thoughts, words, and actions;   +  Each day I turn away from Your Will.   +    I have left undone those things which You have asked me to do,   +   and I have done those things which You tell me not to do.     +   I do not love You or my neighbor the way I should.   +   Because of these,   +   and all of my other sins,   +   too numerous for me to recall,   +    I acknowledge that I deserve nothing less than Your punishment   +    both now and for eternity.   +   But I am truly sorry for the evil that I have thought, spoken, and done,    +   and trusting in the perfect life,  +   and innocent death of my Savior, Jesus Christ, I pray:   +    Lord, forgive me all my sins,   +    restore to me the joy of Your salvation, +   and strengthen my weak faith through the promises of Your divine Word    +    that I may obtain Your promised grace.

Pastor          Find comfort for your souls, then, in these words of our Lord:   “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and

just,  and will purify us from all unrighteousness, because we have One Who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.   We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”   And now, upon this, your voluntary confession,  I, because of my office as a called servant of God’s Word,  announce the grace of God to all of you.  And, in the place of, and according to the command of my Lord Jesus Christ,  I forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   May the peace of God be with you.  Amen.



Our Response To God’s Forgiveness                                                                                          to the tune of

                                                                                                                   “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”


All praise, eternal Son, to Thee      For Thy forgiveness, full and free,

He, who by grace, this truth believes      The blessings of Christ’s love receives


Praise God the Father, God the Son     And God the Spirit,   Three in One,

As ’twas, is now, and so shall be     World without end,  eternally!     Amen.


after which the Congregation may be seated as

We Give Our Attention to God’s Word

The Old Testament Lesson                                                                                                                Isaiah 53


Who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?   

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot and like a root from dry ground.  He had no attractiveness and no majesty.  When we saw him, nothing about his appearance made us desire him.   3 He was despised and rejected by men,  a man who knew grief,  who was well acquainted with suffering.  Like someone whom people cannot bear to look at, he was despised,  and we thought nothing of him.

4 Surely he was taking up our weaknesses, and he was carrying our sufferings.   We thought it was because of God that he was stricken, smitten, and afflicted, 5 but it was because of our rebellion that he was pierced.  He was crushed for the guilt our sins deserved.  The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.   6 We all have gone astray like sheep.  Each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has charged all our guilt to him.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth.  Like a lamb he was led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent in front of its shearers, he did not open his mouth.  8 He was taken away without a fair trial and without justice, and of his generation, who even cared?  So, he was cut off from the land of the living.  He was struck because of the rebellion of my people. 9 They would have assigned him a grave with the wicked, but he was given a grave with the rich in his death, because he had done no violence,

and no deceit was in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and to allow him to suffer.   Because you made his life a guilt offering, he will see offspring.    He will prolong his days, and the Lord’s gracious plan will succeed in his hand. 11 After his soul experiences anguish, he will see the light of life.  He will provide satisfaction.  Through their knowledge of him, my just servant will justify the many, for he himself carried their guilt.  12 Therefore I will give him an allotment among the great, and with the strong he will share plunder, because he poured out his life to death, and he let himself be counted with rebellious sinners.   He himself carried the sin of many, and he intercedes for the rebels.

The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                              Philippians 3:1-11

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. It is no trouble for me to write the same things again to you, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Beware of the dogs. Beware of the evildoers. Beware of the mutilation.  3 For we are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who are confident in Christ Jesus, and who place no confidence in the flesh, 4 even though I have grounds for confidence also in the flesh. If anyone else thinks that he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 in regard to zeal, persecuting the church; in regard to the righteousness that is in the law, blameless.

7 But, whatever things were a profit for me, these things I have come to consider a loss because of Christ. 8 But even more than that, I consider everything to be a loss because of what is worth far more: knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For his sake, I have lost all things and consider them rubbish, so that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, which comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God by faith. 10 I do this so that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, 11 in the hope that in some way I may arrive at the resurrection from the dead.

After which, at the Pastor’s invitation, the Congregation will rise for

The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                          John 3:1-17

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these miraculous signs you are doing unless God is with him.”

3 Jesus replied, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: Unless someone is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”

5 Jesus answered, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God! 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh. Whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be surprised when I tell you that you must be born from above.    8 The wind blows where it pleases. You hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

9 “How can these things be?” asked Nicodemus.

10 “You are the teacher of Israel,” Jesus answered, “and you do not know these things? 11 Amen, Amen, I tell you: We speak what we know, and we testify about what we have seen. But you people do not accept our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven, except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.

