The Augsburg Confession, Article I – God

In the Thursday morning men’s Bible study we’ve begun looking at the Lutheran Confessions. They are a collection of documents that mark us as specifically Lutheran Christians. Though they were written close to 500 years ago we continue to use them (and our pastors swear to uphold them) because they are a rightful exposition of the Holy Scriptures. We believe that like Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions can also speak to the common issues of our day as well. The first article of the Augsburg Confession is on God. Specifically, it was written to show that Lutherans are continuity with the historic Christian faith, we hold the same confession that Christianity has held for all time. We believe in one God, yet who exists in three divine persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are of the same essence and power.

On this side of the grave we will never understand the doctrine of the Trinity fully. We must rest content on what is revealed to us in the Bible and know that we will understand more fully in time. Article I of the Augsburg Confession follows:

“1 Our churches teach with common consent that the decree of the Council of Nicaea about the unity of the divine essence and the three persons is true. 2 It is to be believed without any doubt. God is one divine essence who is eternal, without a body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness. He is the maker and preserver of all things, visible and invisible [Nehemiah 9:6]. 3 Yet there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit [Matthew 28:19]. These three persons are of the same essence and power. 4 Our churches use the term person as the Fathers have used it. We use it to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which subsists of itself.

5 Our churches condemn all heresies [Titus 3:10–11] that arose against this article, such as the Manichaeans, who assumed that there are two “principles,” one Good and the other Evil. They also condemn the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Muslims, and all heresies such as these. 6 Our churches also condemn the Samosatenes, old and new, who contend that God is but one person. Through sophistry they impiously argue that the Word and the Holy Spirit are not distinct persons. They say that Word signifies a spoken word, and Spirit signifies motion created in things.”[1]

[1] Paul Timothy McCain, ed., Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 31.


Night of the Daywalkers

Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

In the Marvel Comics Universe there is a character named Blade. He was invented in 1973 but rose to popularity with the film series of the same name in the last 15 years or so. One of Blade’s nicknames is “The Daywalker.” He got that nickname because he is half vampire and half human. His mother was attacked by a vampire while she was pregnant, and the result is that he is turned into some sort of half-breed. He becomes half vampire, but still a good guy. He’s a creature of the night, but walks in the daytime. In the Epistle reading, Paul writes, “You are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day.”[1] In keeping with the theme of the end of the church year we learn from the text that the day of the Lord will soon come like a thief in the night to put an end to darkness, but we have already been made children of the day.


Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.[2] When we last looked at 1 Thessalonians we learned that Thessalonica was the capital of Roman Macedonia. It was surrounded and filled by the wicked practices particularly of pagans, but of the Jews as well. Paul was not able to spend as much time there as he wanted on his second missionary journey, as he was driven out of town by an angry Jewish mob, only to have the same happen in the next town over. And so, he was worried about the new Christians there until he heard a good report from Timothy.

Paul commended them as an example of faith amidst a sea of evil. In addition to temptations to gratify the desires of the flesh as they saw everyone else doing, they had another concern: the return of Jesus Christ. Early Christians believed that Jesus would return immediately, and then when He didn’t, they became concerned that they missed it. This thinking Paul would specifically address in parts of 2 Thessalonians, but at this point Paul writes that the Thessalonians have no need to have anything written about the Second Coming – the return of Christ for judgment against sin and the reunion of all believers. Paul constantly affirms in his writing that he is not teaching anything new, but he teaches what he received from the other Apostles and from Jesus Himself. Part of that teaching was what Jesus said about His own return.

Matthew 24 puts us in the middle of Holy Week. As Jesus left the Temple, His disciples remarked how great the buildings were, and He told them that not one of them would be left standing. This piques their interest and they ask Him what the sign of His coming will be. Jesus gives them a general idea by saying that there will be wars and famines and earthquakes; false prophets will arise and deceive many, and many will fall away from the faith – all things which have already happened and will continue to happen. But to keep them from trying to pinpoint the time, He tells them, “Concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”[3]

This teaching the Thessalonians received from Paul and we receive as well. But, wouldn’t it be nice to know when exactly Jesus is coming? We could have all our ducks in a row; we could make sure that we were behaving like good little Christians. Some, like John Hagee, have put stock in something called the Blood Moon Prophecy. This is the idea that a series of red moons will immediately precede Christ. Therefore, since we can use science to predict these, some say they know exactly when Jesus will return. Now, this is well-intentioned, I’m sure. But, what happens when you have work to do – say you have a task that will take you an hour to do – and you have more than enough time to do it? If you’re like me, you procrastinate. I’ll get this idea that if I can get this thing done in an hour, and I’ve got two hours free, why not spent the first doing whatever I feel like? In that way I make myself comfortable as I gratify my own desire to not do work.


