Knowing God Perfectly from Joel 2
10 February 2016
+Jesu Juva +
Lenten Catechetical Theme: Knowing God Perfectly!
When the day of God’s wrath and forevermore hellacious judgment comes who will be able to stand? When the day comes when there will be no more time for repentance and faith, no more time for confession and absolution, no more time to worship Jesus as Lord, no more time for fasting, weeping and mourning, who will be able to stand?
The prophet Joel preaches a mighty promise FOR YOU from the Lord. He’s given to preach the Lord’s Word. So that Israel and you know God perfectly. Here’s how. Listen. “Return the LORD your God,” Joel proclaims. Why? Well, it is because God “is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
Knowing God perfectly is when you believe that God is gracious and merciful TO YOU. Slow to anger WITH YOU. Overflowing with unfaltering love FOR YOU. God gives. He gives salvation. He justifies you, His sinners, for Jesus’ sake. For your sake, Jesus who knew no sin, was made to be sin so that you have the righteousness of God. God is in the business of forgiving all and every sin and the whole lot of sinners. He did a Good Friday to prove that. “God so loved the world….” All of Lent and all of life for that matter are about believing! Believing to expect and receive salvation from the Lord Jesus Christ!
So now is the favorable time. Now is the day of salvation. To all and to you! No more putting off God’s grace and mercy. Don’t let anything get in the way of you being given the LORD’s steadfast love in Good Friday Jesus. Do not receive God’s grace in vain. Stop justifying yourself. Seriously! No more excuses. Quit putting on airs! Tell the truth. You are a sinner. Confess your sin. Turn your back to it. After all, your sin is seriously shocking. Your sin is grossly grotesque. When God shows you your sin and just how nasty and monstrous it is, it makes you sick to your stomach. You don’t want to eat. Tears flow from your eyes. You cry. You grieve.
So, turn from your sin and turn to the LORD. Repent and believe. I “implore you on behalf of Christ: be reconciled to God!” That too is Joel’s sermon on this Ash Wednesday. “Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning,” the LORD says through preacher Joel. “Rend your hearts. Return to the LORD for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
Joel would have you know God perfectly. After all, your salvation is at stake. To know God perfectly is to expect true and lasting treasure from heaven: salvation FROM GOD in Jesus Christ! To know God perfectly is to receive true and lasting treasure from heaven: salvation FROM GOD IN Jesus Christ – the forgiveness of sins!
LORD Jesus, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary has redeemed you a lost and condemned person. He has purchased and won you from all sin, from death and from the power of the devil. How did LORD Jesus do all that? Not with gold or silver but with His Good Friday holy, precious blood and his Good Friday innocent suffering and death.
What, then should you expect to receive from God because of Jesus? It’s simple. Joel puts it perfectly. You are given to expect and receive God’s mercy, not God’s anger — God’s grace not His wrath.
Expecting and receiving God’s steadfast love is spelled: F-A-I-T-H! Faith receives what God gives sinners. Faith boldly expects divine grace and mercy for Jesus’ sake. What Jesus said in the gospel is absolutely true: “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” (Mt 6:21). Jesus is your treasure. He died FOR YOU. In Good Friday Jesus God, “is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Expect to receive it. He promises it. Especially tonight in the Sacrament: “Eat. Drink,” Jesus says. “This is my Body. This is my Blood. It is given and shed FOR YOU for the forgiveness of your sins.”
In that promise you know God perfectly. The way He wants to be known. God FOR YOU. God FOR YOU in Jesus. Good Friday Jesus – made to be sin in order to give you His righteousness.
Have a blessed Lent.
In the Name of Jesus.
”The Creed properly follows, which sets forth all that we must expect and receive from God; in short, it teaches us to know him perfectly,” (Formula of Concord, Large Catechism II.2 in Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, eds., The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000], 431).