14 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 The one who believes in him is not condemned, but the one who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.

The Apostles’ Creed                                                                                                  to the melody of “Ode to Joy”


I believe in God the Father,   Maker of the heav’ns and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, our Savior, God’s own Son, of human birth.

Virgin born, the Lord incarnate,    Whom the Spirit did conceive,

Suffered under Pontius Pilate;     Our salvation to achieve.


Crucified, was dead and buried,    Down to hell in victory;

From the dead He rose the third day;   Up to heav’n triumphantly.

There at God’s right hand He’s ruling,    By His will the world is led.

He will come to judge the nations,    Both the living and the dead.


I believe in God the Spirit,    In His Church, His chosen band.

They are joined in close communion,   Holy in His sight they stand.

I believe in sins forgiven;    That the dead will rise again;

I believe in life eternal.    Amen!   Amen!   A – – men!


The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                             Colossians 2:14

14 God erased the record of our debt brought against us by his legal demands. This record stood against us, but he took it away by nailing it to the cross.

Jesus “Nailed It” At The Cross



Hymn of the Day                                                                        Hymn 345  “In The Cross of Christ I Glory”

1 In the cross of Christ I glory,   Tow’ring o’er the wrecks of time.

All the light of sacred story    Gathers round its head sublime.


2 When the woes of life o’ertake me,   Hopes deceive and fears annoy,

Never shall the cross forsake me;   Lo, it glows with peace and joy.


3 When the sun of bliss is beaming   Light and love upon my way,

From the cross the radiance streaming   Adds more luster to the day.


4 Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure   By the cross are sanctified;

Peace is there that knows no measure,   Joys that through all time abide.

After which the Congregation will remain seated for

The Pre-Sermon Salutation

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord!   May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen.

Sermon Text                                                                                                                         Galatians 6:11-18

11 See what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 Those who want to look good in the flesh are the ones who are trying to compel you to be circumcised. Their only reason is so that they are not persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 As a matter of fact, those who are circumcised do not keep the law themselves. But they want to have you circumcised, so that they can boast about your flesh.

14 But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. 15 In fact, in Christ Jesus circumcision or uncircumcision does not matter. What matters is being a new creation. 16 Peace and mercy on those who follow this rule, namely, on the Israel of God.  17 Finally, let no one cause me any trouble, because I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus on my body.   18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

The Bottom Line:

It’s All – ONLY – About the Cross of Christ

following the sermon the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for


The Post-Sermon Blessing

May the God of peace, Who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, now equip you with everything good for doing His will!  Amen.

We Offer Our Gifts to the Lord

Our Offerings of Love to our Lord

Offerings will be received this morning through offering plates passed among those who have gathered here for worship.

   However, for those viewing this service online,  we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:     

1) You can mail a check (no cash) to the church address:     (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can donate on our website:


the Congregation will please rise as the offerings are brought to the altar

We Offer Our Prayers to the Lord

Today’s Special Prayers

The Lord’s Prayer and Response  

Congregation Our Father, Who art in heaven,  Hallowed be Thy name;


Pastor      Grant Father, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ may be proclaimed freely among us and throughout the world, and that we may live holy, Godly lives to the glory of Your name.

C: Thy Kingdom come;

P:  Grant, Father, that the proclamation of the Gospel may bear much fruit, so that large numbers of men, women, and children from every nation and tribe may come to know and believe in Your Son, Jesus Christ.

C: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;

P:  Grant , Father, that we may never forget that it is Your will that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.   Grant that we may remember that we are to carry out Your will by being witnesses of Christ to the world.   Father,  may Your will be done through us!

C: Give us this day our daily bread;

P:  Grant, Father, that we may always remember that every good gift is from above and that the earth and all that is in it are Yours.  May we also trust in Your for our daily bread.  Then we will confidently share our blessings with others and return to You a large, generous portion of the gifts You have entrusted to us.

C: And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;

P:  Forgive us, Father, for all the times we have given offense and kept others from coming to You.  Forgive us for being so indifferent and cold to Christ’s command to preach the Gospel to every nation.  Forgive us for so frequently forgetting that Christ died for us and that we should no longer live for ourselves, as a result, but for Him who died and rose again for us.  Grant that we may also forgive those who sin against us, love our enemies,  pray for those who persecute us, and do good to those who hate us, that we might, by all means possible, lead some to Christ.


