Archive for the ‘Luke 2:22-35’ Category

Are Ya Saved?

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

First Sunday after Christmas, December 26, 2009
Rev. Brian Henderson-Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
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INTRODUCTION: “Are ya saved yet?” Have you ever had a well meaning Christian ask you that question or something similar?  Usually when they ask you a question like that they want you to recall some specific moment in your life when you knew for the first time that God loved you.  They seem to want to evoke some kind of emotional response from you as proof that God really saved you.  Well if you are like most truthful Christians you will probably find yourself struggling with an answer to this well meaning but misdirected Christian neighbor. 

This morning, we will be looking at the life of Simeon, the man in our gospel reading (Luke 2:22-35), to get a better handle on God’s meaning for the word “Salvation”.  I believe that by the time our message is complete this morning, you will see that the correct answer to the question “Are ya saved?” is: “Yes, I’m saved; yes I’m being saved; and yes I will be saved!” 

I. Yes I’m Saved: Let me ask you a question—Before Simeon saw baby Jesus in person, was he saved?  What I mean by that is, did he have the assurance from God’s Word that He was loved by God, and that he would receive God’s peace and forgiveness?  Before you answer, let’s look at verses 25 and 26 of our gospel reading: “Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon Him and it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” [Luke 2:25,26] 

Good old Simeon!  Have you ever heard or used that expression to describe someone?  Good old Bruce!  Good old Susan!  When we use those words, usually what we mean is that person in no one remarkable, their just ordinary but dependable people.  Usually they’re just like you!  And that was Simeon—good old Simeon.  In the world’s eyes he was no one worth calling attention to; he was just a man, one of many that seemed to always be at God’s house.  There was nothing great and wonderful about him; he had no high office; no authority or power, yet God called him a righteous man; that means friends, that God judged him worthy of salvation.  The Jews would simply say that he was devout, devoted to God’s Law and temple, but so what!  He is simply doing what everyone should be doing!  But God said, “Oh no!  He is far more than just a church-goer; he is a true child of Abraham… he is a man of faith!”  

Why?  What did God see in Simeon that others missed?  Friends, God knew that Simeon was anxiously awaiting and praying for the consolation of Israel… the coming of the Messiah.  Who was the Messiah?  He was the one foretold throughout Holy Scripture who would smash the head of Satan, by destroying the power of sin, death, and the devil.  He was the one who would restore man’s lost relationship of love with God their Creator! 

Simeon, like many people of faith who had gone before him, trusted in God’s forgiving love simply because God’s Word promised that very thing!  Simeon knew that no one deserved God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness, but if God said it then it was so!  That’s why Simeon was righteous in God’s sight, because he trusted or had faith in God’s Word.  Because of this faith, God saved him from his many sins.  But that’s not the end of Simeon’s faith story. 

In verse 26, we learn something even more amazing: “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”  Are you amazed by this?  Good!  The work of God’s Holy Spirit should always amaze us!  Are you desirous of this experience?  Why?  You have the same promise that he had.  In your own baptism, God promised you that through the water and His Word, the eyes of your heart, your eyes of faith would be opened and you also will behold the Lord’s Christ!  Will you rest in that promise?  In your baptism you have been given Christ and the promise of salvation—peace with God.  Every day, God shows you His Chris so that you can say with Simeon…. 

II. I am Being Saved! Verse 27 of our gospel continues with these words: “And he (Simeon) came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God.” [Luke 2:27]  Now, let me pause here and say that up to this point, you are no different than Simeon.  You too were filled with God’s Holy Spirit at your baptism.  You too, are able to hear that same Spirit speak to you through God’s Word; and through that Word you too can lift up Christ in your heart.  And you can also receive Him in your hands at His Holy Table and bless God as He blesses you through the eating and drinking of His body and blood in, with, and under the bread and wine.  Like Simeon, you too are promised by God that you can see His Christ, and behold, you have seen Him through the means that I have just shared with you! 

