Sermon: St. John 8:31-36 – “Here I Stand”

St. John 8:31-36 – “Here I Stand”
2017 Higher Things Conference
June 27, 2017
Divine Service

In the name of Jesus. Amen. “So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.”  Free. Set free. Acquitted. Absolved. Forgiven. Baptized. Worded. Bodied and Blooded. Saved. Freed by the Son of God.

Liberated. No more chains of the Law — ceremonial, moral, or otherwise. The Law can’t condemn you — not in Jesus. Jesus is the end of the Law unto righteousness for everyone who believes.

You are Free. Uncontainable. Win-or-lose free. Broke-or-rich free. Liberated from guilt, from pain, from condemnation. Completely unrestrainedly free. Take-they-our-lives, goods-fame-child-and-wife, though-these-all-be-gone, the-victory-has-been-won, the-kingdom-ours-remaitheth-FREE! Crucify you? You’ll just rise again! Free!

Because you can’t lose your salvation in the Gospel. No one can ever snatch you from the Father’s hand.  You’d have to leave Jesus to lose your salvation.  You are the baptized.  Why would you leave the One who saves you?

For in the Gospel — in the faith, in Jesus —the Law cannot condemn you anymore. You are freed from the Law. You are freed from hell. You are as free…as Jesus.

You don’t need to worry about, “If I stay in the Faith…” Or, “If I’m good enough, pure enough, whatever enough…” Ick!  There’s no “making it to heaven” in the Gospel!

Is Jesus in heaven? He is, then you will and are too. He’s sitting at the right hand of God. Then that’s your seat, too! For where Jesus is, there you must be also.  Believing in Jesus, you must be saved.

“You just can’t say that, Pastor Borghardt! You can’t tell youth that they are free in Jesus. They’ll just sin! They’ll fornicate. Text bad words. Gossip. Or fall into awful things like homosexuality.”

Yes, I can. Yes, I just did. And yes, I must. If we are gonna talk about the Reformation this week, you MUST be taught to “Here I Stand” on the Gospel. I must tell you that the Law and works can’t save you. In fact, if I don’t tell you this Gospel, your pastors and youth leaders will tar and feather me in the courtyard.

And don’t fall for this common idea among Christians — Lutherans even — that “faith alone saves you, but not only faith saves you.” Like faith saves you but you need something else besides faith — like some works or some decision or behavior change — that’s gross and wrong too. That’s not Luther’s doctrine! That’s John Calvin’s! Different conference.

Here’s what you can stand on for sure on the Last Day: Only Jesus, only Jesus, only Jesus saves you! That right there is the Gospel.

And you being free by Jesus isn’t EVER the cause of your sin. You’re the one responsible for your sin. You sin because you are a slave to sin. You were conceived in it. Chained to its death. Captive in its seduction. You slip into it. You run toward it. You are all dead rotting corpses who only know how to live dead lives in dead sin.

You are like criminals who, when released from prison don’t know anything other than the prison of sin and death, so you go and sin more because being in prison to the Law is easier than freedom. You are sin-addicts – born dead and doomed to be the living dead until sin takes its final toll on you and you die.

You need to repent of your sins…or else.  Stop judging, tearing up, finding fault, gossiping, hating, rejoicing at evil things. Stop living like you wanna live — constantly doing unchaste and indecent things.

The hate, the refusing to forgive others, the coveting, the disobeying your parents, the despising of God’s word and the misuse of His name. Stop that stuff right now. Stop it like your life depends upon it — because it does!


You can’t live in your sins and think you can somehow manipulate God with some lame idea that He has to save you no matter what sinful things you do. Living in your sins is simply incompatible with the Christian faith, for it sets you outside of the Jesus Who died and rose to save you from those sins. And it will end with you getting tossed into hell.

That’s the Law, dear Saints of God. A law we love to talk about how much we love as we inflict it on others. And those who wish to put themselves under the Law – any law, whether ceremonial or moral or commandment – will be judged and condemned by that very same law. For by the Law – any law or any use of the Law, shall no flesh be justified before God.

“But now,” says Jesus, “the Gospel.” Apart from the Law is the Gospel. “If the Son sets you free, then you are truly free indeed.” You have been liberated from the Law and its demands and condemnations. Freed by the Son from your slavery to sin, from death, even from hell. Released from the need to live in your sins any more.

The Law by itself can’t free you from sin. All it can do is add is more accusation and punishment on you. But in the Gospel, in Jesus, you are free.  You have been set free from your sins. That means you don’t have to sin any more!

Your slavery to having to sin is over in the three magical words — “I forgive you.” The chains of sin break in the water, “I baptized you in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” The death and hell that you have coming for what you deserve has a remedy — “Take eat, take drink, the Body and Blood of Christ.”

And that means you are not only really free from the guilt of your sins.   You are free from ever having to do those sins again.  Living in your sins is the very thing the Lord Jesus has set you free from.

You are Forgiven free. Freed by the Son. Familied by God the Father. Son-ed by the Son of God who loved you and gave up His life for you.

