Skip to comments."Thanking God for All the Saints" (Sermon for All Saints' Day, on Revelation 7:9-17)
Posted on 11/03/2019 12:50:43 AM PDT by Charles Henrickson
Thanking God for All the Saints (Revelation 7:9-17)
Last week we celebrated Reformation Day. We remembered how Martin Luther broke with the Roman Catholic Church by saying that we are saved by grace through faith, faith in Christ, and not in the slightest measure by our works. This is the eternal gospel that Luther proclaimed loud and clear. And this doctrine of justification is the central teaching of the Christian faith. It is the article on which the church stands or falls. Sad to say, Rome has never corrected her errors on this most important teaching. And so this is still the underlying issue that divides Lutherans and Roman Catholics to this day.
At the same time, though, some people think that being Lutheran means that we must avoid anything they regard as too Catholic. For example, making the sign of the cross or chanting the liturgy or going to private confession--they think that we must not do these things or else we are being Romish.
Well, then, what do we do with a day like today? Because today were observing All Saints Day. Now what in the world is All Saints Day doing on a Lutheran church calendar? I thought saints were strictly for the Catholics. What do Lutherans have to do with saints?
What we do with them is to thank God for them. And praise God with them. And so our theme this morning: Thanking God for All the Saints.
You see, the Lutheran Reformation did not do away with everything that had been handed down in the church up to that point. In fact, the Lutheran church kept whatever could be kept without obscuring or going against the gospel. In practices where abuses had crept in, the Lutheran church corrected what needed to be corrected. But we did not necessarily get rid of the practices themselves. So those examples I mentioned earlier--the sign of the cross, the historic liturgy, chanting, private confession--all these practices were retained. We kept these things in the Lutheran church--cleaned up, of course. And in that way, with the necessary corrections having been made, we have kept All Saints Day. It is not too Catholic.
The basic correction that had to be made was in putting the saints in proper perspective. They do not aid us in gaining salvation, as if Christ were not enough. The Apology of the Augsburg Confession states: We maintain that we dare not trust in the transfer of the saints merits to us, as though God were reconciled to us or accounted us righteous or saved us on this account. We obtain the forgiveness of sins only by Christs merits when we believe in him.
But having said that, our Lutheran Confessions do not reject the practice of remembering and honoring the saints. In fact, the saints are held in high regard. The Augsburg Confession says: It is taught among us that saints should be kept in remembrance. The Apology adds, Our Confession approves giving honor to the saints. Luther himself said, Next to Holy Scripture there certainly is no more useful book for Christendom than that of the lives of the saints.
Now lets clarify what we mean by saints. In the broad sense, all Christians are saints. Paul addresses several of his epistles, To the saints: To the saints in Ephesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, and so on. All believers are saints. The word saint means holy one, and in Christ, in his holiness, we all have been made holy. We have been set apart to belong to God. In that sense, we are all saints, holy ones. So to call ourselves saints is not bragging on us. Instead, its bragging on Christ, the one who makes us holy.
Luther puts it likes this: Just as we should not deny that we are baptized and Christians, so we should not deny or doubt that we are holy. It would be well to impress this deeply on people and to accustom them not to be shocked at it or hesitate to accept it. . . . For when Christians call themselves holy after Christ, this is not arrogance; it is honoring and praising God. For thereby we do not praise the malodorous holiness of our own works but His Baptism, Word, grace, and Spirit, which we do not have of ourselves; He gave them to us.
Yes, Christ Jesus has made us the holy people of God. By faith in Christ we are saints. For this great fact, we praise God today, to whom goes all the glory.
The Bible makes it clear that it is because of Christ that God regards us as holy, as saints. In the Book of Revelation, chapter seven, St. John is given a vision of the church triumphant. He sees a great multitude standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They are clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice saying, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! Then John is told who these ones are in the white robes: These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
The blood of the Lamb! This is how we become saints, holy ones! This is how our sin-stained robes are washed clean, white as snow! The blood of the Lamb! This is how one day we will leave the troubles of this life and join that host arrayed in white. By the blood of the Lamb. Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus Christ made the perfect sacrifice for all your sins! He shed his blood on the cross for you! The holy precious blood of Gods own Son is the price that was paid to set you free, to redeem you from sin and death and eternal damnation. By the blood of the Lamb you are free, you are forgiven. Like the saints in Revelation 7, we have had our robes washed clean and made white in the blood of the Lamb. The white robe of Christs righteousness was placed on you in your baptism. Now you are a child of God and an heir of heaven. This is how you and I can be called saints.