The text says, “While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”[4] Jesus said that the coming of the Son of Man will be like the days of Noah, where people were eating and drinking and being merrily unaware up until Noah was getting into the ark, and the Flood destroyed them all. I like to read the Psalms; Luther prized them and called them the songbook of the Bible. Truly all Scripture transcends time, but the Psalms are especially good at speaking to the core of our human condition. Psalm 73 is one of those Psalms, I think, that just hits the spot. Asaph writes that God is truly good to Israel, but he almost stumbled and slipped out of faith, and the reason was that, “I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”[5]

Job was troubled by this as well. He asked, “Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power…they spend their days in prosperity, and in peace they go down to Sheol. They say to God. ‘Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of Your ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we get if we pray to Him?”[6] Sometimes we ask ourselves, what is the benefit of being a Christian? Why do we come to church? We sing and hear some readings, but how does it impact me, if at all, when non-believers appear to live the same or even a better life? Asaph continues in Psalm 73, “When I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.”[7]

Scripture gives us this comfort, that though it seems like the world has the upper hand, that we Christians are like flies beneath the swatter, the end will come like thief in the night and sudden unescapable destruction will come upon those who say in their heart, “There is no God.” Though it appears they live the prosperous life, their end is ruin. The psalmist wrote, “I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end…I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory.”[8]

St. Paul writes, “But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day…For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.”[9] The end of those who reject God in their heart will come swiftly, and they will not escape. But we are not in darkness. Though we were once in darkness, enslaved to the sin that lurks within and around us, now you are light in the Lord. Those who disbelieve, who get drunk on the desires of their own flesh will not enter the kingdom of heaven. While they are telling themselves, “peace and security,” the end will come.

But God has not destined those in Christ for wrath, but for salvation through Jesus Christ. He is the eternal Son of God. He existed before all creation and all things were created by Him. He took on flesh to die for us, to win for us the salvation that we cannot work out ourselves. He did this to win us for Himself and make us children of the day. St. Paul writes, “Let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”[10] Since we have been bought by the blood of Christ, we are not only assured of our salvation, but we also receive the armor of God. This we need as we continue to be in the world, but not of it. The breastplate of faith and love was been placed upon us to share that faith and love with those around us.

Next week we are having our community meatball dinner. The money we raise from it goes not to us, but to our neighbor in need. In this we are sharing the love that we have through the faith we receive from Christ.

This is the second to last Sunday in the Church year. We’ve been focusing last week and this week on what that means for those on earth. We know that those who live according to the world will receive their just reward. But, we are still tempted and we do envy them. There are so many who live such better lives than us. This is why we have been given the helmet of salvation. Our helmet that protects us from the devil and the world is the hope that in Christ all of our sins are forgiven and that in Him we have obtained salvation.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Thess. 5:4-5.

[2] 1 Th 5:1–2.

[3] Mt 24:36.

[4] 1 Th 5:3.

[5] Ps. 73:3

[6] Job 21:7, 13-15

[7] Ps. 73:16-17

[8] Ps. 73:17, 23-24

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Th 5:4-5, 9–10.

[10] 1 Thess. 5:8

The Three Universal Creeds, Pt. I

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.[1]

A Brief History

In a way, the foundation for the Apostles’ Creed was laid down by Christ when He commissioned His Disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”[1] The Baptismal formula briefly indicates what Christ wants Christians to be taught, believe, and confess. The Apostles’ Creed is evidently an amplification of the Trinitarian formula of Baptism.

