A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on November 18, 2007 by Pastor Dale Raether We Shall Be Saints TriumphantII Thessalonians 2:13-3:5I’d like to begin this morning with a little history of how Satan has always been attacking God’s Word. We’re going to call this: Satan’s lies. His first attack was in the Garden of Eden. He said to Eve, “Did God really say…” Here Satan was trying to convince Eve that God didn’t love them. It worked. Eve listened to Satan, but then God brought her back to Himself by promising a Savior. Satan’s next lie apparently was that God doesn’t keep His Word, and so it’s safe to sin. God defeated that lie by sending the Flood. After the Flood, Satan then got most people to believe that there are many different gods they could worship instead of God. God proved this one false by raising Jesus from the dead. Satan then counter attacked by trying to insert false books into the Bible that, redefined who Jesus is and what His resurrection means for us. Perhaps you’ve heard of some of these books. One was The Gospel according to Judas. I’m not including this attack on our list, because very few people then were taken in by it. And so, Satan switched tactics. He got pastors and teachers to put human traditions above God’s Word, so people would trust in their traditions instead of in Christ. This tactic worked for many years until the Reformation. After the Reformation, Satan began convincing people to put human reason above God’s Word. They called Rationalism or the Age of Reason. This lasted until Darwin, who ushered in the modern, Scientific Age. During this time science was placed above God’s Word. However, notice, I just said was. A lot of people today are saying we’ve moved on from the Scientific Age into what’s called Post-modernism. According to Post-modernism, truth is not what tradition says, it’s not what human reason says, it’s not even what science says. Truth is whatever feels right to each individual, and so truth is different for everyone, and it’s all true. With Satan using so many different lies, how can the church grow? Or, how can we as individuals hold on to our faith and pass it on to our children? It’s not easy, and it’s not going to get any easier, especially if the Muslims have their way. However, in spite of all of this we can be confident that We Shall Be Saints Triumphant. 1. Rejoice in how God brought us to faith. 2. Hold firmly to all the teachings of the Bible. 3. Pray for one another. We read in our text, “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.” The Thessalonians coming to faith was a miracle. Paul had stopped at Thessalonica during one of his missionary journeys, and for just three Synagogue services in a row showed from of the Old Testament that Jesus is the Christ. Well, the Jews didn’t want to hear that. And so, they hired some bad people to start a riot, hoping the mob would murder Paul. When the mob couldn’t find Paul, they convinced the police to arrest the man, in whose house Paul had been staying. Three weeks of bitter opposition is not a good way to start a new congregation. Who in the world would want to join them? Yet some did, because in eternity God loved them and choose them for faith in Jesus. These Thessalonians knew that there coming to faith was a miracle, because there was just no other explanation for their believing. In our text the Thessalonians needed to be reminded of this, because at the time Satan was trying to insert his false books into the Bible. On the other hand if the Thessalonians would remember how they came to faith, they wouldn’t want to let go of their faith to follow some goofy nonsense that’s the total opposite of what God says. It’s good for us also to remember how we were brought to faith. Maybe God saw to it we were born into a Christian home. Or, maybe our home wasn’t too Christian, but God used a friend or even a stranger to bring us to His Word. Either way, deep down we now believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth. We believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. We believe in the Holy Spirit. It’s amazing when we think about it – that we can believe that God is three persons, yet one God. The miracle of our faith is proof that God also loved us from eternity otherwise it’d be impossible for us to believe. However, that God loved us in eternity doesn’t mean Satan is going to leave us alone. No, he keeps right on attacking us with all his lies. Nevertheless we can be saints triumphant, if we hold on to everything the Bible teaches. We read, “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.” Here again is that list of Satan’s lies. Let me share with you now how we can defeat each of these lies. The first is that God doesn’t love us. We might wonder that if everything in our life is going wrong and never getting any better. Or, we might wonder that if our conscience is accusing us because of things we did and now death is getting closer. However we can be saints triumphant by looking to the cross. Jesus’ cross is all the proof we need to know He loves us and has forgiven us.Satan’s next lie is that it’s safe to sin, especially since Jesus paid for all our sins. It isn’t safe to sin. Sinning harms our faith and corrupts