So all Christians are saints. But this term is especially used for those who have died in the faith and departed this life. And it is on All Saints Day that the church commemorates those faithful departed. Today we remember with thanksgiving those who have gone before us in the faith. We thank God for them, for their faith, for their contributions to the life of the church, for their example of good works done from a living faith. This is what Luther and the Confessions mean when they say that we remember and honor the saints.
We especially think of the outstanding saints, those whom history recalls and whose names we know. Saints like St. Mary, the mother of our Lord and that most blessed of women. We honor the saints of old. We strive to follow their example of faith and good works.
We also benefit from their example of being forgiven sinners who received Gods grace. That encourages us, because we know how much we ourselves need Gods forgiveness. Think of St. Peter and St. Paul, what examples they are of Gods great mercy to sinners. Remember how Jesus restored Peter, after Peter had denied the Lord. What pardon and forgiveness God shows! Think of Paul--first known as Saul, the persecutor of the church. Yet Paul will say, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. Again, we see the grace of God to redeem even those who were fighting against him. This is of great comfort and encouragement to us. If God can save sinners like Peter and Paul--and David, the adulterer and murderer, and Matthew, the crooked tax-collector--then he can rescue poor miserable sinners like you and me. God is in the business of turning sinners into saints.
Think of how God used these saints for the work of the gospel: Peter, preaching to thousands on the Day of Pentecost. Paul, traveling the Mediterranean world to establish churches. Matthew and John, authors of gospels. Then there were the great saints of church history: St. Athanasius, courageously confessing Christ before the world. St. Augustine, the great teacher of the church. Brave martyrs like Polycarp and Perpetua and Felicity. Hymn writers like St. Ambrose and Bernard of Clairvaux. Missionaries like St. Patrick and St. Boniface. All these saints lived long before Luther, but we Lutherans claim them as part of our heritage, too.
Then there are saints whose names history does not record, but whose names are written in the Lambs book of life. We may not have known them, but God does. And the saints whose names you do know, because theyre written into your own personal history: That sainted grandfather or grandmother who influenced you for Christ and the church. Your late husband or wife who was your companion in Christ for so many years. How we thank God for those dear loved ones we miss so much!
Today we remember in particular those from our own congregation who have fallen asleep in Jesus over the last twelve months. This year we remember two from our midst, Bill McBride and Glen Schilling. We miss these brothers, and we thank God for keeping them in the faith and giving them the victory in Jesus. And we look forward to seeing them again one day.
Brothers and sisters, today we thank God for all the saints: the saints of old, the ones whose names we know, as well as all the unknown saints who have gone before us. We thank God for the faithful departed we have known personally. We thank God for the good gifts they have been in our own lives and in the life of the church. And baptized in the cleansing blood of Christ, we look forward to joining that white-robed multitude gathered before the throne, where we all will sing Gods praises forever: Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come? I said to him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Reformation and saints aside, how does the author explain or justify the current apostate Lutheran position of enabling and supporting homosexuality and so-called same-sex marriages? Have Lutherans deleted Romans 1 from their Bible?
It's ironic how in some ways, Lutherans and other Protestant churches, which today enable and support homosexuality, are guilty of Rome's sin, which was and is placing church teaching and doctrine above scripture.
Martin must be rolling in his grave at the sight of today's Lutheran and other apostate Protestant churches.
The author is an LCMS pastor. The LCMS was founded in 1847 and should not be confused with the ‘Lutheran in name only’ groups of which you speak.
You’re off the sainthood topic of the sermon, but here, take the time to learn about what you speak, and at least learn about our actual views on marriage before painting us all with that very broad brush you’re carrying around:
At least did not say "all" other Protestant churches. Some testimony from stats during past years are fitting (^ refers to last cited source above, while Barna changed their site so that links may not go to the work cited):
40% Roman Catholics vs. 41% Non-R.C. see abortion as "morally acceptable"; Sex between unmarried couples: 67% vs. 57%; Baby out of wedlock: 61% vs. 52%; Homosexual relations: 54% vs. 45%; Gambling: 72% vs. 59% http://www.gallup.com/poll/117154/Catholics-Similar-Mainstream-Abortion-Stem-Cells.aspx
Committed Roman Catholics (church attendance weekly or almost) versus Non-R.C. faithful church goers (see the below as as morally acceptable): Abortion: 24% of R.C. vs. 19% Non-R.C.; Sex between unmarried couples: 53% vs. 30%; Baby out of wedlock: 48% vs. 29%; Homosexual relations: 44% vs. 21%; Gambling: 67% vs. 40%; Divorce: 63 vs. 46% ^
In a 2010 LifeWay Research survey 77 percent of American Protestant pastors (57% of mainline versus 87% evangelical) strongly disagree with same-sex marriage, with 6% percent somewhat disagreeing, and 5% being somewhat in agreement and 10 percent strongly agreeing. (5% of evangelical).
