Archive for the ‘Exodus 3:1-15’ Category

You Need to Know!

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

24th Sunday after Pentecost C, November 7, 2010
Rev. Brian Henderson—Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
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Our starting point for this morning is this portion of our Gospel reading: “Now He is not God of the dead, but of the Living, for all live to Him”. [Luke 20:38]

Is the resurrection important?  You bet it is, because you see without it we are all lost and left with no hope and life is meaningless.  Without the resurrection we do not have an all-powerful, all knowing, and all present God.  If God cannot defeat death then He cannot defeat sin and the devil.  Without the resurrection then Jesus who is God in our flesh did not rise from the dead, and if Jesus did not rise from the dead then we are lost and without hope.  No friends, you need to know that your redeemer lives, because if you know this and believe it you are guaranteed that you will live with him!  But there are those who will laugh at our faith in the resurrection.  But take heart little ones of faith, because your Savior has already dealt with these type of people!

In our gospel reading we join Jesus being confronted by a group of Jewish philosophers known as the Sadducees.  As a group, they denied the resurrection because it required faith instead of logic.  In their world view, there was no place for angels, spirits or the resurrection.  They wanted a form of Judaism that was secular and rooted to the world; in effect they were humanists!  So as humanists, they brought to Jesus what they thought was a conundrum designed to destroy faith in the God of Scripture.  They brought to Jesus a brilliantly thought-out question that was designed to make both Him and the scriptural doctrine of the resurrection seem ridiculous.  They quickly turned to Moses and God’s law (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) as a weapon to destroy both hope and faith.  With Moses as their starting point, they created a hypothetical woman whose husband died and left her childless.  As dictated in Deuteronomy, the man’s six brothers all married her as well in order to propagate a legacy for their brother, but alas they all died as well as finally the woman.  “So now” they asked quite pleased with themselves, “at the resurrection whose wife will she be?”

Jesus answered them in a way not designed to be clever but simply truthful.  He reminded them that the reward of a heavenly resurrection was something for only those who are “considered worthy” [v. 35].  Then Jesus taught them that in heaven, there is no marriage, as on earth, because all are married to God!  The worthy, or the saints are in a sense, like the angels in that they are equal to them. [v. 36]  And now Jesus takes a hold of the double edged sword that they used against Him and He beats them with the flat portion of it.  “Here is the truth you faithless men!”  Your Moses that you love to quote, at the burning bush was told and wrote for you that God called Himself “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”.  These men, though dead in your eyes at the time of Moses, still served the living God.  He was still their God!  So He is the God of the living and not of the dead, for “all live to Him.”” [vs. 37-38]  This morning we will discover that for those of us who believe in God’s Word and trust it, death will be a glorious moment when we enter a life as such that we have never known or could imagine!  But to come to this understanding we must look at three things.  We must look at death, then the resurrection of all human life, and then the importance of the resurrection.

It only makes sense that in order for there to be a resurrection of physical life there must first come a physical death.  Death is something we don’t really like to talk about or even consider, because it scares us!  Why is that?  I think that it’s because we don’t have a proper Biblical understanding of death.  You see, we must remember that the death of our flesh isn’t a total destruction of who we are but simply a separation of our physical body from our soul.  Jesus spoke of this in His parable about the greedy man who God declared to, “This night your soul will be required of you.” [Luke 12:20]  When Jesus Himself died upon the cross we read in Matthew that He “gave up the ghost”! [Matt. 27:50]  And finally in Ecclesiastics we read, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” [Eccl. 12:7]  So we see clearly that life, our life continues after the death of our flesh.  But why must our flesh die?  Our flesh must die because of our sin!  You see, God did not create man to die; no we were never intended to be subject to death, and that is why we have a natural horror of death.  Death was a part of God’s threat as punishment for sin, and our first parents dared Him to make good on that threat, and God did! [Gen. 2:17; 3:19] 

So death entered into the world by sin and the wages of sin is death! [Rom. 5:12; 6:23]  It was God who imposed the death penalty but it was man who desired it.  So now we live and die by the will of God! [Deut. 31:14; 2 Kings 20:1-6; Job 14:5]  God chooses to terminate our lives in many different ways and at different times, but make no mistake everyone dies as a result of sin! [Ps. 90:7-9]  But your death dear Christian is not the same death as those who die outside of faith in Jesus.

