A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on November 11, 2007 by Pastor Dale Raether On Judgment Day God Will Prove that We’re WorthyII Thessalonians 1:1-5,11,12 As just kind of a hobby I’ve been reading a translation of inscriptions which are inside the Egyptian pyramids. Anyway here’s their description of God that’s 1500 years older than Moses. God is spirit. God is one and alone and none other exists with him. God is from the beginning; he exists from of old when nothing else existed, and what exists he created. God is the eternal one; he is eternal and infinite and endures forever and ever. God is the creator of the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. What his heart conceived straightway came to pass. It sounds like what we believe, doesn’t it. But how in the world did the ancient Egyptians come up with? Well, actually they weren’t the only ones. Here’s a hymn verse from ancient Mesopotamia that’s hundreds of years older than Abraham. Lord of heaven and earth, The earth was not, you created it. The light of the day was not, you created it. The morning light you had not yet made.What this all tells me is that after the flood, the sons of Noah passed down their knowledge of God from one generation to the next. Unfortunately, the ancients also began to imagine that God had created lesser gods, which they gradually worshipped more and more instead of God. However, the Egyptians did keep on believing in the Commandments, and that when they died, they would be judged and if they were without sin, would go to heaven. But how did the Egyptians think they could be judged as without sin? According to the Pyramid Texts, by chanting, “I am pure. I am pure. I am pure. I am pure.” Then after that the person would call out the names of their 42 lesser gods and chant: I have not robbed; I have not killed; I have not lied. I’m not going to go through all 42 chants. But there were two I thought were especially interesting: I have not been loud-voiced. I have not been unduly active. One wonders what ancient Egyptians would say about today’s children. Anyway, did their chanting trick God into judging that they were without sin? God is a just, and sees everything that’s going on in our hearts and lives. Nevertheless when WE stand before Him either when we die or on the last day, we need not be afraid; and we will not have to prove that we’re worthy of eternal life. Rather On Judgment Day God Will Prove We’re Worthy. 1. He has already begun to do this. 2. We pray that He do this more and more. One of my favorite hymns goes like this: Lamb of God, pure and holy, who on the cross did suffer. Ever patient and lowly, yourself to scorn did offer. All sins you carried for us, else had despair reigned o’er us. Have mercy on us, O Jesus.When Jesus lived a pure and holy life, He did it for us. When He shed His blood on the cross, He washed away all our sins. And so, we ARE pure before God – not by our saying it, but by God saying it. In Romans we read, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” When God raised our King and our sin bearer from the dead, He declared the entire world “justified”, so that everyone who believes this is justified. Yet how do we know if a person truly has faith? Or, how do we know if we truly have faith?Our text reads, “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.” It’s maybe hard for us to appreciate what the Thessalonians were going through. This was during the first persecutions. They weren’t being thrown to the lions. But imagine what it would be like loosing your job and not being able to find work, because you confess Christ as your savior and strive to do what’s right. Or, imagine having your home “legally” confiscated for no other reason than that the judges didn’t like Christians. Or, how could you handle it if your children were being picked on and beaten up just because of your beliefs? One solution to all this might be to get out of Dodge, except the Thessalonians had no where else to go. Or another solution might be to just worship Jesus in your heart, and not let anyone know you’re a Christian by not helping Christians who were in trouble. Well, that’s not what the Thessalonians did. They put their trust in God one day at a time, even while they were loosing everything. Then they prayed together; they confessed their daily sins together; they rejoiced in their forgiveness and their hope of heaven together. And if someone was down to less than one meal a day, they’d share what they had, even though they were close to getting that low too. However, perhaps the most amazing thing of all was this. There was a famine in Palestine, and the Christians there were extremely bad off. St. Paul organized a fund drive among all Christian congregations. Guess which congregation gave the most, so that Paul had to even tell them to stop giving so much? It was the Thessalonians. Now, when you hear about Christians like this, how do you feel? Do you feel encouraged and say to yourself, “If they can do that, I can do it too”? Or, do you feel guilty? Do you think to yourself, “I know I should want my faith to be as strong as theirs, but I don’t want to give up my stuff.” Regardless of which way we