The Festival of the Reformation
“Fear God and Give Him Glory”
October 28, 2018
Sermon Text: Revelation 14:6-7
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of the Lord,
It is the vision of John… St. John… what he is given the great privilege of seeing as to what is, and what is to come… that which will take place and is taking place throughout these latter days in which we live… in this time between Christ’s ascension into heaven and His glorious return on the last day.
Let us then, under the gracious guidance of the Holy Spirit, consider for a few minutes what John sees and hears. And this in two simple passages which, interestingly enough, clearly present the two key messages that we find in all of Holy Scripture… namely, Law and Gospel.
We could not pick a better day to do this than on Reformation Day. For you see, the key blessing of the same… of what came out of the Reformation… was the bringing into full light once again the Gospel of Jesus Christ… that which sinful men, churchly men no less, hid from the people… from the masses for so many years.
They hid it because the Gospel is freeing and they were all about controlling… something that the Law of God could be used to do just that… by twisting it… by using it to their advantage.
And so, what was preached and taught about God… what the masses were told… what was drummed into their heads and what brought fear and trepidation to their hearts (Martin Luther’s and many others)… was that the Almighty was ever demanding…
… that He constantly needed to be assuaged, appeased, pleased by the doing of good works… works of penance for one’s sins… works attached… works required… if there was to be forgiveness of one’s transgressions…
… works… their works… if they were to be spared the flames of hell… if they were to be freed from purgatory and eventually enter into heaven. Indeed, the message was clear – “It is up to you.”
How all of this flies directly in the face of God’s Word. How it flies directly against what St. John tells us. We read, “Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.” (Revelation 14:6)
How wonderful is that! That which is fact. That which is happening now and throughout these last days… these latter days… the proclamation of “Good News” being delivered to people… to those who dwell on earth.
The Good News of Jesus Christ… the Good News that He, the very Son of God and also true Man, born of the Virgin Mary, took upon Himself our sins and that of the entire world on the cross…
…. that He bore the tremendous weight of the same on the cross… that He felt the full righteous wrath of God in our place… for our sins… that He paid for them all on the cross… that He blotted them all out with His Holy Blood on the cross…
… with the result that we are free, truly free, completely free of every spot and stain… forgiven for every transgression… by HIM… by Christ alone… and no other… certainly not by us… not by our works in any way or part.
Forgiveness, life and salvation is God’s free gift to us in Christ Jesus!
THAT is what the Reformation once again brought to light… and that is what was preached from the pulpits of the Reformation then… and still today… right here… right now.
Forgiveness, life and salvation… God’s free gift to you… to me… to all… in Christ Jesus. It is good news… the best of news… the Gospel news.
John saw this “angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim.”
The word “angel” in Greek means messenger. And thankfully the message continues to go out… proclaimed, preached and taught.
Thankfully, God continues to raise up messengers to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Nothing will stop it from being proclaimed in its truth and entirety… not pope, not priest, not any charlatan who calls himself or herself a pastor or a prophet. The word of the Lord will endure forever. You heard what John saw! The angel with an ETERNAL gospel to proclaim.
Yes, there will always be those who will try to hide the same, pollute the same… misuse and abuse it… God’s Word, that is… both Law and Gospel. But we have that Word! We have Holy Scripture to read on our own… to pour over, learn and refer to… which will always be sufficient in letting us know the truth and in pointing out every error and heresy… every false doctrine that comes our way.
And make no mistake about it my friends… as the time grows short until the day of judgement… Satan and those whose hearts and minds he controls, will only intensify their attack on God’s Word… on God’s Church and on God’s people.
They will only intensify their attack on the Gospel… on the Good News of Jesus Christ. And we have certainly seen this play out in the past months and years and the situation before us today.
Let’s be honest with ourselves and realistic. It has always been “open season” on Christians… on the Christian faith… on the Christian Church… and this by people who do not fear God… who do not give him glory. Rather, they glory in themselves.
But there is more to come, the Lord our God tells us in His Word and especially in the Book of Revelation. More trials and tribulations. More… many more situations where the people of God… Christian men, women, teenagers and children, including you and me, will have the opportunity to stand up for the faith… to confess the faith… or renounce the same… deny the same… walk away from the same.
What will it be?
Today we celebrate what so many brothers and sisters faithfully… fearlessly… did so many years ago by the power of the Holy Spirit working mightily in them to preserve the truth… to preserve the faith… keep the faith.
But that was then… what about now? That was them… what about us?
“Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6-7)
Fear God and give Him glory… this we do by the Holy Spirit working mightily in us. This we do by what we do in the various vocations God has seen fit to give us. This we do at every age and stage of our lives with the help of the Spirit.
The very same Spirit who illuminates each and every glorious page of Scripture and enlightens us to the same… including our coming to know… to realize and recognize that the hour of God’s judgement has indeed come… that it is already being exacted in so many ways… His wrath already being poured out upon this unbelieving, stiff-necked world. All leading up to the great and final judgement on the last day which quickly approaches.
It is a day that, for us, holds no fear or consternation. For we have heard the eternal Gospel and believe the same… hold on to the same. We believe and hold tightly to our Savior… Jesus… in whom we have forgiveness, life and salvation. Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“Fear God and Give Him Glory” 10/28/18 The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL