All Saints’ Day—Observed (1 Jn 3, 1–3; Rev 7, 9–17; Mt 5,1–12)

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See what sort of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called, “Children of God,” and we are!

᛭ INI ᛭

We are who we are because of what Jesus did for us. We are what we are because He died for us. We have what we have because He rose from the dead for us. We will live forever because Jesus rose. We are redeemed and forgiven because Jesus shed His blood and died for us. We are “children of God” not only because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but we are “children of God” because Jesus made us so in the waters of Holy Baptism.

Baptism works the forgiveness of sins. (Acts 2) That’s what we confess in the 3rd Article of the Nicene Creed: “I believe in one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” Baptism unites you to Jesus’ resurrection (Rom 6), and so Baptism promises what the 3rd Article of the Apostles’ Creed says, “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” Baptism also unites us together (Gal 3). Baptism gives and promises “the communion of saints.”

So, All Saints’ Day, what we’re observing today, is too important to let slide. All Saints’ is basically 3rd Article of the Creed Day. The Day we rejoice that all that Jesus has done for us to save us is delivered to us by the Holy Spirit in “the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”

Christ died for us to earn forgiveness for us to make us holy, and the Holy Spirit to make us holy delivers that to us so that we receive and believe it. Saints are those who are holy. Saints made saints, made holy, by Jesus and the Spirit. They aren’t self made. Being a saint is a gift, the gift of being a child of God. That’s really where all these ideas come together.

And that’s what John the Evangelist tells us in his epistle: See what sort of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called, “Children of God,” and we are! No just we together. You. Yes, you.

YOU ARE ONE OF GOD’S HOLY CHILDREN.

(I. That’s what you will be forever.))

That’s what you are and will be forever—God’s holy child. That’s His promise to you. It’s not yet. “What we will be has not yet appeared.” But you “will be like Him.” That’s His promise. As the hymn puts it: “Glorified I shall anew In this flesh then be enshrouded.” (LSB 741:5) Humanity was originally created in God’s image, His righteousness and holiness, and on the Last Day “we will be like Him.” On that Day, “we will see Him as He is.”

Jesus is also making that very promise to you today in our Gospel reading. “Those who mourn” “WILL be comforted.” “The meek” “WILL inherit the earth.” “Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” “WILL be satisfied.” “The pure in heart” “WILL see God,” “see Him as He is.” These things WILL happen. You can go to bank on them. Jesus’ cross along with His empty tomb are proof positive that Jesus can and will keep this promise. You’re Baptized—promise on top of promise! They WILL be true for you.

John prophesies about these promises. He sees them fulfilled in our reading from Revelation. “He who sits on the throne WILL tent Himself around them.” “The Lamb in the middle of the throne WILL shepherd them and WILL lead them to streams of living water, and God WILL wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

((Transition.))

This is what it means to be a saint, ONE OF GOD’S HOLY CHILDREN. It means that you WILL be His child forever. It means Jesus is your brother forever. It means the Holy Spirit “will raise [you] and all the dead, and give eternal life to [you] and all believers in Christ.” (SC 3A) This is the promise of Holy Baptism. The saints are holy because of this.

And that’s you. You are one of them—through faith, through Baptism. So, you’re a saint, made holy by Jesus’ death and resurrection, made holy by the Holy Spirit, made holy by Holy Baptism. Not this or that or the other thing. Not one Gift better than the other, but one Gift piled on top of the other. God the Father, on account of His Son, through the Holy Spirit, in the Means of Grace, gives in that way to you now. It’s not just future; it’s now—right now!

YOU ARE ONE OF GOD’S HOLY CHILDREN.

((II. That’s what you are now during the great tribulation.))

Yes, that’s what you ARE. Not just WILL be, but ARE. That’s what John tells you. See what sort of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called, “Children of God,” and we are! “Beloved, we are God’s children now.” All of us, each of us—you!—through faith in Jesus: “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies Himself as He is pure.” That’s God’s Gift—His Gift given in love—to you.

And it really is yours right now. I know it doesn’t seem like it. “What we will be has not yet appeared,” but nevertheless “we are God’s children now.” You’re God’s child now: Beloved child; beloved son; beloved daughter. For He has “blessed us with His grace, in the Beloved,” His “beloved Son,” Jesus. That’s what He called Jesus at His Baptism. So also you. (Titus 3)

You are His child in the midst of the great tribulation. That’s what this life is: “the great tribulation.” That’s what the elder tells John: “These are those who are coming out of the great tribulation.” Jesus also tells us, “In the world, you will have tribulation, but take heart I have overcome the world.” This world is tribulation. It’s why the beatitudes are front-loaded with tribulation: “the poor in spirit,” “those who mourn,” “the meek,” “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” The trials, tribulations, troubles of the world get us down.

The trials and troubles include the things that happen to us, to those we love, too, those who’ve died. “Those who mourn,” Jesus says. But it’s not just the things that make us “meek” and weak, “mourn” and weep. It’s what happens in our own hearts and consciences, too. We “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” You’re hungry for what you don’t have. You’re thirsty because you need a drink. So also we “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” Jesus’ righteousness because we’re sinners, filling ourselves with what doesn’t satisfy—the sins we commit daily and much.

Nevertheless, Jesus says, “Blessèd are.” Not blessed; blesséd. “Happy” in some translations. Really, happy in spite of the circumstances. But Why? Is it based on your hunger or thirst? On the quality of your meekness? Is it how much mourning you have? How much peace you’ve made? No, it’s all promise. His promise for you.

“Blessèd are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Yes, will be, but also now. “Blesséd are.” Comfort now: you’re baptized. You’re God’s holy child. Nothing can change that. He satisfies you with His own righteousness, delivered in the forgiveness of sins. “Eat and drink, My body and blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Blessèd, holy—that’s you. Because of what Jesus does and delivers to you.

It’s all received by faith. “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself as He is pure.” “Robes made white in the blood of the Lamb.” Pure, holy, forgiven—that’s you. God’s child—that’s you. Blesséd—that’s you. It’s all because of what God has done for you in His Son Jesus. It’s all because of what Jesus says and promises to you. And faith, well, faith trusts what Jesus says and does.

((Conclusion.))

YOU ARE ONE OF GOD’S HOLY CHILDREN.

One of many—“a great crowd which no one can number.” But you, yes, you, are one of them. Jesus died and rose to make it so. Baptized you to make it so. Gives you His body and blood to keep you so. Faith receives it, believes it—“everyone who has this hope purifies himself as He is pure.”

This is who you eternally are: God’s child. But it’s true even now, as we pass our time in “the Great Tribulation.” Tribulation from without (what happens to us) and within (our own sin). But all the more Jesus says, “Blessèd are you,” “I forgive you.”

“Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8)

See what sort of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called, “Children of God,” and we are!

᛭ INI ᛭

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