The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 18, 2019
Walk with Jesus!
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (NIV1984)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
You go down to the mall just to get out of the house, escape the hot weather and get a little exercise all at the same time. As you are walking around the mall all by yourself a total and complete stranger suddenly comes up and starts walking right beside you. Do you feel comfortable walking around the mall next to someone you don’t even know? Probably not. In fact, it would probably make you feel rather nervous, wouldn’t it?
Now imagine that you are walking around the mall and suddenly a dear friend whom you have not seen in quite some times comes up to you and says, “Hey! Fancy meeting you here!” Now would you feel comfortable walking around the mall with that dear friend by your side? Of course you would!
As I was studying our sermon text for today I was striving to find a way to take this portion of God’s holy Word and place it before you in a way that you would hopefully remember, in a way that would help you in your life as a friend of God, as a dearly beloved child of God. In the end, I decided that we are going to study this text under the theme: Walk with Jesus. There are two points that I hope you will remember and take home with you today, my friends. First, I hope you will remember that when you walk with Jesus you are walking with the One who gives you strength. Second, I hope you will remember that when you walk with Jesus you are walking with the One who gives you life.
How did I come up with our sermon theme for today? Please look at the opening verse of our text. Paul writes, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him.” The three words “continue to live” are a translation of just one Greek word: the word “peripateo.” Very literally the word “peripateo” means, “to walk around or stroll.” According to The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Vol. 3, p. 944) the word “peripateo” “obtains an outstanding significance as a term for denoting a way of life; the nature and the manner of the way of life make it clear as to what governs a man in his being and acting.”
Here in this opening verse of our text God the Holy Spirit is reminding us that as Christians, as sinners who by the grace and power of God alone have “received Christ Jesus as Lord” we now need to “live in him.” We now need to live our life in a way that “makes it clear as to what governs a man (us) in his being and acting.” To put it very simply, as the saved children of God, my friends, you and I need to live our life in a way that openly reveals to everyone around us that we are “walking” with Jesus by our side!
As we strive by God’s grace to do this, as we strive by God’s grace to walk with Jesus, the Lord Himself will give us strength. Look at verses 6 & 7 of our text. Paul writes, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
As we are walking with Jesus He will indeed give us the strength we need to grow in our faith— to grow like a tree “planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1:3), to grow like “living stones” being built into a “spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (I Peter 2:5). When we walk with Jesus we are indeed walking with the One who gives us the strength to grow in our faith.
Conversely, my friends, if our faith is feeling weak, if we are feeling tired on our journey as a Christian through this world perhaps we need to take a moment to examine how closely we are walking with Jesus. How can we tell if we are walking closely by Jesus’ side? The place to start is by examining how often we are using God’s holy Word and Sacrament. The more we gather together to read and study God’s holy inspired Word, the more we come to Jesus’ altar to receive Jesus’ true body and blood in the Sacrament of Holy Communion the closer we will be walking with Jesus. The closer we are walking with Jesus the more we will be receiving the strength that only He can give to us— the strength that we need to grow in our faith.
Why? Why is it important to walk with Jesus? Why is it important to be continually strengthened in our faith? One reason, my friends, is found in verse 8 of our text. Paul writes, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”
We are literally being bombarded by false teachings, my friends. Sometimes these false teachings come at us from the unbelieving world around us. Sometimes these false teachings come at us from within the visible Christian church at large. All false teachings, however, have one common denominator: They all strive to turn our attention away from Christ and His cross (Pointing to the cross) and to focus our attention on ourselves and our own works. Instead of emphasizing what God did for us in Christ these “hollow and deceptive philosophies, which depend on human tradition and the basic principles of this world” emphasize what you must do for God! Unfortunately, all these “hollow and deceptive philosophies” sound really good to our human logic and to our old sinful nature. That’s why it is so important for us to walk with Jesus. We need Him to strengthen our faith through His Word and Sacrament. As our faith grows stronger then we are less likely to be taken “captive” by the “hollow and deceptive” philosophies of this world.
Just as it is important for us to walk with Jesus so that He can give us the strength to grow in our faith, so also it is important for us to walk with Jesus because He is our Source of life. Look at verses 13-14 of our text. Paul continues, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.”
By nature every human being is born spiritually dead. (Ephesians 2:1) By nature we are indeed sinful and deserve God’s punishment both now and in eternity— just as we confessed earlier this morning. By nature we were doing everything we could to run away from God— because we do not want to walk beside Him. By nature we were “uncircumcised” and unforgiven sinners in the eyes of the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth. Then as Paul says in verse 12 of our text, purely by the grace of God we were “buried with him (Christ) in baptism and raised with him (Christ) through your faith in the power of God.”
Through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism you were “born again.” Through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism the Lord God completely forgave all your sins— He “washed” you clean. Through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism you were made “alive” in Christ. Now the God who graciously gave you life wants you to spend your life “walking” alongside Him. Since our sermon text for next Sunday specifically deals with this subject we won’t go into a great deal of detail right now. At the same time, my friends, let me very simply remind you that the Greek word that is translated in the opening verse of our text as “continue to live” in Christ emphasizes the way in which you live your life, what “governs” who you are, what guides your daily actions. Perhaps an easy way to remember what “Walking with Jesus” means is to remember that as a saved and forgiven child of God you will want to live your life in humble faithful obedience to will of the God who gave you true life. But, as I said, we’ll talk more about that next Sunday.
Why? Why is it so important for us to walk with Jesus now during the course of our life here on this earth? It is vitally important, my friends, because more than anything else we want— no, we need— the confidence of knowing that we will walk with Jesus in eternity! Our confidence for eternity is found in the closing verse of our text when Paul says, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
Not only did Jesus descend into hell to proclaim His total and complete victory over sin, death and the devil, but Jesus physically rose from the dead on the third day to guarantee that one day we too shall rise from our grave and “continue to live” with Jesus forever! Yes, my friends, walking with Jesus now is what gives us the assurance us that we will most certainly walk with Jesus in eternity. In fact, you might be interested to know that the Greek word “peripateo” is also used to describe the life of God’s children in heaven. In Revelation 3:4 Jesus says concerning the faithful children of God, “They will walk (peripateo) with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.”
We all know what it is like to walk alongside someone we love. The joy, the happiness, the sense of safety and security that brings to us goes beyond words. My prayer this morning is that as the dearly beloved children of God you and I will consciously strive to make sure that we are indeed walking with Jesus every single day. Remember that walking with Jesus means that you are walking with the One who gives you the strength you need to both grow in your faith as well as to avoid being taken “captive” by the “hollow and deceptive” philosophies of this world. Remember that walking with Jesus means that you are walking with the One who not only gave you true life here on this earth, but He is the One who guarantees you eternal life in His heavenly Home. So walk with Jesus, my friends!
To God be the glory!