“Forever Blessed in the Presence of Christ”
(Matthew 5:3 & 10)
Grace, mercy and peace, from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our text for this morning’s sermon are these words of Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven… Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.
Introduction: It’s good to be back! Thank you, Bill, for bringing God’s Word last Sunday to the saints of Faith Lutheran Church. Once a year, the Crandalls like to see one Gamecock football game live at the stadium in Columbia, since Allison plays her trumpet in the halftime show – and this year Nathan carried the Marine Corps flag in the ROTC honor guard when everyone stood for the National Anthem. The only trouble was, after we picked the Tennessee game and bought our tickets, they went and scheduled the game for late at night! For me to get back to Beaufort after the game, I would have had trouble remembering my own name Sunday morning, let alone lead Divine Service and preach a good sermon. That’s where our Elder, Bill Smith, comes in. Thanks again, Bill, for covering for me, allowing me to sit with my family during church Sunday morning and hear the Word from Pastor Burger at Columbia’s Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
So, saints of Faith Lutheran Church: How did Bill do? Did God’s Word from Bill’s lips take? Did you make it through the week… without sinning? Remember, Luther said, “Always preach in such a way that if the people listening do not come to hate their sin, they will instead hate you.”
Of course, I’m being facetious, but some people actually do react that way when they read or hear the Beatitudes. They hear Jesus say, “Blessed are the pure in heart,” and they probably won’t say it out loud, but they think to themselves, “Yep, that’s me! I’m meek and merciful. I’m a peacemaker and pure in heart! That’s me, all right! I must be greatly blessed by God for being such a wonderful Child of God!”
WRONG! They got it backwards! You are a Child of God – but only because He first loved you – even when you were quite unlovable.
- I. The truth is, God loved us when we were “sinful and unclean by nature…” Unmerciful, proud (not meek), arrogant, selfish, ingrates! That’s what we were when “Christ died for the ungodly.”
- You see, we are simultaneously saints AND sinners. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to God’s Word:
- “Romans 7) “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing… For I delight in the law of God (in my inner being), but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
Simultaneously saints AND sinners! As long as that selfish nature clings to us, we sin much daily – so we must repent much daily.
- This IS “the great tribulation”!
- Abide in Christ and hate your sin, plus the world hates YOU.
- OR Live in sin, knowing somewhere in your heart that you are not right with God – even while you hate the preacher.
- A life of Repentance needs to be nourished by Word and Sacrament.
For as long as we still sin, we will still need God’s Law to remind us that
we need His forgiveness.
- Refuse to repent (try to justify yourself) and you will never come out of the Great Tribulation. The “poor in spirit” realize their desperate need for God’s forgiveness.
- John: “Everyone who hopes purifies himself as he is pure.”
How to purify self?
Trust in the purity of Christ; God says you are pure.
- Forensic Righteousness (Firm Foundation)
God says you are righteous, because Christ was righteous for you.
- God washed us white in the Blood of the Lamb
- First, we believe that Christ’s righteousness covers our sins.
THEN come the Beatitudes and we’re blessed as the “pure in heart.”
- We are children of God: “And so we are…”
God adopted us!
God created us, we rebelled, He bought us back!
Not with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of His Son!
“See what kind of love the Father has for us!”
He makes us righteous by washing us in the Blood of the Lamb!
- Cling to that righteousness, to the Word of God, to HIS righteousness.
- It isn’t always easy – admitting you sinned yet again
and need forgiveness again… Not easy! It gets old!
- It also isn’t easy dealing with the hatred the world has for you.
Our Righteousness stands as an indictment against the unrepentant.
They hate forgiven, repentant sinners –
calling good “evil” and evil “good.”
- Yet it IS easy, knowing that He is our dear, loving Father
and we are his beloved children – even now!
Great is HIS faithfulness.
God will bring to completion what HE has begun in you.
Conclusion: We get a foretaste of the feast to come, especially in the Lord’s Supper, with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven!
One day soon He will wipe away all your tears from your eyes and
GLORY will be ours!
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, lie, and say all kinds of evil things about you because of Jesus. Rejoice and be glad because you have a great reward in heaven!”
The peace of God, which is beyond our understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.