Only 3% of evangelical pastors (versus 11% mainline) somewhat agree that there is nothing wrong with homosexual marriage.
11% of evangelical pastors (versus 30% mainline) somewhat agree that homosexual civil unions are acceptable, with 67% of the former and 38% of the latter strongly disagreeing with homosexual civil unions. October 2010 LifeWay Research survey of 1,000 randomly selected Protestant pastors. http://www.lifeway.com/ArticleView?storeId=10054&catalogId=10001&langId=-1&article=LifeWay-Research-protestant-pastors-oppose-homosexual-marriage
A 2002 nationwide poll of 1,854 priests in the United States and Puerto Rico reported that 30% of Roman Catholic priests described themselves as Liberal, 28% as Conservative, and 37% as Moderate in their Religious ideology. 53 percent responded that they thought it always was a sin for unmarried people to have sexual relations; 32 percent that is often was, and 9 percent seldom/never. However, nearly four in 10 younger priests in 2002 described themselves as conservative, and were more likely to regard as "always a sin" such acts as premarital sex, abortion, artificial birth control, homosexual relations, etc., and three-fourths said they were more religiously orthodox than their older counterparts. Los Angeles Times (extensive) nationwide survey (2002). http://www.bishop-accountability.org/resources/resource-files/reports/LAT-Priest-Survey.pdf http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1141/is_2_39/ai_94129129/pg_2
The survey also found that 80% of Roman Catholic priests referred to themselves as mostly heterosexual in orientation, with 67% being exclusively heterosexual, 8% leaning toward heterosexual, 5% completely in the middle, and 6% leaning toward homosexual and 9% saying they are homosexual, for a combined figure of 15% on the homosexual class. Among younger priests (those ordained for 20 years or less) the figure was 23%. ^
One-third of surveyed priests said they do not waver from their vow of celibacy, while 47% described celibacy as an ongoing journey and 14% said they do not always succeed in following it. 2% said celibacy is not relevant to their priesthood and they do not observe it. not celibate. ^
71 percent of priests responded that it always was wrong for a woman to get an abortion, 19 percent that it often was, and 4 percent seldom/never. ^
28 percent judged that is always was sin for married couples to use artificial birth control, 25 percent often, 40 percent never. ^
49 percent affirmed that it was always a sin to engage in homosexual behavior, often, 25 percent; and never, 19 percent. ^
To take one's own life if suffering from a debilitating disease: always, 59 percent; often, 18 percent; never, 17 percent. ^
A combined 15 percent of the clergy polled identified themselves as "gay (9%) > or more (6%) on the homosexual side." Among younger priests 23 percent did so. Los Angeles Times (extensive) nationwide survey (2002). http://www.bishop-accountability.org/resources/resource-files/reports/LAT-Priest-Survey.pdf
17 percent of the priests said "definitely" , and 27% said "probably," a homosexual subculture'--defined as a `definite group of persons that has its own friendships, social gatherings and vocabulary'--exists in their diocese or religious order. ^
After examining the official web sites of 244 Catholic universities and colleges in America, the TFP Student Action found that 107 or 43% have pro-homosexual clubs. TFP Student Action Dec. 6. 2011; studentaction.org/get-involved/online-petitions/pro-homosexual-clubs-at-107-catholic-colleges/print.html
39 percent of Roman Catholics and 79 percent of born-again, evangelical or fundamentalist American Christians affirm that homosexual behavior is sinful. LifeWay (SBC) Research study, released Wednesday. 2008 LifeWay Research study. http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080606/survey-americans-divided-on-homosexuality-as-sin.htm
79 percent of American Jews, 58 percent of Catholics and 56 percent of mainline Protestants favor acceptance of homosexuality, versus 39 percent of members of historically black churches, 27 percent of Muslims and 26 percent of the evangelical Protestants. U.S. U.S. Religious landscape survey; Copyright © 2008 The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. http://religions.pewforum.org/comparisons#
56% of Catholics overall (and 46% of the general public) believe that sexual relations between two adults of the same gender is not a sin, while 39%. of Catholics say homosexual behavior is morally wrong, (versus 76% of white evangelicals and 66% of black Protestants, and 40% of Mainline Protestants). 41% of Catholics do not consider homosexual behavior to be a moral issue. (Pew Research Center, Religion & Politics Survey, 2009; PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey, October 2010; http://publicreligion.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Catholics-and-LGBT-Issues-Survey-Report.pdf)
Catholics testify  to showing more support (in numbers) for legal recognitions of same-sex relationships than members of any other Christian tradition, and Americans overall. Almost three-quarters of Catholics favor either allowing gay and lesbian people to marry or allowing them to form civil unions (43% and 31% respectively). Only 22% of Catholics said there should be no legal recognition of a gay couples relationship. (PRRI, Pre--election American Values Survey, 9/2010; http://publicreligion.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Catholics-and-LGBT-Issues-Survey-Report.pdf.)