During the Medieval ages the Creed was known as the “Twelve Articles,” because they believe that the Apostles gathered together shortly after Pentecost to draft this confession. This is a legend, but it’s not super offensive. Nathanial confesses in John 1, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God,” Peter confessed, “We believe, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn. 6:69). Thomas confessed that Jesus was, “My Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28). These confessions came about through the demand of Christ, “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is even heaven” (Matt. 10:32).

In light of these and similar passages, the formula prescribed by Christ required the candidate for Baptism to give a definite statement of what he believed concerning the things of God. Of Timothy it is said that he made, “the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Tim. 6:12) Right away it seems there acclamations such as, “Jesus is Lord.”[2] These became sort of a litmus test for identifying people as Christians.

Early Christian writers provide proof that from the beginning candidates for Baptism were required to make a confession of faith and there existed in the congregations a regular confession that was used, though we do not have the exact words. The way in which Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin, and many others write suggests that some form of the Creed existed even in the 1st and 2nd centuries. Justin Martyr, who died in 165, writes in about 140, “Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, who also was born for this purpose and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, that we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third.”[3] Language such as this is also used by letters of Ignatius, who died in 107.

Tertullian, who died in 220, writes, “When we step into the water of Baptism we confess the Christian faith according to the words of its law.”[4] The language often used was “canon of truth.”[5] It seems that most congregations had a formula of the profession of faith, though not all were exactly the same. Instead, they were shaped by tradition as they were passed down. The oldest known form of the Apostles’ Creed is the one that was used in the church in Rome prior to 150, though we don’t have it quoted entirely until 331 by Bishop Marcellus of Ancyra in a letter to Bishop Julius of Rome, to show his orthodox faith.[6] It developed as the Church began using earlier Gospel acclamations and adding phrases to it to combat growing heresies.  The creed was originally in the form of question and answer, and Augustine, Ambrose, and Rufinus all testify that the Apostles’ Creed was developed in Rome.[7]

The complete text we have today dates to the 5th century and is first found in a sermon by Caesarius of Arles in France, about 500 A.D.[8] In Luther’s translation of the Creed, “Christian” was substituted for “catholic.”

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mt 28:19–20.

[2] Charles Arand, Robert Kolb and James Nestigen, The Lutheran Confessions: History and Theology of the Book of Concord, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012. 16.

[3] Friedrich Bente, Historical Introductions to the Book of Concord, St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House, 1965. 20.

[4] Ibid., 21.

[5] Arand, 16.

[6] Bente, 23.

[7] Arand, 21.

[8] Bente, 24.

[1] Paul Timothy McCain, ed., Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 16–18.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Text: Matthew 25:1-13

In the first stanza of our opening hymn we sang, “O Lord, how shall I meet You, how welcome You aright…O kindle, Lord most holy, Your lamp within my breast to do in spirit lowly all that may please you best.” (LSB 334) It’s an Advent hymn, but it helps set our minds to the theme of the close of the church year: Christ’s return. Jesus uses the parable in our text to illustrate what His return will be like on our end. He shows us that there will be two types of people, those who are prepared and those who aren’t. He says that the wise virgins were those who had enough oil to keep their lamps lit, and we will see that the lamps of the wise are kept lit by a faith that is continually fed through the Means of Grace, Jesus’ Word and Sacraments.


The text begins, “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.”[1] Jesus often uses imagery of a bride and groom to describe the relationship between Him and His bride, the Church. Earlier in Matthew 9[:15], after Jesus was asked why His disciples don’t fast like John the Baptist’s, He responded that the wedding guests cannot mourn while the Bridegroom is with them. In this He was referring to Himself. The Church is described in Revelation 21[:2] as the holy city Jerusalem, which has been decked out as a bride adorned for her husband.

Perhaps most famously, this relationship between Christ and the Church is described in Ephesians 5. Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish…No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.”[2] What Paul is describing is how we are made the Bride of Christ. On our own and by ourselves we are nothing. We are dead in our trespasses and sins. Our every waking moment is spent either sinning, or wrestling with the temptation to sin. Jesus took that sin upon Himself. He carried our guilt and shame to the cross and died, to present us without spot or wrinkle, as holy and blameless. Through Baptism we are brought into His Church and made members of His Body, which He feeds and nourishes through the preaching of His Word and the administration of His Sacraments to give and strengthen faith.