You will now live for others. Be chaste and descent. Free to live differently than how you feel you were born.  Liberated to put others first in the particular place He placed you.  You are enlivened to walk steadfast in His faithfulness through life like you own this entire place because God is your Father and He has nothing but smiles and sunshine for you — even when the sun darkens in the middle of the day.

Because the sun darkened on the Son of God as He hung on the cross, answering for your sins. Jesus lived the perfect life under the Law, fulfilling it for you and in your place. He took the slavery of the Law upon Himself. Then His death took the eternal punishment for your slavery to sin.

You are Free. Set free. Acquitted. Absolved. Forgiven. Baptized. Worded. Bodied and Blooded. Saved. Freed by the Son of God.

In Jesus, you must rise with Jesus.  In Jesus, you are free.  In Jesus, you are forgiven.

For if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.


St. Matthew 15:21-28 – Reminiscere 2017

St. Matthew 15:21-28 – Reminiscere 2017
Zion Ev. Lutheran Church, McHenry, IL
Sunday, March 11, 2017
Watch Here

canaanite womanIn the Name of Jesus. Amen. “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”

The woman was a Canaanite.  That’s all she was when she came to Jesus.  She was outside the faith, outside the family.  She had no stake or claim on God.  She was nothing but a Canaanite.

She had picked up some religious catch phrases to stake a claim on Jesus — you know the ones.  Like children who have just done something naughty can look like angels, we all think we know the right religious catch phrases to con God into giving us what we want. Continue reading

St. Matthew 4:1-11 – Invocavit 2017

St. Matthew 4:1-11 – Invocavit 2017
Zion Ev. Lutheran Church, McHenry, IL
March 4-5, 2017

temptation_templeIn the Name of Jesus. Amen.  Sin.  It’s slavery.  Worse than any sickness.   Worse than any cancer.  It effects everything that is you – your thoughts, your feelings, your everything.  It twists everything that is you. 

Sometimes you sin almost against your will, contrary to the good you wanna do.  It’s like chains that we can’t get free of. 

Other times, you sin because you wanna sin, like an itch that the more you scratch it, the less you care that you are doing something bad for you.

And it’s not someone else that does the evil you do, or that you aren’t like that – you are, you do, and you keep doing.  And it’s not even that the Serpent has to offer you to be like God any more – you’ll itch for a far cheaper prize, you’ll sell out for far less.  Continue reading

St. Matthew 20:1-16 – Septuagesima 2017

St. Matthew 20:1-16 – Septuagesima 2017
Zion Ev. Lutheran Church, McHenry, IL
February 11-12, 2017
Watch Here

vineyardIn the name of Jesus. Amen.  This is how the kingdom of God is, dear Saints of God.  This is how God is! 

Jesus saves sinners — sinners who are different than you, sinners who don’t deserve it, people are mostly good but still sinners, and sinners who sees themselves as they truly are — poor, miserable, awful before God — whose only real hope is in the suffering and death of Jesus.

Not earned.  Not deserved.  Not worked for.  Salvation comes by Jesus to sinners like you and me.  By Grace alone.  Received by Faith alone.  Continue reading

St.Mark 8:26-34 – “We Confess” Evening Prayer

St.Mark 8:26-34 – “We Confess” Evening Prayer
Concordia University Irvine
February 4, 2017
Watch here as a part of the Evening Prayer service

goodfridayIn the name of Jesus. Amen.  And He said to them, “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter answered Him, “You are the Christ.”

That’s the confession we confess!  You, Jesus, are the Christ.  You are the One rejected by the chief priests, elders, and teachers of the Law.  You are the One crucified under Pontius Pilate, who died and buried.  You are the One who on the third day rose again.

Jesus is the suffering servant.  He is Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the World.  He is my holiness before God.  He is my forgiveness before God, my justification, and my sanctification.  Yours too! Continue reading

John 1:1-14 – Christmas Day – 2016

John 1:1-14 – Christmas Day – 2016
Zion Ev. Lutheran Church, McHenry, IL
December 25, 2016
Listen Here

babyjesusMerry Christmas!! In the name of Jesus. Amen.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Merry Christmas!  God has thrown out the religious playbook.  He has changed everything.  He reshaped the compass on where He is and where you are.

God is with sinners in Jesus now — for sinners.  He’s right down in the mud and muck of your world.  Redeeming it — redeeming you from all the mud and muck in your life. 

Since Christmas, where you are, there God is.  In the water and His name, in the word of Absolution, in the Body and Blood of Jesus.  God is with you.  God is for you.  God is near you. Continue reading

St. Luke 2:1-20 – Christmas Eve – 2016

St. Luke 2:1-20 – Christmas Eve – 2016
Zion Ev. Lutheran Church, McHenry, IL
December 24, 2016
Watch Here

nativityMerry Christmas!!! In the Name of Jesus. Amen.  It’s true.  It’s all true.  It seems impossible, almost like a magical fairy tale.  But, it all happened.  Everything that you heard in the Gospel tonight — it all happened to save you.

You know this Gospel by heart.  You learned it in Christmas songs that we sing every year.  So, feel free to sing with me! Continue reading