This 2010 survey of more than 3,000 adults found that 41% of White American Catholics, 45% of Latino Catholics (versus 16 percent of White evangelical Christians, and 23% of Black Protestants) supported the rights of same-sex couples to marry, and 36% (22% of Latino Catholics) supported civil unions (versus 24% of White evangelicals, and 25% of Black Protestants). Among the general public the rates were 37 and 27 percent.
69% of Catholics disagree that homosexual orientation can be changed, versus 23% who believe that they can change. ^
19% of White Catholics, 30% of Latino Catholics, 58% of White evangelicals, 52% of Black Protestants and 29% of White Mainline Protestants oppose any legal recognition of homosexual marriage. ^
60% of Catholics overall, and 53% of the general public favor allowing homosexual couples to adopt children. ^
73% of Catholics favor laws that would protect gay and lesbian people against discrimination in the workplace, and 63% favor allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military. For the general public the figures are 68% and 58% respectively. ^
49% of Catholics and 45% of the general public agree that homosexuals should be eligible for ordination with no special requirements. ^
Among Catholics who attend services regularly (weekly or more), 31% say there should be no legal recognition for homosexual relationships (marriage or civil unions), with 26% favoring allowing gay and lesbian people to marry, versus 43% of Catholics who attend once or twice a month, and 59% of Catholics who attend a few times a year or less favoring allowance of homosexual marriage. ^
27% of Catholics who attend church services regularly say their clergy speak about the issue of homosexuality, with 63% of this group saying the messages they hear are negative. ^
48% of white evangelical Protestants oppose letting homosexuals serve openly in the military, with 34% supporting this proposal, versus 63% of Catholics (66% of white) supporting and 23% opposing. Pew forum, November 29, 2010, http://pewforum.org/uploadedFiles/Topics/Issues/Gay_Marriage_and_Homosexuality/gays%20in%20military%20full%20report.pdf
White evangelicals are most satisfied with their churchs handling of homosexuality, with 75 percent giving it an `A or a `B. Catholics are the most critical, with nearly a third twice as many as any other group giving their church a `D or `F. Oct. 2010 Poll sponsored by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Religion News Service. http://thepulpit.freedomblogging.com/2010/10/22/survey-links-gay-bullying-to-religion/7682/
31% of Catholics called celibacy a major factor leading to sexual abuse, while another 28% called it a minor factor. 35% said celibacy did not play a part in the abuse. http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/poll_catholics_050410_2pm.pdf
30%, meanwhile, said homosexuality played a major role. An additional 23% said it played a minor role. 37% said it was not a factor. ^
The percentage of percentage of adults Protestants who have been married and divorced is 34% versus 28% for Catholics, (the survey not determining if the divorce occurred before or after conversions) while Evangelicals were at 26%. Atheists or agnostic were at 30% (only 65% were ever married, vs. 84% for born-again Christians) while those aligned with a non-Christian faith were at 38%. The largest disparity (17%) relative to divorce was between high and low income levels (22% to 39%). http://www.barna.org/family-kids-articles/42-new-marriage-and-divorce-statistics-released
Subsequent to piasa setting me straight, I did some research. I learned that the LCMS holds a biblical view of marriage and homosexuality.
I sincerely apologize to Rev. Henrickson and you for ignorantly conflating apostate Lutheran branches with the LCMS.
Of course, perhaps the funniest joke of all time about denominations came from Emo Philips:
Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, Dont do it! He said, Nobody loves me. I said, God loves you. Do you believe in God?
He said, Yes. I said, Are you a Christian or a Jew? He said, A Christian. I said, Me, too! Protestant or Catholic? He said, Protestant. I said, Me, too! What franchise? He said, Baptist. I said, Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist? He said, Northern Baptist. I said, Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?
He said, Northern Conservative Baptist. I said, Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region? He said, Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region. I said, Me, too!
Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912? He said, Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.
I said, Die, heretic! And I pushed him over.
Great joke! LOL!!
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