feel, know this: on Judgment Day, God is going to point to the Thessalonians and to all who are like them and say, “Look at how they lived. There’s the proof that they had a living faith in me.” You also have a living faith. Sure, maybe there’s a few who are here just to keep their family off their back, but I’m glad they’re here. To the rest of you, God is already proving that you are worthy of eternal life. Through His Word He has led you to express sadness and frustration over not living the kind of life you want to live as a Christian. That sorrow is a sign of faith, just as pride in how well we’re doing actually means we’re not doing that well. Another sign of living faith is having a continual hunger and thirst for God’s Word. And even when our hearts are dead and cold toward the Word, we still want it and we ask God to overcome our deadness and coldness. Love for others is yet another sign of a living faith. I see this in you, because even when there’s nothing in it for you, except maybe a put down, you keep inviting your family and friends to worship. Or, when a brother or sister in Christ is not acting very Christ-like, you patiently put up with it and assume they’re struggling to live a Christian life just as much as you are. On the other hand, when you sense that what they’re doing is hurting their faith, you pray for the chance to talk with them about it. Still one more sign of faith is when even though a person is tired, and stretched way thin, he pushes himself to do yet one more thing to help spread the Gospel or to help someone who needs it, because he figures, “If I don’t do it, who will?” I, as your pastor, see these things going on here at New Hope. This compels me to thank God, because your faith and the fruits of your faith as well as all the things you accomplish are all from God. Also, on Judgment Day, God is going to point to those things and He’s going to say, “There’s the proof that so and so had faith. There’s the proof he/she is worthy of heaven through the merits of my Son.” Now, because it’s God who makes us worthy, and because it’s He how will someday declare us worthy, it’s fitting that we should be both encouraged and concerned. We’re encouraged because now we can look forward to Judgment Day like children look forward to Christmas. Or, if death should come first, we need not fear it anymore than we’re afraid to go to sleep when we’re tired, because when we stand before God’s Judgment throne, He will declare us “justified” and will embrace us. How encouraging as we go through all the things we’re going through, not to mention He is also with us every day and gives us strength! But now here’s what we need to be concerned about. Because of our sinful hearts and because of the deceitfulness of false doctrine, we might give into the pleasures and philosophies of this world and end up like the Egyptians, chanting “I am good. I am good. I am good.” However, going from “God, have mercy on me, the sinner” to “I am good” is a gradual process. The first stage is that we feel guilty about our actions, but we keep doing it anyway. The second stage is we stop feeling guilty. The third stage is we get angry with anyone who points our sins and failures out. Then, as a result, the fruits of faith like the Thessalonians had are will be missing in our life, and we won’t even see that or care. But God sees. Also, while it’s true that a faith even as small as a mustard joins us to Christ and saves us, if we’re in one of these first three stages of sin, how long before we slip into fourth stage of sin, when even that mustard seed of faith dies? So, let’s pray that God work the proofs of faith in us more and more by ever strengthening our faith. In order that this happen let’s be ever faithful in hearing the word, and turning from our sins and holding on to Jesus for forgiveness. Let’s do this because Jesus has promised, “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” Because Jesus is faithful to us, even when we haven’t been faithful to Him, we have yet another reason to pray that He help us to truly live our faith. He is worthy that we live our faith. And so, Jesus will help us. He’ll give us strength a day at a time. He will bless what we do, and then on Judgment Day He will point to our lives as the proof that He helped us. Today when someone who belongs to an organization dies, that organization might write “deceased” behind his name. In ancient Egypt, they didn’t write “deceased.” They wrote “justified” trusting that that person was justified before God by means of his chanting. How sad! All who believed like that were lost, even as are people today, who instead of trusting in Jesus keep chanting to themselves, “I am good.” We on the other hand are truly justified by the merits of Christ and through faith in Him. Therefore, let’s firmly hold to the truth. Let’s live our faith like the Thessalonians did. And finally let’s rededicate ourselves to sharing our faith in everything we say and do. Let’s do this until we too stand before God, and He opens the Book of Life and there finds our name, and behind our name is written in the blood of His Son the word, “Justified.” Amen.

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