ALL SAINTS’ DAY – NOVEMBER 3, 2013
TEXTS: REV 7:2-17; 1 JOHN 3:1-3; MATTHEW 5:1-12
SEE WHAT KIND OF LOVE THE FATHER GIVES YOU IN
THE SON’S CLEANSING BLOOD AND GIFT OF HOLINESS
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Dear saints of God (holy ones) in Christ Jesus our Lord; today we name our dead who are yet alive in Christ Jesus - today we pointedly and purposely and gratefully recall that the church is not limited to our time and place!  To the degree that the Church Triumphant becomes unreal to us to that degree we lose our perspective on reality.  Jesus leads you to recall that unseen realm every day as you pray on earth as it is in heaven.   Holy be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done – on earth as it is in heaven.  Every week the communion liturgy leads you to join your voice with that of all the company of heaven.


Are you saintly enough to join in that number?  Do you move forward in daily life secure in the hope of the bodily resurrection – your body - immortal and imperishable?  Are you confident in your holy standing - certain that if God called you from this earth later today you would be welcomed into His presence in paradise?  The world cannot help you gauge your answer to that question.


The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Neither can you gauge the answer to that question by how blessed you may feel.  Blessed are the poor in spirit - those who mourn - those who are persecuted.  Such persecuted beggars aren’t always feeling blessed by God.  You can only gauge the answer to that question by looking to Christ.  That’s what the apostle John was doing as he wrote his first epistle.  See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God, and so we are.

 

The word translated “what kind” implies astonishment at something far beyond expectations.  See “what kind” of love the Father has given to us!  Dear Christians – the love God lavishes upon you is unique because it is not deserved by you.  It is spontaneous, unmerited, creative love flowing from God to the Christian – to you!  The Holy Trinity is full of active, agape, steadfast, loving kindness.  His love does not count the cost.  His love found you who sought Him not.  His love is revealed in the flesh of Christ - whose blood cleanses us from all sin.      

 

 

ALL SAINTS’ DAY – NOVEMBER 3, 2013
TEXTS: REV 7:2-17; 1 JOHN 3:1-3; MATTHEW 5:1-12
SEE WHAT KIND OF LOVE THE FATHER GIVES YOU IN
THE SON’S CLEANSING BLOOD AND GIFT OF HOLINESS
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Dear saints of God (holy ones) in Christ Jesus our Lord; today we name our dead who are yet alive in Christ Jesus - today we pointedly and purposely and gratefully recall that the church is not limited to our time and place!  To the degree that the Church Triumphant becomes unreal to us to that degree we lose our perspective on reality.  Jesus leads you to recall that unseen realm every day as you pray on earth as it is in heaven.   Holy be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done – on earth as it is in heaven.  Every week the communion liturgy leads you to join your voice with that of all the company of heaven.


Are you saintly enough to join in that number?  Do you move forward in daily life secure in the hope of the bodily resurrection – your body - immortal and imperishable?  Are you confident in your holy standing - certain that if God called you from this earth later today you would be welcomed into His presence in paradise?  The world cannot help you gauge your answer to that question.


The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Neither can you gauge the answer to that question by how blessed you may feel.  Blessed are the poor in spirit - those who mourn - those who are persecuted.  Such persecuted beggars aren’t always feeling blessed by God.  You can only gauge the answer to that question by looking to Christ.  That’s what the apostle John was doing as he wrote his first epistle.  See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God, and so we are.

The word translated “what kind” implies astonishment at something far beyond expectations.  See “what kind” of love the Father has given to us!  Dear Christians – the love God lavishes upon you is unique because it is not deserved by you.  It is spontaneous, unmerited, creative love flowing from God to the Christian – to you!  The Holy Trinity is full of active, agape, steadfast, loving kindness.  His love does not count the cost.  His love found you who sought Him not.  His love is revealed in the flesh of Christ - whose blood cleanses us from all sin.  


See “what kind” of love the Father has given to us!  John writes, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (4:9-10)  The quality and quantity of God’s love is incomparable.  Twice in this epistle the Holy Spirit caused John to write God is love (4:9; 16). 


Love is not merely one of God’s characteristics!  Love is what He is!  God is not a nit-picking accountant!  God is not a distant, fickle avenger!  God in His essence is love – love so great that none is greater (John 15:13)!  For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).  By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers (1 John 3:16). 

 

See “what kind” of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are…Beloved we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  Even now you are His child – His holy one – His saint!  What God calls you – you are!  Believers are not just named “children of God but are actually reborn as His children – actually fathered by God as new beings (2 Cor. 5:17) – taken up in His love.  See “what kind” of love the Father has given to us! 

