Monday, August 26, 2013

Aug. 24-25,2013

Title: The Lord will gather you home … in Christ you are saved!
Text: Luke 13:22-30

29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

The story is told of a new bank president who met with his predecessor and said, "I would like to know what have been the keys to your success." The older gentleman looked at him and replied, "Young man, I can sum it up in two words: Good decisions." To that the young man responded, "I thank you immensely for that advice, sir, but how does one come to know which are the good decisions?" "One word, young man," replied the sage. "Experience." "That's all well and good," said the younger, "but how does one get experience?" "Two words," said the elder. "Bad decisions."

Today In The Word, November, 1989, p.23.

When you think of the bad decisions you’ve made in your life and how you might approach those decisions now from the experience you’ve gained, it is comforting to know that even though you remain dead in your sin, Christ has made you alive and:

The Lord will gather you home … in Christ you are saved!

22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem.
As we’ve discussed over the last few months, Jesus was resolute on His way towards Jerusalem. He was not running there but was diligently going on about His business to get there. Along the way He did what He loved to do … teach!

As was the case with Jesus and His teaching and what happens often when teaching through the Bible, questions come to mind. Such was the case here. As Jesus went about His business someone in the crowd of followers who had been accompanying him says:

 23 … “Lord, will those who are saved be few?”

Seems like a reasonable question. Who will be saved and how will it be determined? Again, as has been the case before, Jesus uses this question to answer and teach. The question might have been asked differently though, not so much, “will those saved be few”? But, will I be among them? This is how Jesus answers this important question.

And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

To those who see salvation as a cooperative act, it might seem to them that this work of striving is the work they do to enter in through this narrow door. Christ is the door of entrance and we can know this from the epistle of St. John the 10th chapter where Jesus says in verse 9:

9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

Those who enter in do so by faith in Christ. Those who cannot enter have been trying to make their own way and the key they’ve been trying to use to unlock will not open the door because the key is faith in God’s only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself.

So Jesus gives this example in illustration:

25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’

What a harsh reality. The door will not open. No pleading, no solution, a bad decision that has no happy ending … though the experience learned is written in the bible for our learning … at the time of judgment some will be excluded for lack of making use of it. The Word of God and the working of the Holy Spirit have been active … but rejected.

Some here at Peace reject God’s gift too. They make little attempt to hear God’s word and reject His gift of faith in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. How sad to think that they too might hear, “I do not know where you come from.” To all who reject the gift of faith might not the cry be:

26 … ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’

The riches of temporal blessing and success or mere apathy blind the way to the cross for many.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said:

The figure of (Jesus) the Crucified invalidates all thought which takes success for its standard.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Because as George MacDonald said:

"In whatever man does without God, he must fail miserably or succeed more miserably"

Warren W. Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991, p. 42.

Don’t you see that whatever you do as a means to find justification in work, acts of love and caring, success in life, charity are nothing that can open the door to eternal life.

28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.

Those who hear Jesus hear the words of eternal life. Faith is created and the Kingdom is theirs. Those who in their sinfulness look to other means to open the door to salvation, apart from the means of grace of word and sacrament that God has ordained, will find the door locked and they themselves cast out.

Sobering to think about? You come to church … but only go through the motions and fail to trust the promises of God. Some have even stopped coming at all, thinking life too short or their life’s too busy for making time on Saturday or Sunday to be in worship. Especially, in the summer when the weather is so nice, like last weekend, and I too was even tempted to stay home and get a jump on the work I needed to do around the house. But Monica and I went to St. Augustine in Troy for their 11:00 am service to see my friend Paul and Pastor Paul Monson. Pastor Monson was on vacation but I had the joy of hearing his father Pastor Emeritus John Monson preach.

All the Emeriti pastors always bring a great message, as I’m sure you all heard here last week yourselves with Pastor Merrell handling the duties. But, I noticed at St. Augustine just as here at Peace, there seems to be a drop off in attendance during the summer months. Some, go away to the cottage, some attend elsewhere … if out of town, some get drawn away into the joys of summer and some … just lose interest and don’t come at all. Sad but true, and to some, who’ve been given the gift of faith by the working of the Holy Spirit will find no faith at all, in that day because it has died to the ways of the world.

But Christ still comforts:

29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

The truth is that some will not enter because of lack of faith. Jesus tells the people that the door is opened by faith and He is that door. Trust in him is the key and it is the gift of faith which you can not earn but is a gift that is given freely by God’s Spirit so that you and all who believe can enter in.

Pastor Matt Harrison in his sermon at the National Youth Gathering referenced Martin Luther when he said:


Luther says that all of us come to church as poor, miserable sinners with an empty sack.  We have nothing to give God.  We confess our sins and receive forgiveness – in the blessed absolution, a gift from God, which we put in our sack.  Over and over in the service we receive gifts: grace, mercy, love, the Word of God … A multitude of blessings!  All of these gifts go in our sacks.  We leave the service with a sack over-flowing with good gifts from God.  We take our gifts home, and we share all the goodies we received with our neighbor!

God gives His gifts to you. He forgives you. He blesses you and you receive His gifts from his word and through His sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. This He freely gives … to you. And He calls you to come, as you are to His house because you are His child and He wishes to bless … you.

God’s grace is nothing you deserve; it is nothing you can earn; and it is only received by faith in the finished work of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. And you have been given that gift of faith in Christ and you receive His forgiveness in Christ and you are His Child in Christ and you will enter through the door that is Christ Jesus … because of His call and work in you.

The Lord will gather you home … because, in Christ, you are saved!

As the sermon Hymn, so beautifully reminds us to:

Listen God is calling; Through His word inviting.
Offering forgiveness, comfort and joy!

To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence, without fault and with great joy - the benediction from All God’s People Sing says in comfort to us.

To which the congregation responds:

To the only God, our Savior, be glory, majesty, power and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forever more.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you all now and forever.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.


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