C: And lead us not into temptation;

P:  Grant, Father, that Satan, the world, and our own sinful flesh may not tempt us to neglect the supreme task of the Church.  Grant that we never squander away our time while the world rushes toward Judgement Day;  that we never waste our financial resources on the pleasures and luxuries of this life, and in so doing deny others the Bread of Life.  Heavenly Father, keep us from these and all other temptations.

C: But deliver us from evil;

P:  Protect us, Father, from all harm and danger, but grant that we will always boldly confess our faith in Jesus no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the result may be.

C: For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.  Amen.

We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing

The Benediction

Brothers and sisters, now go in peace.   Live in harmony with one another.   And Serve the Lord in gladness.

The LORD bless you and keep you.

The LORD make His face to shine upon you  and be gracious unto you.

The LORD look upon you with favor, and grant you His peace.      Amen.

The Closing Hymn                                                                                     “As This Worship Service Closes”

sung to the melody of What A Friend We Have In Jesus”

cwh, 2022;    Dedicated to Bill Krizsan

As this worship service closes   And we sing this final song,

Thank you, Savior, for You’ve promised   That with us You’ll go along

 Guarding us in all temptation    In this “wilderness of sin”

Working in all things Your blessing       ‘Til we reach life’s journey’s end.


Fill us with Your Holy Spirit,    That, in all we say and do

We might every day be faithful,    Living godly lives for You.

Help us grow in faith and knowledge      Through Your blessed Means of Grace.

Help us to reflect Your image   While we run our earthly race.


Heav’nly Father now we praise You       For, in love, You sent Your Son.

In our place Christ lived and suffered –      Our salvation He has won.

Bless our church, our friends, and fam’ly      Keep us in Your Word, so true,

That one day we might inherit   Everlasting life with You.   Amen.


silent prayer,  





                                    + + +  Thank You  + + +


Thank you for worshiping with us this morning.    We invite you to join those around you for some good conversation and fellowship at the conclusion of today’s announcements.   We  also invite you to join us for coffee and other refreshments in our gymnasium/fellowship hall. 

Finally, we encourage you to remain afterwards with us for further study in God’s Word through our Bible Classes and Sunday School.   May the comfort of God’s love and  His forgiveness through Jesus Christ be with you throughout this day and this week.



Last Week at Grace                                      Worship Attendance: 65    Online views: 16         Communed:  56            

Sunday Bible Class: 22     (Online views 6)   Budget: $2345     Online: $413.33    Online Special: $101.31

Capital Improvement: $20       Tuesday Bible Class: 9

This Week’s Birthdays    9/25 – Emily Mansch;    9/26 – Olivia Laine;  9/17 – Lesa Roe;       9/28 – Autumn Benedict;

9/30 – Roger Wilkins;      October 01 – John Johnson

Serving Next Sunday (10-01)        Elders:   Steve Stone, Vic Walker            Ushers:   Fred Cusanelli, Chris Roberts      

Fellowship: …?????…                Altar Guild:   Harriet Johnson, Tina Wambold

This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church


Today            Morning Worship, 9:30 a.m.             Fellowship Period, 10:45 a.m.        

                                                Bible Class and Sunday School – 11:05 a.m.                                                      

Tuesday        Morning Bible Class,   10:30-11:30 am      

Wednesday   Midweek Bible Class for men and women, 6 to 7:15 p.m.

Saturday        Outreach Calls/Visitation, 10 a.m.

Sunday          Morning Worship and Communion, 9:30 a.m.          Fellowship, 10:45 am

                       Bible Class and Sunday School, 11:05 a.m.      

A Sinful, but Faithful Apostle

Defends His Ministry

2 Corinthians 10

Life is full of contrasts and comparisons.   Some people are tall; others are short.    Some are rich materially;   others are rich emotionally and/or Spiritually.   A person can cry real tears….sometimes from sadness; at other times from unrestrained joy.   The wisest among us aren’t always wise in a particular matter.   The least bright among us do, in certain matters, possess unique and invaluable knowledge.   Life is full of contrasts and comparisons.

Christians, of course, are living contrasts.   We love Christ.   But we love sin too, too much – if we’re honest.   The children of the world look at us, expecting faithfulness, integrity, and godliness.   Sometimes we deliver on those expectations.  At other times, we “out-children-of-the-world” the children of the world with our sin.    And what’s true Christians, in general, is also true of their preachers.   We can preach about sin, because we  know sin intimately as sinners ourselves.   Pastors are sinners.  All the Apostles were sinners too….. and that included the Apostle Paul.   Because of our inherent and active sinfulness, there are times when we simply are not the “best advertising” for Jesus and the Christian faith we profess.

