Text: 1 John 3:1-3
2 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.
We live to die … and die to live.
For Lutherans the celebrating of the Reformation and All Saints Day are back to back on October 31 and November 1. This past week that occurred on Wednesday and Thursday. It has been our tradition here at Peace to celebrate these days on their observed weekends so the Reformation was celebrated last weekend and All Saints Day this weekend. In past years I’ve used the first reading in Revelation or the Gospel reading in St. Matthew for the sermon text but this year if was the Epistle reading in 1 John that caught my eye.
3 See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
As we think about the love of God, this love it is made known to us in the God man Christ Jesus our Lord, the perfect son, begotten of the Father from eternity. But it is not in the incarnation that our hope is found, though God becoming man put into history the perfection of God’s redemptive plan to restore all that had been lost and broken by the fall into sin.
Paul in writing to the church in Corinth laments:
22 For as in Adam all die, 1 Cor. 15:22a
The world and all people are brought forth in Adam. We are all brought forth in sin and death awaits us all. The life we live for good or bad gives us only what this life in Adam gives – life - for a time.
At times there is joy, and at times there is sorrow, and at times our hopes and dreams in this life culminate only in death and a separation from those we love and hold dear.
But, Paul doesn’t leave his hearers or us in despair for he concludes this verse with these comforting words:
… so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Cor. 15:22b
We are made alive in Christ, not in Adam.
In Adam the sin of the fall clings to us from birth. We see it throughout our lives. We die, not to receive heaven, but because –
… the wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23a
Paul loves to proclaim life eternal because it is what we are all guaranteed.
In Adam though that guarantee is an eternal life separated from a loving God.
This is NOT good news!
To die apart from Christ means that you will never see or hear the great multitude, 10 crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
But in Christ, Paul comforts the burdened heart saying:
But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23b
That life eternal begins not upon our death - but at our Baptism when we are born again from above!
In Baptism we are marked as God’s child and put on Christ through the washing of water and the word. Titus 3:5
By the working of the Holy Spirit in Baptism we believe in Jesus and our life in Adam is changed forever. We are no longer dead in sin but are made alive in Christ!
As the Apostle John writes in our epistle for today:
2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when [Jesus] appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
We shall see him - this Jesus - not as a terrible and wrathful judge ready to condemn us for our sin, but as only begotten son of the Father who sees us in through the veil of Christ and is well pleased. The favor of God on account of Christ is yours – not because you have lived a good life, but because Christ Jesus has lived, suffered, died, and rose again from the dead – for you and me and for all who hold this blessed hope.
All Saints Day brings to mind loss as well. We don’t have to look very far to see an empty space when a beloved member of Peace once sat. In life we are all destined to die and in death those who have gone before us leave a void in our own lives where they had been present.
We also think of our loving friends and family members who have departed this life for eternity, returning to their resting place as we wait together for the Lord’s return. In Adam we all die and we will all rise at the coming of the Lord but only in Christ are we to be with the Lord forever.
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 15 55b-56
While we mourn the passing of our beloved friends and family members we also joy that their promised eternity is in Christ!
We live to die
They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
… and die to live.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.