us to sin more and more. Yet we can be saints triumphant by confessing our sins to God and asking Him to forgive us for Jesus’ sake. As we do this, we will grow in faith, and as we grow in faith, God will make us stronger and stronger against temptation. Satan’s next lie is that there are many different gods. Very few people still believe that, unless we define a god as also money and things. Most Christians wouldn’t admit to worshipping money and things. Still that’s what they’re doing when for the sake of money and things they neglect their worship of God. However, we can overcome this temptation taking God’s warning to heart. He says, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” We’ve often seen this in the lives of the rich and famous. But if their millions can’t buy them happiness, why do we sometimes we’ll be happy if we have just a little more? And so, let’s not fall for that lie, but let’s keep holding on to our treasures of the Word!However, let’s make sure our treasure really is God’s Word, and not just empty traditions. Traditions are empty when they’re not centered on Jesus or when a person draws his comfort from the traditions instead of from Christ. For example I remember one man up north who was confident he was going to heaven, because he was confirmed. Unfortunately he never went to church. I asked him about that, and he defended himself by saying that he read his Bible at home. So I then asked him when was the last time he read in his Bible. He said 50 years ago when we was confirmed. Notice again what this man said. He didn’t say, “I hope to go to heaven because Jesus lived and died for me.” Rather, “I hope to go to heaven, because I’m confirmed.” Traditions don’t save us. Christ saves us, and so let’s keep growing in His Word. However, if we strive to keep growing in His Word, Satan may try a yet another tactic on us. He’ll tempt us to think that we’re smarter than the simple Word. For example, today we’re celebrating the Lord’s Supper. Does the bread and wine merely represent Christ’s body and blood, or is His body and blood truly present in, with, and under the bread and the wine? Human reason says it merely represents. God’s Word says it is. If we keep listening to our human reason, the teachings of the Bible will go down for us like dominoes. On the other hand if we just use our human reason to discover the word meaning in its context and so forth, we will hold to all of the teachings of the Bible, and then we will grow in faith and we be saints triumphant. Okay, so maybe we’re settled on not adding or subtracting from the Bible or changing its meaning. Well, that’s when Satan might come at us with his lie that the Bible simply is not true, science is. I’ll grant you, there are things in science and history that seem to contradict the Bible. However there are lots of gaps in our knowledge of science and history. And there are also lots of things that used to seem to contradict the Bible, but upon farther study no longer do. If the Bible is God’s Word, it is all true. But if the Bible is false on even one point, then God is a liar or doesn’t even exist. Also, if science is all there is, we are just animals or evolutionary accidents. On the other hand we can defeat this lie of Satan and we can be saints triumphant, if we confess as Peter did, shortly after Jesus’ resurrection, “Lord, you know all things.”Satan’s latest attack against God’s Word may not seem all that appealing to us – namely, that truth is whatever each person thinks it is. Unfortunately a lot of Christians are falling for this. For example, there are many today who would say pre-marital sex or homosexuality or an affair are not sinful, as long as the couple loves each other. Here’s what God says, “The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God.” We can be saints triumphant over the lie that truth is whatever each person thinks it is by continuing in the truth. When we look at Satan’s armory of lies, it’s scary. Will we be faithful even to the point of death? Will our children and grandchildren? But this brings us to one more thing we need to do, so that we’ll be saints triumphant. We read on in our text, “Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. 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’s important that we keep praying for one another. Pray that God keep directing our lives to keep us in the Word and to bring us back to His Word should we ever stray. Pray for pastors and teachers and for all who speak His Word that they may speak it clearly and exactly. Pray because God wants to work through our prayers. Also, pray because He is faithful. He loved us in eternity; He sent His Son as promised; He called us to faith through His Word; and now He is eager to bring to completion what we started in us. Therefore pray! Pray that’s God’s Word be received by others. Pray that their faith be protected from Satan’s lies. And so that we can keep praying, let’s stay in the Word for ourselves. That word will not protect us and fill us with such joy and confidence in the Lord that we will be saints triumphant, and then through us God will call yet many more to be saints triumphant. God grant it! Amen.

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