Even though you still bear the outside consequence of sin, just as other people do, there is a huge difference between you and them!  For you, death has lost its sting [1 Cor. 15:55-57]; God has forgiven all of your sins because you have faith in His only chosen remedy, His Son our Savior Jesus Christ!  To you who walk by faith, death is not a punishment, but a deliverance (2 Tim. 4:18), it is a change for the better!  So by God’s gift of faith you are being taught by God’s own Word to overcome your natural fear of death so that you can depart this vale of tears in peace.  But for those who live without faith, they die without hope so they fear their death! While they lack proper evidence to believe in a resurrection, in their heart they know that death cannot destroy their conscious existence and personal identity.  They know that who they are is too strong to simply vanish.  This is why almost every civilization has taught and believed that there is something after death.  But where do we go after death?

Holy Scripture teaches that there are but two choices… paradise and hell!  For you dear Christians, you need only know that you shall be in paradise.  Our Lord said to the thief on the cross, “Today you shall be with me in paradise.” [Lk. 23:43]  St. Stephen said confidently at the hour of his death, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” [Acts 7:59]  And in Revelations we are assured that whoever dies in the Lord is blessed from that point into eternity. [Rev. 14:13]  Everyone who dies shall remain in either heaven or in hell until the Day of Judgment, when they shall be reunited with their own bodies.  And that shall be the time of the resurrection.

The resurrection is the rebirth of all flesh at the second coming of Jesus Christ.  It is the time of judgment for those who do not know Jesus by faith as their Savior.  Does it surprise you to know that they too will rise?  Scripture itself assures us of this truth.  In Matthew chapter 10, Jesus himself announces that all of the unbelievers will in body and soul be banished to eternal torment. [Matt. 10:28]  And at the resurrection, the eternal destiny of each person will be announced, but make no mistake, it was decided at the time of death.  Either a person dies in Christ or they die outside of faith in Him, but at the resurrection everyone shall be gathered up!  On that last day, Christ will appear in all His glory, He will raise the dead and will judge the world in righteousness.  He will come in the clouds of heaven, and then send out His angels to gather all of the living and the dead; this will be the end of the world as we know it, but it is also the beginning of a new existence for us. Jesus will resurrect each person for a purpose, and that purpose is either to reward faith or to punish the lack of it!

Who will be judged?  Everyone will!  It doesn’t matter whether they want to submit or not, they will appear and they will be judged!  Oh some thought they were clever when they were alive, living as if God did not see, as if God didn’t exist, but they will appear on that last day and they will be judged! [2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10-11; Matt. 25:32; Acts 17:31; 2 Tim. 4:1]  No one will be overlooked and no one can escape.  In fact, even the fallen angels, those vile creatures we call demons will be judged on the last day.  But don’t fear this judgment dear saints, because you unlike those who rejected the gift of faith in Jesus Christ will not be judged by God’s perfect law!  Your Jesus will not judge you according to the Law of Moses because that would make His precious work upon the cross and the work of the Holy Spirit meaningless.  No dear saints Jesus will judge you by the law of grace; He will find you trusting in the faith He gave you as a gift and He will call you friend.  “He that believes… will be saved!”  [Mark 16:16; Jn. 5:24; 2 Thess. 1:7-10]

Dear friends, the resurrection is either something we believe and look forward to, or it is something we reject, fear, and deny.  If by faith we believe that God’s Word is true and that through Jesus Christ there is something wonderful waiting for us after death, we will not be disappointed.  Instead we will be lifted up out of death and our bodies will be recreated out of the narrow limitations of this sinful world, and they will be made sinless and perfect so that we can finally live as God intended us to live… in a relationship of constant praise and love for our Creator.  This is the age to come that Jesus speaks of.  But if a person dies outside of faith in Jesus Christ, they will not have the same experience.  Instead for them, they will be raised in the same body just as us, but the afflictions of sin will still remain, and in fact it will be intensified.  They will always know of the pure love of God but they will never experience it.  They will always know that there is a Savior, but He will never be their Savior.  They will suffer and they will continue in suffering forever!

So hold onto your faith in the resurrection; it’s the key to your very salvation.  Because you see, if you do not believe in the resurrection then you can’t believe in an all-powerful God; if there is no resurrection then that means that God is unable to conquer sin, death, and the devil.  Without the resurrection Christ did not rise from the dead, and if Christ did not rise from the dead then you have no savior!  No friends you must not let any man or devil rob you of your faith in God’s promised resurrection, because it proves that God is the God of the living and not the dead.  Through Jesus Christ, death has suffered a deathblow and redemption from sin, death, and the devil has not failed.  Our Lord Jesus Christ will come again and gather us together with Him.  You really do need to know that your Redeemer lives, and because He lives so shall you always live with Him!  Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”  In Jesus name… AMEN!