Advent Two Sermon 2005
December 4, 2005
Facing the Future with Confidence
Imagine that the god of Muhammad
were the true God. You have
no right to call him ďfatherĒ because he is no oneís father.
He is the master and you are the slave.
You have no right to bind him to his promises because he refuses
to be bound by anything but his own arbitrary and unknowable will. The Muslim does not know whether he will spend eternity in
heaven or in hell. He
cannot know because his god refuses to say.
According to this religion, on Judgment Day everyone will have to
walk over a bridge. Below
the bridge is hell. At the
end of the bridge is Paradise. If
you make it across the bridge you go to heaven.
If you fall off the bridge you go to hell.
You cannot know ahead of time whether or not you will make it
across. Allah might decide
to let you cross. Or he
might decide to push you into hell. Allah knows, but heís not telling. You donít get to know.
Imagine that the god of the
Jehovahís Witnesses were the true God.
You must tell others about him, regularly visiting people you
donít want to see and who donít want to see you.
You must follow a strict code of conduct that forbids you to
celebrate any holidays or to give allegiance to any human authority.
You must submit to Jehovah, but Jehovah offers you no guarantees.
You want to inherit eternal life but you cannot know if you will.
You are forbidden to know.
The Muslims and the Jehovahís
Witnesses worship different gods but they have much in common.
They believe that their god created the world and all that is in
it. They believe that their
god has spoken and that his word is written down.
Muslims believe that their god dictated the Koran to Gabriel who
passed it on to Muhammad. Jehovahís
Witnesses believe that the Bible is the written word of God without any
errors. Both Muslims and
Jehovahís Witnesses believe that Jesus lived an innocent life.
Both deny that he died on a cross and both deny that He rose
bodily from the dead. Both
deny that Jesus is the true God become flesh.
Both believe that their god will judge this world on the last
day. And neither can be confident that he will enter the gates of
If you are to have any hope for
your future, it is not enough to know that God made you.
It is not enough to know that God speaks and that His words are
written down in a book. It
is not enough to know that His words are true.
None of this is enough. You
need to know that God speaks to you and that He binds Himself to the
promises He makes to you.
All three lessons for the Second
Sunday in Advent teach a common theme.
The Old Testament Lesson from Micah describes the Messianic Age.
The time of the Messiah has a two-fold fulfillment that
corresponds to Christís first and second coming.
In His first coming, He establishes His church on earth. In His second coming, He brings His church to glory.
The church on earth has the word of God.
It goes out to all nations.
People from all over the world learn to beat their swords into
plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
That is, they find in Christís kingdom the peace they sought
but could not find by their own efforts.
God takes fear away from their hearts and sets them at peace in
The Epistle Lesson speaks of the
Gentile nations glorifying God for His mercy in Christ.
The Holy Scriptures are fulfilled in Christ and provide us with
true hope. The end of the
world will come unexpectedly, but those who found Christ in the Holy
Scriptures will be ready to face that day.
The Gospel Lesson speaks of the
coming of the end. People
will be terrified but Christians will be filled with joy because the
promises God gave them in Christ are finally being fulfilled.
All those who hold on to the words of Christ will escape the
destruction coming on the world. The
entire universe will be destroyed, but Christís word will remain.
From these three lessons we
learn three things about Godís word.
Godís word is creative. Godís
word is comforting. Godís
word is eternal.
Godís word is creative.
God speaks. But
Godís word is never just talk. By
speaking God does. He
creates. In the beginning
God created the world by speaking.
By speaking He created new life in us.
He brought us to faith and regenerated us Ė that is, He gave us
the new spiritual birth Ė by speaking to us.
He speaks to us and thereby establishes a relationship with us.
This relationship stands. It
stands firm in the face of catastrophe.
everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one
shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.
Everyone sitting under his own
vine and fig tree is a poetic way of describing prosperity.
There is more than enough for everyone.
No one is in need of anything.
There is perfect contentment.
No one makes anyone afraid.
This is so because God has said so.
When God says so it makes it so.
This is how we should regard our
future. St. Paul writes:
know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to
those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
And how do we know this?
We know this because Godís purpose cannot fail.
He speaks and it is as good as done.
Why should we worry about our future when God has already decreed
that all things will work together for our good?
His word is never just words.
It does that which it promises.
Godís word is comforting.
The Bible was written for a purpose.
Near the end of St. Johnís Gospel we read of his purpose in
writing the Gospel.
truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which
are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may
have life in His name. (John 20:30-31)
The reason the Bible brings us
comfort is because the Bible brings us Jesus.
The written Word of God is written for the expressed purpose of
bringing us to faith in the Incarnate Word of God.
This is how you should read the
Bible. The comfort of the
Holy Scriptures comes from the content of the Holy Scriptures.
The content is Christ. Christ
brings comfort because He guarantees our future. The reason the gods of Muslims and Jehovahís Witnesses can
bring no real comfort is because these gods are not true. The true God is the Christian God. The true God is the God who is revealed in Christ.
Christ brings comfort because He
is the reason that Godís promises to us are sincere.
God binds Himself to His word for good reason.
It is certainly not because we have deserved it.
We havenít. Weíve
run away from Godís word, denied it by our words and actions, and
ignored it. Weíve doubted
it. Weíve despised it. God
doesnít bind Himself to His promises to us because He is obligated to
do so by anything we have done. But
God is obligated to keep His promises to us.
He has bound Himself to do so.
How can this be? It
is because of Christ.
Christ has the affection of His
Father. Christ has won over
the Fatherís heart by the purity of His living and the innocence of
His suffering. When the
Father said, ďThis is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,Ē He
said this for our sake. We
should look to find Godís love and approval in Christ.
He has won this approval for us.
For Christís sake God forgives us our sins.
For Christís sake God guarantees us life in the face of death.
For Christís sake God comforts us and speaks kindly to us.
We should read the Bible with the idea of finding Christ in every
page. When we are
discouraged and filled with doubts about our future and we wonder how
our troubles will be resolved God invites us to search the Scriptures.
What will we find therein? Jesus
search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and
these are they which testify of me. (John 5:39 )
The reason the Bible gives us
eternal life is because the Bible testifies to Christ who gives us
eternal life. The comfort of the Bible is the comfort that Christ alone can
Godís word is eternal.
Our troubles are not. Our
temptations are not. Our
doubts are not. Our sins
are not. Our sins cannot rise up to claim us or accuse us when we have
received from Godís word the promise of forgiveness for Christís
sake. Godís word is
eternal. It sees to the
eternal past into the heart and mind of God, eternally electing his
children unto salvation for Christís sake.
It sees into the eternal future where all sins, doubts, and
troubles are forgotten. This is the word in which we trust. It is more than enough to keep us in the true faith.
The reason people wonder about
their future is because they donít listen to God.
They listen instead to all of the time bound notions that sound
so true and so intelligent and so very wise.
They worry about the economy.
They wonder how theyíll pay their bills or get through the
operation or get on with life when facing a deep loss.
They worry and they wonder.
Then God speaks. He speaks and it is done.
Where there was doubt there is now assurance. Where there was guilt there is now comfort, for Christ takes
the place of all doubt. The
faith the word of God creates and the comfort the word of God gives is
not transient. It doesnít
diminish. It doesnít
fade. It lasts forever. It
never loses its luster. This
is why we will cherish Godís word above all that this world offers.
When God holds Himself accountable to keep His word, we will make
bold to do so as well, knowing that for the sake of His dear Son there
is nothing good that God can or will deny to us.
Rev. Rolf D. Preus