Having already admitted, earlier in this letter (in chapter 4) that, figuratively-, physically-, and Spiritually-speaking he was a fragile, clay jar…..Paul never hid from his sinful inadequacies.   In I Timothy 1 he readily acknowledged that, prior to his conversion, he had been a blasphemer, a violent man, and a persecutor of the Church.   He even called himself “the worst [or chief] of sinners.”

But it’s one thing to admit your sins, which Paul honestly did….and it’s another thing to have your sins thrown in your face, and used against you, isn’t it?    Every pastor, every parent, eventually every Christian experiences that type of attacking criticism to one degree or another from someone in his/her life.    Almost always this kind of criticism isn’t intended to help an erring person repent of their sin.   At least THAT kind of criticism would be loving, and tied to a concern for a person’s soul or public witness.   Instead, the type of criticism we’re talking about is unloving, selfish, and intended to undermine another’s character and credibility.  

That’s the kind of criticism that Paul repeated had to deal with throughout his ministry…..including in his service to the congregation in Corinth.   Certain preachers (Judaizers) who had followed Paul, after he departed from Corinth, behind his back attacked his character and his legitimacy as an Apostle.  They suggested he was the fraud and false teacher…..when, in all actuality, they were the real frauds and false teachers.   They lied to the Corinthians, saying that the Gospel message Paul had brought to them – the Good News of free and faithful grace and salvation apart from works, and through faith alone in the sinless life, sacrificial death and victorious resurrection of Christ for us – was insufficient.   They told the Corinthians that, while they did need to believe in Jesus as the Promised Savior, they also had to add to their faith their works of obedience to the Old Testament Covenant Law….IF they were ever going to be sure they were saved.   But their legalistic Gospel couldn’t then – and won’t ever – save anyone.   No sinner can be perfect…..which one has to be if he/she is going to earn salvation by obedience.  

Paul knew and preached the true Gospel.   It had been given directly to him by Jesus Himself.   His apostolic, Gospel ministry had also been affirmed and authenticated by brother apostles, like Peter, and by James the brother of Jesus (and the head of the church in Jerusalem).     Paul didn’t need the Judaizers’ authentication or approval.   But that didn’t mean he could ignore what they were saying about him, his work and especially the message that he preached to the Corinthians.    For the sake of the souls of the Corinthians – some of which were in danger, for a variety of reasons, of succumbing to the manipulations and lies of the Judaizers – Paul had to defend his ministry and his message.    And that’s what he does here in the tenth chapter of Second Corinthians.

Note:   This chapter begins the third of this letter’s three major sections.  In chapters 1-7 Paul looked back on his relationship with and service to the Corinthians over the years.   He explains why he wasn’t able to visit them again as quickly as he and they wanted.   He also speaks about the blessings of the New Covenant in Christ that they all share.   In chapters 8-9, Paul speaks about the special benevolent offering that the Corinthians, among other gentile congregations, agreed to participate in for the benefit of the “mother church” in Jerusalem.   And now, starting with chapter 10 and going to this letter’s end, Paul looks ahead to his upcoming visit to the church in Corinth.   He makes some special remarks about the false teachers that continue to afflict the church there, as well as for those members who are listening to them.

10:1     “Now I myself” – Paul draws attention to what has become a personal matter for him:   a further defense of his ministry.   The personal side of what follows is evident by Paul’s frequent use of the word “I.”

“appeal to you” – Paul could order them to be obedient.  Instead, he “appeals” to them as brothers and

            sisters in Christ, encouraging them toward greater godliness.

”by the humility and gentleness of Christ” – Jesus’ patient, meek attitude enabled Him to submit to undeserved indignities and abuse for the sake of the Gospel.   It’s a spirit that is free from bitterness or any desire for vengeance.    Some in Corinth apparently dismissed Paul’s gentleness as weakness of character, not realizing that he is being purposefully Christ-like, evangelical, in his dealings with them.  These virtues are Spirit-given (Galatians 5:22-23) rather than something naturally occurring in us.

“I, who am gentle…in your presence” – another way of expressing this would be “I am reasonable” or “fair” and conveys a “lenient” approach which willingly submits to injustice and maltreatment, trusting in God ultimately to make things right.

