Let us pray: Dear Savior, although You have left us physically by ascending into heaven, You have not left us alone. For we have Your divine presence with us everywhere at every moment. We have Your forgiveness present through Your Word and Sacraments. We have the Holy Comforter to console us when evil intrudes into our lives. And for these blessings we give You our thanks. But, today we still pray: Come Lord Jesus, Come quickly to rescue us from this valley of tears and sorrow. Likewise, give us the strength to bear this cross of human, earthly life, until You deem the time is right. For our times are surely in Your capable hands. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST THE LORD OF COMFORT AND HELP
TEXT: Rev. 22: 12-17, 20
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
Did you ever notice how people often use the exact same words, but mean something entirely different? If asked: “How do you feel?” You might answer: “Fine.” Or, “Fine!!!” One means: “I’m o.k.” The other means: “I’m having a rotten day!” When I get my hair cut, at least once during my time in the shop I hear an inane: “O my God.” Which honors neither God nor the person misusing His name. But here at church, “O my God!” is a bold confession of Him, isn’t it? If you talk to people about their need to worship Christ and base their lives around His eternal truths as found in the Bible, you may hear a mocking: “Come, come now.” Whereas on the basis of our text, we turn them around and say to Christ:
COME! COME! NOW!
Come! Come! Now! Is a call for Christ. And its urgency has never been greater. Christ says in our text that outside of His invisible kingdom, His Church, are “the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or even a trained theologian to see that such people also have infiltrated the visible church today. And they seek to betray Christ and kill souls, your souls, with their falsehoods and misuse of traditional Christian terms. O such people are often well-intentioned. They believe they are right and are on the correct track. But, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Judas had good intentions in betraying Christ. Pilate had good intentions in sentencing Him to death. And those who stoned Stephen certainly had good intentions. But, they lost their souls because they refused to listen to and bow to God’s truth.–To Jesus Christ and forgiveness through His blood alone.
Many years ago I had a discussion with a student attending school in Boston. He had attended a seminar on campus entitled: “What is Christianity?” Which was sponsored by various local chaplains. Two of those chaplains: an Episcopal minister and a liberal Lutheran woman minister attacked the historic faith and denied Christ as the only Savior from sin. Later, he talked to them, and expressed his concern. I quote from minutes of that meeting: “I felt that in our discussion, she attacked my faith. I believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God, and as such is His written revelation to us. She said that having such a view of the Bible was idolatry. She said that such a view holds the Bible higher than God and limits God. She said that when people tell her that the Bible is the ‘inspired inerrant and infallible Word of God’ she goes crazy because she cannot deal with that view. I asked her what she thought the Word of God is. She said that she does not even think in those terms, so she could not answer such a question. She said that it is obvious that the Bible contradicts itself. She said that the Genesis accounts of chapters one and two contradict each other, and that the gospels give contradictory accounts of the life of Christ.” Later in the conversation she also said: “God’s will for us changes with the times and situations we are in.” Also, the idea of God being in control of everything came up. The Episcopal priest said: “No, I don’t believe God is in control of everything. He lost control when He gave us freedom. Also, ‘He would not presume to say that faith in Christ was necessary for salvation.—He believes that the Bible is ambiguous on this subject.”
Now, these folks use religious terminology that we all know and accept, but they empty those words of meaning. We may say: “Come! Come! Now!” and they say: “Come, come now…” And as a result souls are hoodwinked and lost to hell, betrayed by their innocence. The need has never been greater to call for Christ to come. To come to save us—not just from the gross evil and immorality of this world, but from living a lie that many supposed shepherds preach and teach. And thus, today we thank God that Christ meant it when He said: “I am coming soon!” He is coming to judge people on the basis of “what each has done.” And because by His grace we have dipped our robes in His blood, our deeds are purified and forgiven. Our words and actions are made perfect. We are saved through faith alone in Christ, because trusting in Him makes us pure in His sight. Today, we are surrounded by the cross of unbelief. And because of that, we cry, without fear: “Come! Come! Now!”
Those same words are also a call to Christ! A call issued by the Spirit and the Bride, by the Holy Spirit and by His creation, the Holy Christian Church, the invisible group of believers. “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come! And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”
Today, God the Holy Ghost and His Church here at Pinewood, from the little ones to the elderly, call you! You’re invited to: Come! To actively pursue the salvation of your soul by feeding it each week on the bread and water of eternal life, that is Christ’s forgiveness. What we offer, by God’s grace, isn’t a lie. It isn’t a figment of our imagination. It is Christ’s eternal love and help. Why can we be so sure? Because God’s Word is clear. God’s Word doesn’t lie. Everything we say or do is based on a clear statement of Scripture. We don’t seek to change the meaning of His Word. We simply take it as it stands.
Eternity is long time. It is timeless. Do you really want to bet your soul on finding Christ outside His kingdom? Do you really want to swallow the lies that many others are handing out? You know, there are only two religions in the world: faith and works. Either Christ saved you completely and you believe it, or you must do something to save yourself. So, what will you bet your soul on?
This morning you confessed your own sinfulness. You confessed that you can do nothing to please God on your own, nothing to merit heaven. And your conscience knows this to be true. That’s why your conscience so often condemns you when pride rears its ugly head in your life. So, why not listen to your Savior? Why not face life and death knowing beyond all doubt that He is in your corner? Why not make His words, your words?—”Yes, I am coming soon!” Come to Christ and be saved! Yes, Come! Come! Now! Amen