We Live in the Last Days
Reformation Sunday Trinity Lutheran Church
26 October 2014 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
We live in the end times. We are in the last days. Just like at the time when John wrote the Book of Revelation and just like the days of the Lutheran Reformation in the 1500s.
Witness what is happening in the world. As it was in John’s day, the 1500s, so also today. As Jesus warned in Matthew 24. Wars and rumors of wars. Kingdom against kingdom. Nation against nation. Famines. Pestilences. Earthquakes. Christians hated, persecuted and killed. False prophets and false Christs deceiving countless people. The love of many growing cold, (24:4-12). The “beginnings of the birth pains,” Jesus said.
AIDS. EBOLA. ISIS. Convert or be made shorter by a head. Not just in Iraq and Syria but even in Oklahoma! Entire ancient Christian communities in the Middle East are being slaughtered and eliminated one by one. A soldier guarding Canada’s hallowed war memorial is murdered in cold blood. Gunshots erupt in the halls of Canada’s Parliament. Converting to Islam and taking part in jihad in Syria to establish a tyrannical and totalitarian Muslim caliphate now appears to be one of the coolest things for a Western European or North American to do. We live in the last days.
Purple clerical “Christian” bishops and eye candy torn jeans “Christian” mega pastors abound. They play fast and loose with the Word of God. Everything is up for grabs. You name it. Ask them. Is Scripture the inerrant and inspired Word of God? Is Jesus God in the flesh? Did Jesus rise bodily from the dead on the third day? Does the death and blood of Jesus make atonement between God and man? Is God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Is marriage only for a man and a woman? Is heaven for real? Is there a hell? “Primitive superstitions one and all!” they say. Or it’s all just too controversial to grow a mega congregation so they avoid or deny such clear biblical teachings. We live in the last days.
The mayor of Houston, Texas, in an outrageous abuse of political power subpoenaed the sermons of various Houston clergy. Free speech? Religious or political? Not with her majesty! Christian pastors are excluded from the First Amendment in Houston. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. Prepare to suffer even more from the politicians who act like they are omnipotent divinities. It may come very soon that Christianity will be illegal and criminalized. In other words, if you confess Jesus as Lord you will go to jail, a reeducation camp or receive a lethal injection – for the “good” of society. We live at the end of time.
Revelation 14:6-7 speaks of what the church is given to do in these grey and latter days. She is not to despair. She is not to compromise. She is not to give up.
Check it out. “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth – to every nation, tribe, tongue and people.” Did you hear that? The angel, that symbolizes the church, has the everlasting gospel. Why? Well, the gospel is to be preached! That is her sine qua non! Her task.
And the church preaches the gospel to … SINNERS! You, me, the members of our congregation and “those who dwell on the earth … every nation, tribe, tongue and people.” Yes, sinners need the preaching of the gospel. Sinners qualify for the gospel! Sinners need salvation. In John’s day, the 1500s and today. And that’s precisely what the preaching of the gospel brings and gives!
The gospel saves or gives salvation to sinners because it preaches and gives Savior-of-sinners-Jesus! Jesus died for all. For every sinner and for every sin! Can you name any sinner for whom Jesus didn’t die? Well, can you? I didn’t think so. Now, tell me, what sin did Jesus leave out of His dying? That’s right. None!
Salvation has been Good Friday-ly won! Once – for all! Jesus did it. Achieved it through His bloody death as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth! So it’s as Jesus says: “If the Son sets you free [from sin and sin’s damnation], you are free indeed.” Or as St. Paul says: you are “justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God set forth” as the sacrifice that atones for all sin and every sinner.
Consequently, because of Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the church loudly and audaciously proclaims to the world, to all the pretend divinities and all their false and imposter gospels: “Fear God and give glory to Him for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”
A triple play of verbs! “Fear God, give glory to God and worship God.” That too is the message the church loudly proclaims to the world and to you.
These are serious verbs. Eternal life or death serious verbs.
I’m hear to tell you as well as the entire world that if you don’t fear, glorify or worship God as God – that is to say, if you stubbornly refuse to believe that God is FOR YOU in Bethlehem Baby Jesus and FOR YOU for your salvation in the Good Friday Grave Yard Dead On The Cross Jesus, then the “hour of His judgment has come” right now in my preaching. If you or anyone else for that matter in the world steadfastly refuse to receive Christ’s divine Good Friday forgiveness preached and bestowed in the absolution, sermon and Sacrament of the Altar, then God’s wrath remains on you and you are still in your sins. And you’ll soon see that hell is for real. It’s really that simple.
But the church proclaims the “eternal gospel.” It’s eternal because it has to do with the age to come as well as with the present age in which we live. This gospel that proclaims and gives Jesus is the opposite of the “gospels” of the false prophets and pretend divinities in John’s day, the time of the Lutheran Reformation and in ours. False gospels are fleeting and fading and they lead, if followed, to eternal condemnation (14:11).
The church calls in a “loud voice” so that everyone on the earth including you can hear, repent, believe and live. And know for sure that heaven is for you and that it is for real!
So I’m here to tell you too: “fear God and give glory to Him … and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” All three of those verbs can be spelled this way: F-A-I-T-H! That’s done as you believe that God is FOR YOU in Jesus who died for you the sinner. When you believe that all your sin has been answered for in the divine blood of Jesus. That what Jesus says in the Sacrament of the Altar is absolutely true: given and shed FOR YOU for the forgiveness of your sins.
As often as you eat the bread of His body and drink the wine of His blood you proclaim His death FOR YOU and for the world until He reveals Himself in glory on the Last Day.
The proclamation of the everlasting gospel is itself a sign of the impending end of all things. Just as Jesus says in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to the nations, and then the end will come.” We live in the last days. We do not despair. No time for compromise. In these last days we will give witness that Jesus alone is Lord against all the false idols, false prophets and pretend divinities as we “fear God, give Him glory and worship Him.”
See you next week and every week for that very thing.
In the Name of Jesus.