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Ready for the Lord’s Return

“The book had all the makings of a bestseller. Adventure, drama, action, mystery, even a touch of horror; it was all there. Paul finished reading the final few pages, put the book down, and reflected on the author’s dramatized account of the events recorded in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation. The Author had a gift for bringing the biblical ideas to life.

Kelly, a friend from the church, had recommended the book to Paul. She had told him the books was not only an excellent read—it had changed her life. With a new understanding of the way in which the end-times would unravel, Kelly again felt excited to be a Christian. She had explained to him how the book had enabled her to figure out the mysterious symbolism of Revelation. With this understanding, she was now able to see that the end-times scenario was unfolding right before her eyes!”[1]

So begins a chapter entitled, “The Millenniums Debate” from the book, Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. The name of that book which was read by Paul and recommended by Kelly was not mentioned in the book. But maybe it need not be. Many books and movies have been and are still being published and produced which have to do with the end-times, for such books and moves not only sell money—they peak our curiosity and interest levels, too. They “claim to give understanding of how the end-times will unravel.” They “dramatize the events of Revelation.” They might even move some to believe they are more “excited about being a Christian.” But such books are to be tested against the entirety of the Scriptures—not just one book or one section—rather all…

Mt24.36-44, Advent 1, 2010A.pdf

Christ is THE ONE

John’s is the question worth asking, for everlasting life and the Kingdom of Heaven are worth being sure of. Rest from all of one’s enemies and deliverance from eternal death are worth seeking out. The Coming One spoken of by John gives just these. He would save His people from death, forgive sins, and establish His kingdom forever.

This was the One promised to Adam and Eve, the One who would crush the serpent’ head (Genesis 3:15), the Prophet like Moses whom God would raise, who would speak to the people all that God the Father commanded Him, and whoever would not hear His words which He speaks in the Father’s Name, it would be required of Him (Deuteronomy 18:18-19).

The Coming One to which John referred was the One who would rule on King David’s throne forever. He was the One who would build a house for the Lord’s Name whose kingdom would have no end. This was He of whom the prophets prophesied and all the people had hoped to come.

Mt11.2-15, Advent 3, 2010A.pdf

The Preaching Of Repentance

John the Baptist preached a message of repentance. He called his hearers to turn from their sin and to hope in the One who was coming after him, the One whose sandals he was not worthy to carry. John was that voice of one crying in the wilderness, written about in Isaiah, who cried out, “Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight” (Matthew 3:3 || Isaiah 40:3). John was sent, sent by God to prepare the way of the Lord, for the Lord was indeed coming.

The Apostles, too, preached a message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. So Jesus, after His resurrection and before ascending into heaven, says to his disciples, Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:46-47).

Mt03.1-12, Advent 2, 2010A.pdf

“Reason For Thanksgiving”

The Psalmist writes, Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever (Psalm 106:1). These words might be familiar to you, and in general, to many Lutherans, for we are accustomed to saying such words before or after meals. How true they are! The Lord is good—the Lord is good to us, each day of our lives.

Thus does the Psalmist in another place write, What shall I render to the LORD For all His benefits toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the LORD (Psalm 116:12-13).

According to God’s mercy do we have what we have, possess what we possess, and enjoy what we enjoy. The gifts of life’s necessities like food, water, clothing, shelter, family, and the like God gives according to His grace, without any merit or worthiness in us. This goes for not just the material and physical gifts that we so enjoy. This goes for the gifts of life and salvation which God gives freely in Christ.

Lk17.11-19, Thanksgiving, 2010.pdf

“The Death of Jesus Christ & The Coming Judgment”

It is peculiar that today’s Gospel reading from St. Luke seems so far removed from ‘The Last Day of the Church Year’. Where we would expect to hear of God’s Coming Judgment, of signs in heaven and growing tribulation on earth, and of Christ’s return in the clouds (Acts 1:9-11), instead we hear of Christ on Calvary’s cross, of women weeping after Him, of people mocking Him as He’s dying on the cross, and one of the two criminals crucified with Him saying, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom (Luke 23:42).

An account such as Jesus’ death and the events just before it do not seem to ‘fit in’ to this time of the church year. It seems like it would be better suited for Lent and Good Friday than today. However, taking a closer look at the text, we find that it is indeed fitting. And it is ‘fitting’ in this way: First, with regard to Jesus’ words to the women who were mourning and lamenting after Him as He is on His way to the cross and death. Second, concerning the proper way to be prepared for our Lord’s return. And third, with reference to Jesus’ words to the criminal on the cross, to whom He said, Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise (Luke 23:43).

Lk23.27-43, Pentecost26. Last Sunday of the Church Year, 2010C.pdf

And all the brethren who are with me.  To the churches of Galatia.

Galatians 1:2

In the ecumenical/universal creeds of Christendom, Christians everywhere confess faith in “the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints” (Apostles’ Creed) and “in one holy Christian and apostolic church” (Nicene Creed).

This same Church that Christians confess, on the one hand, consists only of those who have faith in Jesus Christ.  NonChristians and unbelievers are not members of this church.  They may be members of congregations and churchly organizations, but this kind of membership does not translate into membership into the communion of saints.  Not every member who attends church on Sunday morning or who retains membership in a congregation is Christian.

A Christian believes in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.  A Christian repents of sin.  A Christian is sorry for the sins committed against God and neighbor.  Only those who, confessing their sins, believe God’s promises in Christ, are members of the one true Church.  This is so only because of Jesus, and not because of how much external change we can see or evaluate.  Membership in the holy Christian Church is one of faith, not sight.

The Holy Christian Church consists of the saints still living who “call upon the Name of the Lord” (Romans 10:9).  It also consists of those who have died having faith in the Lord.  These faithful are also members of the Holy Church (not the Roman Catholic church), again, not because of all the good that they did, but because of Jesus.  They looked to Him for salvation and not to themselves.  They sought to be rid of their sin and the godlessness within themselves and the world.  They looked toward their heavenly home, prepared for all who wait upon the Lord.

Such a confession of membership in the Holy Christian Church and the Communion of Saints is not at all meaningless.  The Christian is confident that such a church exists on account of God’s Word.  This confidence leads to firm and bold confession of Christ and His Holy Name.  And that the Christian remain in this heavenly fellowship, God has given His Word and the Holy Sacraments.  He has given His Word that we readily hear and receive it, not doubting, but firmly believing the promises given.  The Lord has also gives His own body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins.

Luther

The Church is universal throughout the world, wherever the Gospel of God and the sacraments are present.  The Jews, the Turks, and the fanatics are not the church, because they oppose and deny these things (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p25-26).

Prayer: Gracious God, you have brought us into fellowship with You through the blessed death of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Give us faith in Your promises, that we not doubt, but confidently take You at Your Word.  Keep us in this faith, gladly hearing Your Word, remembering our baptism, and partaking of Christ’s body and blood, that we remain Your holy people and not be led astray by the temptations of our own hearts, the world, or the devil.  Amen.

A Survey of Christian Doctrine and Teaching

WhatAboutPamphlets.Barry.pdf

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