NOTE:   In the previous chapters, Paul’s rather gracious tone implies that most of the Corinthian believers, after having been alienated by his opponents, are now once again favorably disposed toward him.  In this final section of his letter, Paul deals firmly with those who’ve slandered him and whichever members of the congregation are still aligned with the slanderers.  His critics have been saying that Paul is “bold” when he’s not face to face with them, threatening to take disciplinary action against them.   But they also say that He really won’t do anything when push comes to shove and he’s actually in their presence, because then he is weak and indecisive.   Essentially, they’re saying he’s too weak to be an authentic, authoritative Apostle.

10:2     “when I arrive there”  – “Make no mistake about it” says Paul.  “In spite of what my detractors might say about my being afraid to see you again, I am coming back.  You can be sure of that!”

            “I may not have to be bold” – to be courageous.   Paul hoped that he would not have to be a blunt, law-

spouting, disciplinary preacher when finally reached Corinth again.  However, it looked like he might have to be that way toward a few members and their (false) teachers.

“who think that we walk in the way the sinful flesh does” – To his Corinthian critics, Paul was a fraud and hypocrite whose primary goal in life was to satisfy his sinful nature.

10:3     “even though we walk in the flesh” – Paul speaks of “flesh” here in a morally neutral, human sense.  He’s talking about the frailty of his physical body (the “tent” that will one day collapse – 2 Cor 5:1-4).

“we do not wage war” – Paul’s entire ministry was an all-encompassing conflict against Satan and his evil allies.   So is ours!

10:4     “the weapons of our warfare” – this is a general term in Greek for weapons, whether offensive or defensive in nature.   Paul’s weapons, of course, are not arrogance or aggressiveness.   His weapons are the Word and Sacrament, along with prayer, a forgiving spirit, gentleness, etc.

            “weapons made powerful by God” –   because the “Means of Grace” are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

“for tearing down strongholds” – literally “destroying fortresses.”   Think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:18, referring to the purposeful advance and ultimate victory of the Christian Church ….. that even “the gates of hell will not overpower it.”

10:5     “arrogance that rises up against the knowledge of God” – this includes, but certainly is not limited to, the presumptions of human reason that consistently make light of the Word of God and the faith of God’s people.  For example, natural, unconverted man regards the Gospel as foolishness…..even though it is the Gospel – alone – that makes us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15)

“we make every thought captive” – literally “to take captive with a spear”….to bring into subjection.  The present tense of the verb in the original Greek indicates that the struggle is an ongoing war.    The Christian’s heart and mind become fully subject to the lordship of Christ.   This is what Jesus was aiming at when, in Matthew 22:37, He tells us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind.

10:6     “we are ready” – Paul is prepared to deal with two groups inside the church in Corinth.  The first consists of those “super-apostles” who have been maligning him.  The second group are the members of the congregation who have been misled by the false teachers.   He saw the latter as weak believers and intended to deal firmly, yet gently and evangelically with them.

”to punish every disobedience” – Once he is sure of the majority of the Corinthians submission to Christ, he will deal in a disciplinary way with the false teachers who have persisted in being disobedient (these are the troublemakers mentioned in chapters 10-12).

            “when your obedience is fully restored” – or fulfilled/accomplished/completed.

10:7     “only according to the outward appearance” – that is, looking only on the surface, superficially.  Instead, they should look at things as they really are.

“If anyone has convinced himself that he belongs to Christ” – convinced here means “to have confidence.”   Paul is probably referring to those members and their false teachers in Corinth who claim that they’re spiritually superior to everyone else because they’ve concluded that they are Christ’s true followers.

“We belong to Christ just as much as he does” – This is a reference to Paul and his co-workers, who are faithful followers of Christ, just as much (if not more) that those who claim a connection and commitment to Christ.

10:8                             “our authority, which the Lord has given” – Paul and his associated were not “self-appointed” missionaries/ministers.   Far from it, they had been called by God Himself to serve in the public ministry, and to serve the Corinthians in specific.   Our pastors offer Christ’s forgiveness in His place, and according to the call God has extended them to serve in the public ministry. 

“for building you up” – to edify ones faith.  The primary purpose of Paul’s ministry is to be God’s instrument through which faith is established and built up on the souls he serves.

“and not for tearing you down” – In his ministry Paul wanted to be an instrument through which God “tore down” Satan’s strongholds….and not someone who purposefully damaged the faith of the people he served.

10:9     “My purpose”  – Paul’s purpose was serving souls, building up their faith in Christ.