The virgins in the parable are members of the visible Church, the church on earth. As members of the wedding party they were to keep watch for the bridegroom to arrive and take them to the feast. This was part of an Israelite wedding custom where the groom would go to the bride’s house to pick up her and her friends and then they would process joyfully to the home he had prepared for them. It was just accepted that waiting was involved, and in that waiting there was revealed two types of virgins: the foolish and the wise, split half and half.

The difference between the two is that while the wise took flasks of oil to fuel their lamps, the foolish took only what was in the lamp to begin with. If we look at text before and after this parable, especially the Parable of the Talents, it becomes clear that the oil represents a faith that is being continually fed. The wise virgins are like those who continually hear God’s Word and receive His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of their faith. The foolish are those who say they are ready for the return of the Bridegroom, who believe in Him, and yet don’t ever hear the Word preached or receive the Sacrament.


We continue on, “As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.[3] As the virgins are waiting time began to pass and they fall asleep. As the hours of waiting went on, it seemed to the virgins that the bridegroom was delayed and they became sleepy. Surely at this point the wise virgins were okay, because they knew they had enough oil to carry them through the night; but the foolish haven’t figured, yet, that as the night drags on, their lamps are going to run out.

Then, at about midnight, there was a cry: “The bridegroom is coming! Come meet him!” All the virgins quickly arise from their sleep, when there is a terrible foretaste of the end of the parable. The foolish realized that their lamps were running out of oil, and so they asked the wise to give them some of theirs. The wise responded that there isn’t enough to give them, they cannot share their oil. It suddenly becomes clear, the wise are prepared for the return of the Bridegroom, and the foolish aren’t. The wise are the ones who have kept their lamps fed continually being in the Word of Christ. They have built their house on the Rock, while Jesus says of the foolish, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.”[4]

The wise virgins confess that, as we sang in the opening hymn, we lay in sin’s fetters. And yet, Christ came to set us free. We stood moaning in shame, and yet Jesus came to honor us. In love Jesus came down to win for us the crown of life through His suffering and death in our place. We receive the benefit of His sacrifice only through faith. This He gives to us in Baptism. Faith is nourished in us through the preaching of His Word. He strengthens our faith as He gives us the forgiveness of sins through our His own body and blood. We are the wise. The foolish shun all of these things, assuring themselves that they do not need these things to be a Christian.


And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.[5] The brakes are hit for the foolish virgins. While they were out trying desperately to find oil for their lamps, the bridegroom came. He gathered those who were ready and waiting, whose lamps were lit, and brought them into his feast and shut the door. When the foolish arrive later they beg to be let in, but the only answer that came was “I do not know you.”

The foolish virgins were found without oil for their lamps, without a true and living faith, and then when they wanted to get into the feast, the kingdom of heaven, they were not let in. This is what will happen to those who remove themselves from a faith nurtured and fed by Christ. Here, Christ comes to us in His Word, in the Holy Absolution, and in Holy Baptism. If you want to see Jesus, look to His Word and to His precious Sacrament. It is by these things that we are made the wise virgins and welcomed into the wedding feast.

In the opening hymn we asked how we may welcome the coming Bridegroom, how we may partake of the wedding feast – It is only through the gift of faith that the Holy Spirit gives to us and that Jesus keeps alive in us through the preaching of His Word and the receiving of His Supper. Even as we bear a debt and burden of sin, the temptation to avoid hearing God’s Word, we know that will are covered by His grace. It says in stanza 6, “He comes, for you procuring the peace of sin forgiv’n, His children thus securing eternal life in heav’n.” In Christ you are wise, your sins are forgiven, and you are welcomed into heaven.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mt 25:1–4.

[2] Eph. 5:25–27, 29.

[3] Matt. 25:5–9.

[4] Matt. 7:26.

[5] Matt. 25:10–12.

And So We Are

Text: 1 John 3:1-3

Today we remember and give thanks to God for all those who have preceded us in the faith, especially for the good He permitted Edwin, Geraldine, Imogene, and Ina to receive and to give. They are those who hunger no more, neither thirst anymore, who are shepherded by the Lamb beside springs of living water; whose every tear has been wiped from their eyes. They each have received their crown of life and now live before the throne of God forever. But we are still here. This is a common theme that we’ve been dealing with for the past couple months. While we are here on earth awaiting the return of Christ and the completion of all things, we sometimes deal with disconnect. Things are not always as they seem.

