Our Savior Lutheran Church

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What about..... the Bible
"Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.The Bible continues to be the best selling book of all time. Throughout the ages,the Bible has provided inspiration,comfort and guidance to those who have read it.But is the Bible merely an inspirational book? It is this,but so much more! Let’s spend a few moments reviewing some important truths about the Bible.  (more)

— Dr.A.L.Barry
President The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

"Come Listen"

     Nevertheless, they would say that the balance on the scale still leans in their favor. After all they’re no worse than anybody else, and in their view most people are pretty good. Then there are those would feel pretty good about their chances based on the fact than they’ve been pretty religious. In fact, Jesus even notes that those who look at the works they do for the church as reasons that they ought to be in the Book of Life. In Matthew. 7, we learn that there will be those who say, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in Your name… and do mighty works in Your name?’

            Yes, when it comes to determining who should be in the Book of Life, it can happen that we look within ourselves to find some reason to be among those written in that Book. All too often, that is the way that the world works. Those who excel, those who show they have something to offer, those who have made a name for themselves, those whom the world thinks are the best in society- these are the ones who get invited. And therefore it is all too natural for us to think that is the way it is with God as well.

            And yet, for the one who would turn his or gaze in on one’s self, there can really be no better advice than that one should look to see if you still have flesh and blood, and see what the Lord has to say about that in such places as Romans, chapter 7, where the apostle himself writes about the great gulf that frequently exists between his best intentions and what he actually accomplishes. He writes not about his life before his conversion, but there in that chapter he writes about the struggle that exists as he tries to live in faith and he says, “The good that I would I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I do.”

            And certainly, what is true for the apostle, is also true for each and every one of us. Again, in our hearts we say, “I know, but…” And yet, there are no buts. Our problem is that as individuals, we too often think of sin as only those actions which are manifest for all to see. However, it is always interesting, in reading the lists of evil or works of the flesh that along with such open and manifest works such as murder and adultery, the apostles often list sins such as being unthankful, or being headstrong, or a backbiter, having hatred in one’s heart, or struggling with jealousy. Furthermore, the Lord cites lack of trust in God and complaining. Yes, where we focus only on those readily visible outward manifestations, the Lord see into our hearts and our minds.

            And as we know, there is where the problem lies. It’s that deep, down inside, we’re really not so good. We struggle with temptation, we wrestle with sin. Like Peter, when he first met the Lord, we have to admit that we are sinful and that He really should have nothing to do with us. No, we don’t deserve to be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The fact of the matter is that none of us deserves to enter the wonderful feast of God’s salvation or dwell in the midst of His eternal presence.

            But this is what is so wonderful about God’s gift of eternal life. It’s that it is really God’s gift. Eternal life is not entered into by our merits or worth or our works. And thankfully it is not based upon simply the whims of God; for certainly, no one could ever have confidence in that.

            But rather, as we learn from the Word of God, it is based completely and solely upon the worth of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. John brings this out by noting that it is only those written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Yes, our salvation and entrance into heaven all comes down to the Lamb. Yes, through the sacrifice of Christ there is entrance into heaven. For there upon the cross the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, was offered up as a sweet smelling offering to the Lord. There upon the cross, He endured the pain of the punishment which we deserved, and by His stripes which He endured, He washed away our sin and clothed us His righteousness.

            And yes, through this Gospel your name and my name have been written into the Lamb’s Book of Life. No, it hasn’t been because we have been innately more righteous than others that our names are in the Book of Life. This because clear when one carefully examines the Greek text. Most translations of verse 21 say that “there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, etc., but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” It gives the impression that anyone who has been false or anyone who has been defiled therefore cannot enter into eternal life. There is a little more nuance to that, the transition there. The Greek does not say, “but only,” instead, it says, “except.” “There shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, etc., except those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

            Yes, in this you and I see the greatness of God’s grace. John’s point is that even as the people of God  we are never without sin. That doesn’t sin right; nor that you or I should be unconcerned about it. But John’s point is to comfort our hearts and minds by the fact that our hope and life and salvation rest completely on the sacrifice which Jesus made.

            For the people of John’s day, this great truth had to be a tremendous comfort. In the face of their struggles- and especially of the martyrdom of one of their own- that even martyrdom could not take away the life and salvation which Christ had won upon the cross had to be a great source of strength. The world could take away our earthly life, but it could never take away what God had won for us in Jesus. Yes, the martyr would rise- as would all who are in Christ- to live in that heavenly kingdom city where no evil could reach them again.

            For us also, these words of John also bring hope and comfort to each and everyone of us. For here our Lord reminds us that everything regarding our salvation has simply depended upon Him. Having our name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life hasn’t been a matter of chance and it hasn’t been dependent upon our personal worth.

            It is simply the application of the work of Jesus Christ to you. Through the call of the Gospel, through Baptism into Christ you and I have been added to that number who are to enter into that holy city. And through the call of the Gospel, through faith in Christ, the Lord keeps us as His own.

            Yes, thankfully, the Lamb’s Book of Life is all about grace. It’s not a who’s who in the world. It’s not a guest registry based on our worth.

            Rather, it is the Book of God’s grace. simply noting those who look to Christ for their forgiveness and their salvation. Yes, through faith in Him we shall enter to eat the feast in the kingdom which has no end.

            Yes, it is all by grace- which is precisely why our salvation is so certain.

                                                                                                Amen.

May 26, 2019

Pastor Jeff Berndt

Sermon Draft:  Rev. 21: 22- 27

            Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Savior- Jesus Christ.

            The Word of the Lord for our meditation this day is a portion of the second Reading, recorded in Rev., chapter 21, beginning with verse 22, where we hear: “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

            We are all aware of situations where it is necessary to have your name on the list if you want to gain entrance. It can be as simple as having reservations at a popular restaurant. At other times it might be at a reservations at a hotel or for an airline flight. In some of these cases, your name not being on the list may only mean having to wait for a table to open or going through the reservation process.

            However, there are other situations, such as a state dinner, where it is necessary for one to have had an invitation if one is to enter at all. Some occasions and celebrations can be rather exclusive, where the festival or celebration is only for those who are approved for entry. At such occasions, any attempt to enter in by someone not on the list will result in being turned away. Moreover, anyone trying to sneak in uninvited might find him or herself hauled away.

            Yes, one’s name must be on the register. And as we learn from the last verse of Revelation 21, the same can be said for those who enter into heaven. To rephrase that verse, “There shall by no means enter it… but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

            But then, how does one know? Is this some secret, hidden book of God? Is this some guest book that God simply makes on a whim? Or is this book more like a list that God is checking- and finding out whose been naughty or nice? It better not be, or else it will be a very small book.

            Nevertheless, it happens that many people think they are good enough to enter into heaven. They think, “Of course my name is in the Book of Life. I haven’t done anything wrong.” “I haven’t killed anybody. If there’s an afterlife, of course I’m going to be there.”

            On the other hand, there are those who would admit that they have stumbled along the way. Maybe they could have worked harder at being a good spouse or parent, they’ll admit that. Maybe he or she could have gotten along better with siblings in the family or the in- laws.       

 

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