Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
Ever since the Garden of Eden, the Lord Jesus has done things a certain way. Well, actually, the same way. What He does today, He did then. What He did then, He’ll continue to do, even till the Last Day, Judgment Day. Then the Lord will do forever what He’s always done.
Ever since the Fall into sin, mankind has also done things a certain way. The way it’s been done is the same today as then, and it’s opposite of what the Lord has always done, still does, and would continue to do in and through us.
The Lord always does things by way of Gifts and Promise. We do things by way of works. The Lord’s gifting way is selfless. It’s completely, 100% selfless and self-giving. Our way is inherently selfish—looking out for us, or those people, things, or causes that we like and are meaningful to us.
The Scriptures show us God’s selflessness. He does things that are against His own self-interest, even His own life. He’s crucified for people who turn from Him, hate Him, kill Him. Gift and promise alone. We give only as long as we get something out of it. Some people get more us, get more effort, more patience than others. It’s all works. This, of course, should not be the way of things. This is what it means to be sinful—turned in on myself, selfish.
((2. We naturally turn Judgment Day into “works’ day”.))
So, it’s natural for us to turn the Last Day into something that it’s not. To look at it in a way that’s different from what the Lord says that it is. We look at it through the lens of works.
That’s how goats think. They’re the ones who care about their own works, and if you care about your works, you end up caring about other people’s works, too. You know exactly how you measure up, and you know how they measure up. You know how you’re better than them, how they’re better than you.
You’re nicer. More generous. More forgiving. You like the Lord’s Word or Sacrament more. You’re more sorry. You’re a better farmer, sibling, student, citizen! A better fill in the blank. You even do it for the Lord! Goats know all about that. Of course they do! Goats are GOAT, after all. The Greatest Of All Time. Always at something, and if not greatest just give me more time. That’s Old Adam’s way. “I can and will be the best: the best parent, the best spouse, the best whatever, the best Christian out there.”
But all those works don’t cut it. “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” If you want it to be about works, then you will come up empty. Actually no good works to speak of. Just sins. Just evil. The DVR of your life chock full of you. And as they’re being carried off the goats are crying out: “What do you mean, Lord? That’s not true, Lord! I’ve got plenty of good. You’re mistaken. We did so much for you. ‘When did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’”
((1. The Lord’s Judgment Day is “gift day.”))
But Judgment Day isn’t really about works, at all. How can it be?? “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” How can your works of this temporary life have anything to do with an inheritance that ready for you when the Lord created the universe?
The sheep know nothing of their own works. They love and serve their neighbor because their neighbor needs them to. The sheep don’t know they’ve done them. The Lord knows. They have no bad works to speak of. They only have good on their DVR of life because the Lord’s blood covered them and their works. It’s His blood that makes them good works.
Judgment day is the day the Lord Jesus, the Son of Man, King with His Father, will gift the kingdom to His sheep. He prepared it from the creation of the world for them, and on the Last Day He gifts it to them according to His promise and not according to their works. He as always works by Gift and Promise and not by works.
The sheep have all eyes, all ears on Him. They look to Him, to their Shepherd. They trust that He is the Author and Finisher of their trust in Him. He delivers all good things to them, all salvation to them through His Word and Gifts. They trust He’s died for them, that His blood covers them. They trust He’s made them His sheep. He’s washed them. Purified them. Holied them. That He alone gives them all they need for His Kingdom—His body and blood for them.
The Lord brings up their works. Works they know nothing about. Even that’s gift from Him. They do them, of course. But the Lord doesn’t work by the works of sheep but by the Gift and Promise of His Works for the sake of the sheep. The goats bring up their own works. They know who’s doing them, who’s not, who’s doing them better, who’s not, who’s preaching them, who’s not. Goats don’t do things by promise, at all, but only by works.
So, Judgment Day. We’re afraid of it. Why? Old Adam, your flesh turns it into works’ day, but the Lord wants it to be gift day. He always works by Gift and Promise. From creation to eternal life, it’s all gift from Him. Gift of salvation, gift of the kingdom given to you. Fonted, Preached, and bodied and blooded to you, to make you a holy sheep, with holy works—because He made them that way for you and through you.
The Lord does all for you. Died and rose. And He seals and delivers that to you and to all through His Gifts. That’s how He works. By Gift and Promise. He would work through you. That’s all gift, too. It’s His way. Not just today. Judgment day, too. You can turn it around to be about works, but that’s how it is with the goats. Not so the Lord or His kingdom. THE LORD’S KINGDOM IS A KINGDOM OF GIFT FOR YOU.
INI + AMEN.