Photo by Joshua Eckstein on Unsplash
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Saints. Disciples. Children of God. Same difference. They are all labels for the same group of people. “Saints” are “holy ones.” “Disciples” are “students, followers.” Children of God. Well, that’s pretty self explanatory, I think. But those titles (saint, disciple, child of God) are all talking about those who believe in Jesus alone, that He alone saves them through His death and resurrection.
Saints are holy through this faith in Jesus. Disciples follow Jesus, learn from Him because they believe in Him. And children of God, well, are that because that’s what God calls them, and they receive that blessing through faith. There is a slight difference between them though. Disciples are disciples in this life alone. You are holy, a saint, forever, and you are also a child of God forever.
When it comes to All Saints’ Day, we remember “the communion of saints and the life everlasting.” We remember those who died in the faith have now “departed to be with Christ.” They are now in their Father’s Kingdom, the Kingdom of their Brother, Jesus. The saints, those who’ve died trusting Jesus, are children of God. But what they are right now, you and I are, too! Just like them,
WE ARE GOD’S FOREVER CHILDREN.
((I. WE ARE GOD’S FOREVER CHILDREN…through the blood of the Lamb and God’s name.))
How are we God’s forever children? That’s all laid out in our Revelation reading. There it’s clear how we are what God says we are. “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” It’s the Father’s because He sent His Son to be the Lamb. It’s the Lamb’s because He shed His blood, gave His life, and rose again on the Third Day. He is the Lamb “who looks like He was slain.” It is His blood that purifies you: “They washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
It’s also laid out in the first part of our Revelation reading, too. (The part with all the names and numbers—history and math lesson rolled into one!) There we hear about “the seal of the living God” that is “sealed upon the foreheads of God’s servants.” The “seal of the living God” is His name. In Revelation 14:1 John tells us: “Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.”
The Lamb’s blood and God’s name are all delivered to you in Holy Baptism. There He names you with His name. There you are called child of the Father, brother or sister with Jesus, and sealed with the Holy Spirit. There we are baptized into God’s Name, “the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Through Baptism you are given Jesus’ death and resurrection, His redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Through Baptism, you are part of “great multitude that no one can number from every nation,” even as Jesus gave the command to “make disciples of all nations baptizing them.”
((II. WE ARE GOD’S FOREVER CHILDREN…right now and also not yet.))
Through Jesus’ blood and the name of God WE ARE GOD’S FOREVER CHILDREN. Are. Right now. John couldn’t be any more clear on this point: “Beloved, we are God’s children now.” Right now. This moment. You child of God. Me child of God. This is true now for you, for me, by faith. We believe it’s true because of Christ’s blood and name. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” “So we are” means, “and that’s what we are.” We grasp hold of it by faith, by hope in Jesus alone. “Everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” Pure by faith because faith receives the benefits of Jesus’ blood and name.
But as much as it’s absolutely true right now that WE ARE GOD’S FOREVER CHILDREN. It’s also “not yet.” Both at the same time. Now AND not yet. “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared.” It’s true now for you in Jesus by trusting Him, but it’s also “not yet appeared” because of sin and death.
We don’t act like God’s children, nor do we treat our fellow believers as if they’re God’s children, as if we’re all ransomed by the blood of Jesus. “Our flesh has not those pure desires,” as we sang last week. Our flesh still sins against God not only by looking to our works or not praying not cherishing His Word, but you also sin against God not only when you sin against your neighbor but also when you try and wipe off the Lamb’s blood or erase God’s name by not forgiving them.
The wages for even one of these sins is death. That’s the second reason it’s “not yet appeared.” We get sick. We die. This gets to the heart of all saints day. Those who believed in Jesus, pure through faith, pure through His blood, and have now “come out of the great tribulation” of this life. They are now in His nearer presence as they await the glorious resurrection and the life everlasting, which will happen on the Last Day when Jesus “comes again in glory to judge both the living and the dead.”
((III. WE ARE GOD’S FOREVER CHILDREN…and will be forever!))
WE ARE GOD’S FOREVER CHILDREN, and we will be forever! Christ was dead on the cross, and was alive again on the third day. His tomb was empty! Can’t undo that. Baptism’s promise hold’s true—can’t undo that either! Faith grasps hold of it. The promise of baptism is that you were baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, or as it’s put in Revelation: “washed robes…made white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Jesus promises it as well today in the Beatitudes. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Now in the Supper of His body and blood. Not yet and forever at the eternal feast of the Lamb. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Pure through the Lamb’s blood and God’s name—that’s you!—and one day “we shall see Him as He is,” standing before the throne of God forever and ever. “Blessed are the peacemakers,”—those who are forgiven and are forgiving—”for they shall be called sons of God.”
The Lord’s Word endures forever. His Word and Promise to you. He won’t go back on it. Jesus said, “It is finished.” It was finished! He rose from the dead to prove it, and He will “never die again.” “I baptize you,” and you are baptized. “I forgive you,” and you are forgiven. “My body and blood for you,” and you have “forgiveness of sins.” “I will come again…” Not yet! But “we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
Being GOD’S FOREVER CHILDREN. That’s what All Saints’ Day is all about. Not just for those who believed in Jesus but who’ve now departed to be with Christ. Us, too! WE ARE GOD’S FOREVER CHILDREN!
WE ARE GOD’S FOREVER CHILDREN through Christ’s blood and God’s name. Both given us in Holy Baptism. And eternal promise of eternal life!
WE ARE GOD’S FOREVER CHILDREN. It may not look like it now to our senses and human way of thinking because of the sins we commit daily and much, and the fact that we will all die because of those sins and the fact that we are just sinners. But WE ARE GOD’S FOREVER CHILDREN right now through faith in Jesus, faith in His blood, His redemption, His forgiveness of sins. “Everyone who hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.”
WE ARE GOD’S FOREVER CHILDREN…and will be forever! Christ is risen from the death He died for you. His Word is yours. His baptism. His absolution. His body and blood. That’s all true. “I forgive you,” and you are forgiven. “My body and blood for you,” and you have “forgiveness of sins.” “We know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
INI + AMEN.