Sermon Date: November 2, 2015
Sermon By: Pastor Dale Raether
Scripture: Revelation 14:6-7
Here We Stand!
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. If you had to decide between denying Christ and living or confessing Christ and being killed, which would you choose? We pray we never have to make that choice. But if we did, how wrong would it be if denied Christ, and as soon as the bad guys are gone, asked God to forgive us, and then everything would be back to the way it was? It doesn’t quite work that way. If Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had tried that, instead of doing what they did, they would have immediately noticed a difference inside them. The Holy Spirit gives us forgiveness, peace, hope, joy, and comfort. All this would have left their hearts, and they would have been filled with guilt, gloom, and a dread of God’s judgment. And, yes, they could have asked God to forgiven them, and for Jesus’ sake God is merciful. But they would have carried the consequences of what they did in their hearts for as long as they lived. Now, all this said, there’s an even more important reason why Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood firm in their faith. It’s what believers do.
Martin Luther is another example of someone who stood firm. He had proclaimed that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, based on Scripture alone. But like the three men in our Old Testament reading he was given a choice. Deny that, or be burned at the stake. Not knowing what would happen to him or when, he told the court: Unless I am convinced of error by the testimony of Scripture… and since my conscience is taken captive by God\'s word, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us. On this I take my stand. I can do no other. God help me. This morning the Lord is calling us to join believers from every age and say with them: Here We Stand! 1. Here we stand as God’s Children. 2. Here we stand as messengers of the Gospel.
1. Here we stand as God’s Children.
While Luther did not love God, from eternity God loved Luther. And so, from infancy God was watching over Luther and guiding his life, though at the time Luther didn’t realize it. Anyway Luther got a reputation for being someone, who had a very sensitive conscience. His superiors gave him a job that they thought would make Luther too busy to be thinking about his conscience. He was to give lectures on the Book of Romans at the University of Wittenberg.
There in the first chapter he found the peace he had been looking for all his life. It says: In the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written, “The righteous will live by faith.” – Romans 1:17 Notice, righteousness or being declared right so we can live with God comes from God Himself. God reveals this righteousness in the Gospel. Now when you hear the word Gospel think: the good news that God the Son was righteous in our place, and the full strength of God’s anger at our sins was poured out on Him instead of of!
Earlier when I was talking about hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of you were just about ready walk out. I’m thankful you stayed. We don’t like hearing about hell, but we need to, because then we can know that as great as God’s anger is at our sins is, His love for us in Christ is double that. And so, through Christ God not only declares us fit for heaven, he likes us and enjoys spending time with us as his friends.
And now this brings us the second meaning of “fear God”. The first meaning, again, is to be afraid of His judgments. The second meaning is to have such respect for Him, because of His love for us, and because of His blessings, and because of His promises, that we repent with sorrow of our sins and ask Jesus to cleanse our heart, so that our very hearts can be a heaven on earth for Jesus.
Think about that! Jesus, whom all the infinite universe cannot contain, and who enjoys all the glories of heaven all the time, wants to make our hearts his dwelling. Is this what you want? Then count yourself dead as far as sin goes, and let Him be your Savior, and decorate your life with deeds of love that are pleasing to Him. But how does a sinner get to this point? Such fear, love, and trust, again, come from God through Word and Sacrament. By these means God made us spiritually alive, and all who are born of God are destined for victory!
It’s with this attitude that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell into the flames, and you heard what happened. With this same attitude Luther faced being burned at the stake, but he wasn’t! Instead he became a messenger of the Gospel, so that we’re still talking about the Reformation 500 years later. We, too, are destined for victory, but now it’s our turn to be messengers of the Gospel.
2. Here we stand as messengers of the Gospel
Our text reads: Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. – Revelations 14:6 I don’t have to tell you that Satan is attacking the Gospel with everything he has. In Luther’s day, he mainly attacked the Gospel by saying that God’s grace has to be earned. For your information in the 1700s Satan attacked the Gospel by saying faith isn’t enough, that we also have certain feelings and live a certain way. In the 1900s Satan began attacking the Gospel by saying the Bible is not reliable, and that truth evolves, just like man supposedly evolved. Lately Satan has been attacking the Gospel all three ways at once. As a result, anyone, who believes salvation is by the grace of the Triune God alone is accused of being intolerant toward other religions. Or, anyone who says salvation is through faith alone is accused of unloving, because they say we don’t need faith, we just need to be tolerant. And anyone who believes that the Bible is word for word the Word of God is made fun of for being an unscientific ignoramus. Because so many are swallowing what Satan says, hook, line and sinker, Satan has come out more with persecutions and glorifying every kind of evil. Yet do not be afraid! Satan is already condemned, and even the smallest Word of God sends Satan fleeing.
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