 

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared…John’s confession of apostolic ignorance is the same as that of Paul who said that now we know in part but when we see Him face to face we will fully know as we are fully known - (1 Corinthians 13:12).   John continues, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  There comes a day when the elusive – the hidden will be seen – the wonder of what you and Jesus are together.  You won’t be Him, but you will be like Him!  You will still be yourself – but you will be like Him!  You will be whom God created you to be – whole and without sin!  You will be whom God redeemed you to be by the blood of Christ and fashioned according to the brightness of His resurrection!  Fully and forever you will be whom God baptized you to be! 


Who are these in white robes, and from where have they come?”  “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.  They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.  His blood cleanses – washing white!  Christian holiness is a gift received from Him - the Lamb of God.  The culmination of His forgiving and His giving of holiness is a celebration that never grows old – not victory for a season – victory for eternity.


The current struggles of your life – the sickness or suffering that shadows you - the tribulation that presses in on you does not mean your robes are not white.  In fact Scripture states that it is “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).  Jesus described a great tribulation immediately before His return (Matthew 24:21-30 and Revelation reveals that Satan will then be loosed for a short time (20:7).  But in our text the verb is a present participle – meaning “the ones who are coming out of the great tribulation.”  It means that Christians are continually emerging from the tribulation of this world and adding to the multitude in heaven.  That would include Donald and Ervin and Myron and William and Mona and all who are called from this life in Christ.


Every Christian faces tribulation?  The root word means to be pressed down - hemmed in – under pressure.  Which of you is immune from pressure – the pressure of unending daily duties – of Satan’s scheming temptations - of a world that does not know you as it did not know Christ – of your sinful nature set on loving things that vanish while refusing to receive the kind of love the Father gives you in Christ.  Every Christian, on campus, at work, at home, experiences dark periods of struggle and suffering - serious threats of sickness - circumstances of loneliness and loss.  Every Christian lives under the pressure of time and of death.  But thanks be to God, we are coming out of these pressures – we are journeying through them to a time and a place that John describes this way: Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.


You know something of how Jesus is – having flesh and bones – even after His resurrection.  You know how the Word became flesh and dwelt (tented) among us full of grace and truth (John 1:14).  That very same word is used to describe how God will dwell with us in heaven.  He who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.  The Greek literally states that he will spread His tent over them just as Jesus became flesh and pitched His tent among us.  See “what kind” of love the Father has given to us!


This picture of the saints with God forever indicates the warmth and intimacy of a family dwelling!  It indicates that God will dwell with us in a manner experienced also with our human senses.  God’s people – including you - will live in the flesh with God in the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:3).  Your real eyes which now shed tears over your sins and that of others - over the ruin and destruction of this dying world - in sorrow over the absence of loved ones – your real eyes will have no tears as God tents with you forever.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes!  Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.


John beheld the great multitude, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.  They were crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  That’s the new song of heaven.  Are you saintly enough to join in that number in God’s eternal presence? 


No greater comfort can be given to us sinners than that our salvation is due totally to God’s grace.  Indeed – Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who see they possess no personal claim over against God, who can only plead for His mercy and receive everything as a gift in Christ.  Even the listing of the Church Militant – the church yet on earth bears testimony to the Lamb.  The 144,000 who are sealed are listed by 12 tribes of 12,000.  They picture the Church throughout the entire New Testament period.  You are in that throng at this time in history.


These 12 tribes are a redefined list – not as listed in the Old Testament according to birth order or allotment of the Promised Land.  Judah the fourth born – is listed first (the tribe from which our Lord comes).  The tribes of Dan and Ephraim (both tainted by idolatry and apostasy) are missing while the tribes of Levi and Joseph are added.  This heavenly listing bears testimony to the Lamb’s cleansing blood.  It shows the church sealed and ready for action in this world of tribulation.  This sealing of the 144,000 on their foreheads is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacrament that keeps believers in God’s baptismal grace and protects them in Godly hope. 


God leads through suffering – not around it!  Here the warfare continues.  God comfort you with His sealing work in the dark times of life and in the face of death.  God comfort you also with His care of those in His nearer presence.   With Him is perfect rest and peace and pleasure.  Therefore today we name our dead who are yet alive in Christ – those called from this life since a year ago.  We name them with thanks and praise to God for His grace.  To do so is not escapist – not a flight from reality!  To do so is to acknowledge what is real and eternal as God tents with His own forever in the flesh of Christ crucified and risen and reigning at God’s right hand.  See “what kind” of love the Father has given to us!  Amen!  Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever!  Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a