November 22, 2015
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
The Lord’s given many promises about His Word. He’s given us promises about His Church. He’s told us the benefits of His Word. He’s told us the blessings of His Church. Our God preached through Isaiah in Isaiah 41, “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” And He Himself preaches it again in our Gospel lesson, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” Jesus, your God, preached in another place, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against My Church.” The Church will always be a light on a hill, calling sinners to repentance and faith in Jesus. The Lord’s Word will endure forever. Even as the Eternal Word spoke it, so it must endure. This means that the Holy Christian Church will endure. There’s no reason to worry about it. She must endure. Why?
THE LORD’S SENT OUT HIS WORD AS A LIGHT TO THE NATIONS.
Now, when the Lord sends out His Word, His light to the nations,
(I.) He sends it out through means.
We see that most clearly in our text from Isaiah. Isaiah was a prophet, sent to preach the Lord’s Word to the people of Judah. He preached repentance. He preached faith in the coming Christ, the one who would be born of the Virgin, whose name and office will be “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” He preached the one who would be “despised and rejected by men,” who would “carry our sorrows,” who would be “wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities,” “by whose stripes we are healed.”
The Lord clearly sent out His Word, which is “a lamp to our feet and light for our path,” through all His prophets. “In many and various ways, God spoke to His people of old by the prophets. But now in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.” Jesus, who is the Word of God and the Light of World, preached the Word. He brought it to the people of faith, but also the Gentiles. As we’ll sing shortly, He is truly “a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel.” He made Himself known to them through His presence and Word, His preaching, and He makes Himself known to us through His Word and through being present with His body and blood.
Now, as the Lord has sent His Word out through means in the past, He’s still doing it that way. He does it through His Church. She’s a light standing on a hill. She’s the bride of the bridegroom, Christ, and she makes known the love and promise of the Savior through the Word and gifts the Lord gives within her through His called and sent ones, His pastors. He does this so that we may obtain faith, and “for this reason the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given, who works faith, when and where it pleases God, in those who hear” the proclamation that Christ died and rose fore you. And because of that, practically speaking, we encourage our men, young and old, to become pastors. For then faith is given in the way that Jesus, our God, has set up. These men go all over the world preaching, proclaiming, baptizing, forgiving, and giving Jesus’ body and blood. But even all Christians must be ready. You must be ready “to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you,” as St. Peter says. Why doesn’t an evil world full of violence get you down? Oh, we may grieve, but we still have hope. Why? Jesus’ cross and empty tomb. That’s why! And so we’re always ready to speak of Him who died and rose not only for you but for all.
Now, this brings us to our second point about the Lord sending out His word as a light to the nations. When He sends it out,
(II.) He sends it to all.
That’s what we hear from the Lord through Isaiah. First he says, “Give attention to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation.” The Lord calls His people of faith, His Church to hear His Word. This Word isn’t just for one age group over another. It’s for young and old. As our God says in Deuteronomy, “teach My Word diligently to your children.” There need to be children to teach this Word to! As the Lord says elsewhere, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” This is God’s desire for us to have and care for children that will become His children. His children through Baptism, and through the diligent reception of His Word. This is a Word that isn’t just for the young, but it’s a Word which sustains faith all life long, which is why we also need times to study God’s Word together, here in Church but also in our homes.
Now, after speaking of His people, He talks about how His Word is for all. “For a law will go out from me, and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples. My righteousness draws near, My salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait.” His Word isn’t just for some but for all. He sends it out through His pastors, but also through all Christians. For children and children’s children can bring more into the faith, as Paul says, “the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband.” His Word for all, of all ages, through means, even in the home.
Now when the Lord sends out His Word, He sends it out to all because
(III.) He sends it out for salvation.
Listen again to what He says through Isaiah, “for a law will go out from Me.” This isn’t just “law” but it’s instruction. It’s His Word! For when He sends out His Torah, His Word, “My righteousness draws near, My salvation has gone out.” He sends this saving and righteousness-giving Word to everyone in a fading world. “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner.” The world may fade away, but there’s no reason to fear, as we’ve already heard Jesus promise, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”
But it’s more than just His Word not fading or passing away. Listen to what He says: “My salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.” Christ’s salvation is forever, and it’s for everyone. It can’t be otherwise for you. Christ was dismayed even unto death, but now He lives again forevermore. Now He gives you His righteousness and salvation. For “anyone who has been baptized into Christ has been clothed with Christ,” and He’s our “righteousness.” As Jeremiah preached, “This is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” His salvation and forgiveness is sealed upon you with the body and blood given you in His Supper. We gather to receive what He’s giving. “The coastlands hope for him, and for his arm they wait.” We all gather here because we hope for His salvation, which He freely gives.
THE LORD’S SENT OUT HIS WORD AS A LIGHT TO THE NATIONS. He’s given it through His means. It’s for all: young and old. And it gives us the salvation He won for us by His death and resurrection. There’s no reason to worry. The Lord’s Word will endure forever. Even as the Eternal Word spoke it, so it must endure. This means that the Holy Christian Church will endure. There’s no reason to worry about it. She must endure, and she’ll endure in the ways Jesus gives her. Water, word, body and blood given to you and for all.
INI + AMEN.