And like Simeon friends, God has put a song in your heart!  Let’s sing Simeon’s song together, before we talk about your song.  Simeon’s Song is the Nunc Dimittis, which in Latin means “Now Dismiss”.  “Lord, now let your servant depart in heavenly peace, for I have seen the glory of Your redeeming grace; A light to lead the Gentiles unto Your holy hill.  The glory of Your people, Your chosen Israel.” [Luke 2:29-32; LSB #211 vs. 1]   

Friends, unlike Simeon, our song, our personal testimony to God’s faithfulness will never be recorded as Holy Scripture, but in God’s eyes it is every bit as holy!  You see, it is your story… your testimony about how God met you in the waters of Holy Baptism and saved you from this evil age.  It is the story about how every day His own Word assures you that nothing can ever separate you from His love; not your sins, not your death, and not even the devil.  It is the story that explains that even if others give up on you, God is always your ever present hand in times of trouble saving you from anything that seeks to separate you from God’s love, which is yours through Jesus Christ!  So, you see friends, God has saved you and He is saving you, but there is still one more truth for you to proclaim; you must tell them… 

III. God Will Save Me! Friends, when you give your testimony to others, give it with certainty because that is how God makes His promise of salvation to you.  Let those who hear your testimony marvel as Mary and Joseph marveled at the words of prophecy Simeon spoke.  But don’t let them marvel at your faith but at the reason for your faith—Jesus Christ… God’s only Son your Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary; who suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was crucified, died, and was buried for you!  Don’t hold back; tell it boldly like Simeon did, listen: “And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” [Luke 2:34,35]  

Dear friends, when your well meaning Christian neighbors try to invoke a personal or emotional salvation story from you, send them and your own heart to the same place God through Simeon’s testimony sent mother Mary… send them to the cross!  Center all hopes there alone!  Tell them this: “I know that I will be saved only because God’s Word is true and that Word promises that because of Christ’s suffering and death upon the cross I am forgiven.”  Tell them that you have no experience to share that could ever be greater than our Lord’s cross.

Sadly friends, some will not want to hear your testimony; they will tell you that just your baptism and the cross are not enough, but don’t listen to them… don’t let them shake your faith in Him who is faithful.  Remember that it was by His stripes alone that you were healed… saved from all manner of sin!  This simple truth has always caused many people to fall away from God’s love, but it is also the reason that many WILL rise up and be saved.  When people choose to reject God’s grace alone, and add their own devout living or their emotional experience, they are only demonstrating their unbelief in God’s means of grace, and if they won’t abandon that false hope they will fall and die in their sins.  But, if through your witness they see God’s work of faith in your life through His means of grace… His Word, Holy Baptism, and the Supper, then perhaps, they like you will know the certainty of God’s love and salvation.  Then they can also say along with you, “I will be saved!” 

CONCLUSION: “Are ya saved friend?”  Yes, I was saved long ago in the waters of Holy Baptism when I received the washing of the Word.  I am being saved every day when I read God’s Holy Word, hear it preached and taught—when I hear my pastor speak the sweet Words of absolution, the very Word, which assures me that my sins are forgiven.  I’m also being saved when I approach His Holy table and eat and drink His very body and blood for the forgiveness of all of my sins.  And I will be saved because just as Jesus rose from the dead on the third day and ascended into heaven, I too have been promised that when I close my eyes for the last time in death I shall join my Lord Jesus Christ in paradise forever.  Tell them, “That’s my experience, brother.  It’s an experience of faith.  It’s an experience of wonder and awe!” 

Dear friends, let me close with the words of the great hymn, Chief of Sinners Though I Be: “Chief of sinners though I be, Jesus shed His blood for me.  Died that I might live on high; lives that I might never die.  As the branch is to the vine, I am His and He is mine. [LSB #611 vs.1]  We sing the Nunc Dimittis (Sung) In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost…AMEN!