Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sermon for August 13-14, 2011

Trinity 8      August 13-14, 2011    Matthew 7:15-23

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

We need to let these words have their way with us. The common view of heaven is that all decent people go there when they die. It is not so. It is not the repository of all the dead minus truly heinous men. It is not even the abode of most of the dead. Most men in this world do not cry to Jesus, “Lord, Lord.” And without Him, apart from His Name, no man enters heaven. It does not matter how pious or sincere or good a Muslim or a Bhuddist or a Mormon is. No one comes to the Father except through the Son. There is no other Name under heaven by which men are saved. But worse than that, not even everyone who is baptized, everyone who calls “Lord, Lord” enters into the kingdom of heaven. Who enters? Only those who do the will of the Father.

Repent. Heed the warning. Sin is a wily seductress. She corrupts the hearts of men. She turns fathers and husbands into craven, lying, sneaks who seek their thrills in the dark and destroy their children and their wives. It is not merely the arrogant, or the rich, or the weak, who are susceptible. It strikes the Ministers and Laity, men and women, adults and children, rich and poor. It turns them inward, fills them with anger, lust, and greed. It never delivers. It never satisfies. It only breeds discontentment while hardens consciences with multiple excuses.

Repent. Pornography kills. Gossip destroys. Pride crushes all virtue. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Repent. Now is the hour of Salvation. Tomorrow it may be too late. Repent.

No man can stand against the Law. It is a standard, a demand, too perfect and holy for us. Any comparison we make with our lives is damning. It always accuses us. For we are fallen, sin-infected men. That is why we are tempted to try and abandon the Law or make up new Laws that are easier to keep. But that does not remove the Law’s condemnation. It is just another excuse. It is just a temporary delusion that will be stripped away in Hell’s fire. Repent.

And notice this: those who are saved, who are entering into the kingdom of heaven, are not saved by saying, “Lord, Lord.” They are saved by Our Lord saying, “You are forgiven. Take, eat. Go in peace.” They are not saved because of what they have done, prophesying, casting out demons, or performing other wonders. Those who are saved are passive. They do not save themselves, they are saved. They are saved by the Lord. He is the Actor and rather than them crying “Lord, Lord,” they hear Him calling their names.

Where can those weary of the Law’s demands and their failure find rest? Where is help for those who cannot help themselves, who are accused and dying? Rest here, ye weary ones, in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He has come into the world and taken up your Flesh in order to fulfill the Law for you. He has not come to condemn or to accuse you. He has come to save you. He has reconciled you to the Father. He has declared you righteous. Not for any merit or worthiness or faith in you, not by your calling our “Lord, Lord,” but from His Fatherly, Divine mercy and goodness alone. He has intervened on your behalf. He has called you by name, brought you to Himself through the waters of Holy Baptism. He has planted and nourished your faith. He pardons your sin, removes your guilt, and welcomes you into the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, into His kingdom.

The will of His Father for you is that you turn from sin, repent, confess, and throw yourself upon His mercy. The will of His Father for Our Lord is that He go to the cross as a sacrifice for your sins and that His love wash and cleanse you until you are as Holy as He is. It is not His will that you pay for or even answer for your sins. The Lord has answered for you. His will is that Jesus do your work and pay your penalty so that you would get the benefit and reward. Those who do the Father’s will, that is, those who are washed in His Blood, who eat and drink the gift of the Holy Cross, the cup of wrath turned to the Cup of Blessing, they enter and abide in the Kingdom of heaven. By grace they call Him, “Lord,” but only after He has called them by His Name. You are there now, in the kingdom. For behold, he Kingdom of heaven is within you. It is Jesus Christ. You are His Temple, His chosen vessel. Jesus Christ abides in you and will not let you go.

Sin is dangerous and it is frustrating. Living by faith is a gut check, a test of patience and endurance. Lawlessness is always a temptation. It tries to tell us that we Christians are missing out, being denied something, that the pleasures of the flesh could be ours and could satisfy us. We aren’t having as much fun as we might. But it is a lie. The girls in the pictures aren’t interested in you. The people at the bar aren’t your friends. Your mistress doesn’t love you or she would not be destroying your family and hurting your children. You need the Law to have its way with you. You need to be accused and exposed you so that you would see your desperate situation for what it is and cry out to the only One who can help you, the only One who does love you, the only One who saves: Jesus Christ, Our Lord. You cry not, “Lord, Lord, look what I have done, casting out demons and performing wonders,” but you cry out, “Lord have mercy!” Our Lord wields the Law for the sake of mercy. He is like a shepherd sending out the dogs to drive the sheep into the pen. Anyone who waits on Jesus, who trusts His Word, is like a man who built his house upon a rock. The Law, sin, death, and hell cannot wash it away and all their vain threats and violence ultimately make us ever and every more aware of the foundation.

The kingdom of heaven is here by grace and for your eternal good. Come and eat what the Lord gives and receive strength and faith to face the enemy and carry on where He has placed you.

In + Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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