Why Are There Sinners in the Church?
Monday of Pentecost 4
18 June 2018
Your sin should not keep you out of the church, because sin can only be taken care of in the church. My mother-in-law was often reluctant to visit her family doctor. I think she is afraid that she will find out that she is really ill. Many people treat the church like that. But we are gravely ill, even unto eternal death, if we don't seek the healing of Jesus the physician.
Some years ago, I knew a lady who had a mild and very treatable form of cancer. She declined therapy for the cancer because she was afraid of the cure, which was very successful and not invasive or painful. Eventually she died, dying of her fear. Many people live in that fear of the forgiveness of Jesus because they think the cure will hurt or be invasive. But the cure for sin has already hurt the body of the physician, who is the cure for sin. His holy hands bore our sins. Our sickness was healed in His stripes (Is 53:5). The piercing spear of our wickedness invaded His body. That means that He has invited sinners to be His closest friends and confidants. He has taken our sin away so that we no longer bear it. He has forgiven it through the minister of the church, to whom he has promised, "If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven" (Jn 20:23).
Because the church is the home of forgiven sinners, we should not let the sin and wickedness of others keep us from joining the church. They are no worse than us. We are no better than them. We, all together, are sinners! In fact, we should be comforted by and drawn to the community of people who share our weaknesses. I am not a golfer and would not be at home on the golf course with a great golfer like Jordan Spieth. I am the Elmer Fudd of golf beside Mr. Spieth. In church, we are all spiritual Elmer Fudds dependent on the mercy of God in Christ who dies. One of the reasons we need to be there is because we don't deserve to be there, because the deserving is all Christ's. And if He has deserved my entry into the church, shouldn't that be true of everyone else there? How could I be more exacting about holiness than God? How could I be less forgiving than the One that counsels unending forgiveness and teaches us to pray, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Why are there sinners in the church? Because Jesus loves sinners and forgives them. He forgives you. Find a church and join the rest of those sinners.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"Paul called himself the foremost of all sinners (1Ti 1:15); that we who know we are sinners console ourselves with this salutary text; and that God does not condemn sinners but rather sends His Son to save them. As a consequence, no cause for condemnation has been left among men. Otherwise sin would seem to be the greatest cause. You see, if we cling to Him, sin and the commandment have been washed away by Christ. So the man who complains that he is burdened with sins deceives himself, or lack of faith is the reason for his condemnation. He describes this beautifully here, saying that God loves and pities sinners.
"This is an essential passage which demands frequent use, especially in temptation and in the peril of death. At those times one has the real proof of that passage. When people are without tribulation, it cannot bring pleasure. Under the pope we have lived quietly. No one hated us. In that situation this passage was foolish and dull. When the hour of trial draws near, then we remember this Word of salvation. Therefore, the Word is willing to do battle against death, because as the Word of life and peace it is a battle against fear, Satan, and tribulation and as the Word of God it is a struggle against the devil, and the spirit with the flesh that adheres to it is saved."

Martin Luther, Lectures on 1 Timothy, 1.15
Psalm 32

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (ESV)
Heavenly Father, You have called sinners blessed and transgressors forgiven. Send Your Holy Spirit that I might believe what the devil, the world and my sinful flesh reject; that poor sinners like me have my sins covered and my iniquities taken away for the sake of Christ Jesus, who died for me. Amen.
For Ryon Degenhardt, who is suffering from cancer, that the Lord Jesus Christ would grant him strength and healing
For Bob Schreiner, that the Lord Jesus would grant him confidence and faith in the face of cancer
For Eileen Esget, who has suffered a heart attack, that Christ the Lord would support her and grant her a full recovery
For Anastasia Krumwiede, who is facing a number of debilitating illnesses, that the Lord would grant her relief and healing
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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