131117 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Sermon Text: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Sermon Theme: REJOICE THAT GOD'S GRACE MAKES YOU A SAINT TRIUMPHANT IN LIFE AND IN DEATH!

I am going to begin today by asking you to think about a subject that a lot of people don't like to think about: death. What types of thoughts come to your mind when you think about your own death? Do you feel sad when you think about your own death or the death of a loved one? While we may have tears at the loss of a loved one who has died, while we may have tears as we think about loved ones who are left behind following our death, we are able to dry those tears with the comforting message of God's Word. It is in the Word of our Savior-God that we read about his love for all mankind, including you and me. We call this God's grace. "Grace" is the great undeserved love which God showed to all sinners as he provided a Savior in Jesus Christ. In God's Word before us this morning, Paul was led by the Holy Spirit to talk about grace and to encourage all of us with God's grace. On this "Saints Triumphant Sunday" we are reminded to rejoice that God's grace makes you a Saint Triumphant in life and in death!

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In these verses before us, the apostle Paul is dealing with the teaching from the Bible known as "divine election" or "predestination". Some will hear this Word of God, and think to themselves, "If God chose some to be saved, then he must have chosen the others to be damned." But is this correct? Is this what the Bible teaches? If a person is damned forever, and sentence to an eternal life in the fires of hell, God's Word tells us the responsibility does NOT lie with God, but rather with the person himself. A number of passages from God's Word clearly make this point. 1 Timothy chapter 4, "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." Jesus himself says in John chapter 3, "Whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." Later in John chapter 3, John the Baptist is speaking and says, "Whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

While it goes far beyond our limited understanding, the Bible's teaching of "divine election" or "predestination" is really meant to give you and me comfort, who by God's grace believe in Jesus Christ as our only Savior from sin; comfort that at this very moment you and I are counted as part of the Saints Triumphant. It gives us the assurance that when you and I die we will join our fellow Saints Triumphant as we enter the eternal glory of heaven. At the time of our death heaven is ours, not by any effort on our part (because if it depended on us how could you or I ever be sure we had done enough), but by God's grace alone. In Ephesians, chapter 1 we read these comforting words, "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love (grace) he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will -- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." The faith that you and I have in Jesus as our one and only Savior, the assurance that all of our sins are forgiven, the promise of everlasting life in the mansions of heaven, are all free gifts from a gracious, loving God. As one author has written, "Our salvation rests in God's wisdom and power, rather than in our feeble hands." My dear friends in Christ, rejoice that God's grace makes you a Saint Triumphant in life and in death!

Why do you do some of things that you do each day? Why do you go to work or school each day? Why do you work hard or study hard? Why do you do all those jobs that need to be done around the house? Because you have to? Because you are afraid you might get punished if you don't do those things? Is it to get ahead in the business world or to get better grades? Why do we as Christians desire to live for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Because we have to? Because we are afraid of punishment if we don't live in a way which please him? To earn his favor? The motivation to live a God-pleasing life comes back to that same word we have been talking about today: grace. We who rejoice that we are Saints Triumphant by the grace of our God are encouraged and motivated by that grace to live for him now as we look forward to living with him forever in heaven.

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

It is sad to see, but it is true that many church bodies today are no longer standing firm, or holding on tightly to the teachings found in God's holy Word. They may see them as out of date. They may say that what was written so many years ago can't possibly apply to us today. But what does God's Word before us this morning tell us. We are told that as we enjoy God's grace in this life we are to stand firm and hang on tightly to all that the Bible teaches. We here at St. Matthew's never claim to be a perfect church. There are sinners in this place, just as in other churches across our country and in other churches right here in Oconomowoc. But what we do claim is to preach and teach only and all that God's Word says. I encourage all of you, both members of our congregation as well as those who are visiting with us this morning, measure up what we here at St. Matthew's teach and preach against the Word of God. See for yourself if what we are saying agrees with what is found in the Bible. I can tell you that, as a congregation, we will not be blown here and there by those who say we need to "get with the times", for we, by God's grace, have our feet firmly set and are holding on tightly to all of God's Word.

But what about our day to day life, outside these walls? Are you and I standing firm and holding on tightly to the Word of God? Are temptations from the sinful world, your own sinful self or the devil himself causing you to slip or to lose your grip on our God's Word? In our everyday life, are we living in such a way that says thank-you to our Lord in heaven for his great grace that has made us one of the Saints Triumphant? If you find yourself slipping, return to the Word of God. It is here that you read again for yourselves about the grace that God has shown to you. It is here, in his Word, where you will read how only by his grace are we made Saints Triumphant, rescued from the guilt of our sins and made members of God's family only by his grace. As you read this Word for yourself, and hear again of God's grace for you, you will be encouraged and empowered; encouraged to hang on to the precious truths of his Word; empowered to live as a Saint Triumphant in all that you say and do.

Grace is one of those terms in the Bible that is so full of meaning that it is difficult to say all that it means for us in the course of one, brief sermon. As a basic definition, we define grace as God's "undeserved love" for sinners. Based on the Word of God before us this morning, we have seen that it is God's grace, God's great undeserved love, which chose you and me to be his own dearly loved children. It is only God's grace that gives you and me the power to hang on tightly to his Word and to live for him. By God's grace alone, you and I believe in Jesus Christ as our only Savior from all our sins. By God's grace alone, you and I have the promise that all of our sins are forgiven through our Lord and Savior. By God's grace alone, you and I have the promise that at the time of our death we will enjoy a place in the glory of heaven. Dear Christian friends, rejoice that God's grace makes you a Saint Triumphant in life and in death! Amen.

 

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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Sunday
8:00 A.M. & 10:30 A.M.

9:15 A.M. Bible Study for All Ages

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St. Matthew's Lutheran Church
818 West Wisconsin Avenue
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
262-912-6060

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