“as if I am trying to frighten you” – the word in Greek for “frighten” literally means “terrifying” – Paul had not intention of “scaring” people into heaven….which doesn’t work anyway.   He wasn’t legalistic.  He was evangelical.  

10:10   “Some say ‘his letters are weighty and strong’” – His critics….probably both the false teachers and their unspiritual sheep.

‘but his physical presence is weak’ – Apparently, Paul’s physical appearance was not in any way imposing or intimidating.

‘and his speech amounts to nothing’ – the perfect tense of the verb here indicates that Paul’s words are despised by his critics.   Perhaps Paul wasn’t a “great orator” like his false teacher detractors thought they were.  It’s also possible that they were criticizing his “plain-spoken,” rather ordinary style of communicating.    Paul had intentionally avoided speaking eloquently, as an intellectual or orator, because he wanted to proclaim the Gospel to people in a way that anyone could understand.  

10:11   “by our word through letters when we are away” – What Paul writes to them is consistent (see below) with what He will say to them face to face.   His God-given message to them of the Law and the Gospel won’t change a bit.


            “we will be in our work when we are present” – see above.

10:12                           “with some of those who speak highly of themselves” – They are “legends in their own minds”….. a problem not restricted to the first century, but which is painfully (and annoyingly) evident in our world today.

“when they measure themselves only by themselves” – The false teachers had the view, in evaluating others, that they themselves were the ultimate standard of measurement, and that no one else (particularly Paul) could approach their greatness.

10:13   “things that cannot be measured” – things that are immeasurable.    Paul’s saying here that he is not going to brag for the sake of bragging, as many people do.   Distinct from the false apostles who have no problem “making things up” and “exaggerating” their “virtues” and their capabilities, Paul is only going to talk about what is quantifiable and true….according to observation, according to His God-given call into the public ministry, and – the most important benchmark of all – according to the Word of God.

“according to the measure of the assignment that God….measured out to us” – the Greek word translated “measured” literally has to do with the lanes that are marked out for runners in athletic contests.    Paul regarded Corinth as the “field of ministry” God had assigned to him;   he had been called by Christ into the public ministry, and had been sent to Macedonia and Achaia by Jesus (Acts 16:9-10).      In intruding themselves into the congregation in Corinth, the false teachers had crossed over into Paul’s lane – they were interfering with the ministry God has already given him…..and they didn’t belong there!

10:14   “we are not overdoing our boasting” – that is, stretching something beyond its limits.   As the character Joe Friday used to say in the old TV program (and subsequent movie) Dragnet:   it’s “Just the facts.”

“we were the first ones to come all the way to you with the Gospel” – Paul is reminding his readers that, prior to his arrival, they had not heard (much moreso believed in) the Gospel.  Had he not brought the Good News to them, he wouldn’t presume to expect their loyalty and gratitude.    But Paul arrived far ahead of those “super apostles,” and he came to serve their souls – not to serve himself, as they did.

10:15   “we are not boasting….in the hard work of others” – That is essentially what the “super apostles” were doing – they were taking credit for work that God had accomplished through Paul.   They were bold in declaring that they – in contrast to Paul – offered what the Corinthians really needed for their souls’ salvation.   And so, they were dangerously meddling in Paul’s God-given ministry, which was utterly unacceptable then….even as it is unacceptable and sinful today.   (See the Tenth Commandment)

“as your faith grows” – literally “to cause your faith to grow”…..something which the Holy Spirit works.

“our assignment will be greatly increased” – “increased” literally means “to magnify” or “to enlarge.”   Paul hopes that God will give him the opportunity for an expended ministry among the Corinthians and others….not for the purpose of satisfying his ego, but for the purpose of glorifying and serving more souls with the Gospel.

10:16   “we will preach the Gospel in the regions beyond you” –   regarding “regions beyond” Paul is probably thinking about ministering in either Rome, or perhaps Spain (Romans 15:19-24).

“not be boasting about what someone has already done” – The idea here is “without boasting of work that has already been done in another’s field of labor”

10:17   “let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” – whether we’re talking about how we were brought to faith in Christ, or about the material, emotional and Spiritual blessings we enjoy, or whatever else…..let’s give God the glory for who we are and what we have.   Also see Deuteronomy 8:17-18.

10:18   “it is not the one who commends himself who is approved”  – “approved after testing has been done”


“the one whom the Lord commends”   – Ministers/Christians who receive the Lord’s approval/commendation, “well done, good and faithful servant”  (Matthew 25:21).