Often it seems that life just goes on, then we die and it’s over for us. Society exhorts us, in fact when you leave this building, it’s like the world is ready to give you a second sermon: telling you to live in the now. St. John wrote our epistle reading, in part, to combat those who denied the humanity of Jesus – saying that He wasn’t really human; He was a spirit. Therefore, they concluded that the flesh was of no concern to eternal life and they lived fulfilling and seeking to fulfill whatever desire they should have. But, St. John writes, “all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world,”[1] and this world and all that is in it is passing away.

But it is not so among you. Our text today reminds us that we are God’s children now. Jesus said in the Gospel last week that the slave does not remain in the house forever, the son does. You, like those who have gone before you in the Christian faith, have been purified by the blood of Christ. You are a co-heir of eternal life. We don’t always look at things that way, meaning that we don’t always see things as they are – that those purified by the blood of Christ have been made children of God and will see Him as He is.


See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” [2] Thus, the words of St. John. He says, see what kind or  what sort of love that God has given to us – that we should be called His children, children of the Heavenly Father. If you know your catechism, this is the idea that comes up every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer. Martin Luther writes that when we say the words, “Our Father who art in heaven,” we confess that “God would tenderly encourage us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that we may ask Him confidently with all assurance, as dear children ask their dear father.”[3]

God loves us in such a way that He brings us into His family, where He becomes our true Father and we, His true children. In confirmation we’ve just been going through the Book of Exodus, particularly the Exodus itself and now the giving of the Ten Commandments. Before He gave the commandments, God went through how He brought the people out of slavery in Egypt to make them His own treasured possession.[4] He says that all the earth is His, but those He rescued out of slavery are His treasure, His children. As Luther says in his catechism, God invites us to pray to Him because we are His children, because He loves us. The word in the Greek is ἀγάπη, love. This is the kind of love that would lead a shepherd to lay down his life for his sheep, the kind of love that would lead a father to sacrifice his only son to receive adopted children as his own.

St. Paul writes, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”[5] We are only able to become the children of God only through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Through His fulfilling of the Law, through His suffering and death, He has reconciled us to God and made us co-heirs with Himself of the kingdom of heaven. In Him we are no longer children of wrath and darkness, but of life and light.

John writes, “The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.”[6] The world scoffs at this, that we have become His children, because it does not know God nor His Son, Jesus Christ. It scoffs at our hope, because it does not know the true God and insists that what we see here before us is all that there is. It says to walk by the senses and the rational human mind, and not by faith. And so it scoffs at the idea of a Father God, the idea that there is God out there who created us, who cares for us and sent His Son to die in our place, who like the father in the prodigal son runs to meet his son who once was dead. We even battle our own flesh over this idea.


Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.”[7] The future, and even the present, looks pretty good for those in Christ. This is where we start to see the disconnect. Even amidst the death of loved ones, amidst crippling sickness and suffering, through personal turmoil, the beloved in Christ are God’s children. Those who hope in Christ have been purified by His blood. In Holy Baptism you were given the gift of faith and the hope that in Christ all things are made new. You were purified by the washing of the water and the Word and welcomed into the kingdom as a child of God.

Those baptized in Christ have put off the sinful flesh, slavery to the desires and passions, the cares of the world – and the temptation to despair and lose hope. Paul writes that while we are on earth we see things like looking through a dim glass, but we will soon see things clearly. The text says that we don’t know entirely what the future holds, but we know that we will be like Christ and see Him as He is, face to face. For us, this is a future reality. We look forward to the time when we will be in heaven, where we will be united with Christ and with one another, and removed from the sorrows of this world.

But for those who have preceded us in the faith, this is their present life. The live before the throne of the Lamb with the multitudes who have gone before them. There is no more crying, no pain, no shame, no suffering, no death, no mourning, just purified perfection. There is only happiness and bliss forever. This is what we look forward to, but we do get a glimpse of it here on earth, even today, even during this service.

Dr. Arthur Just, a professor at our seminary in Fort Wayne wrote a book called, Heaven on Earth. The book is about how our liturgy transcends time and space; it connects us with the saints of God in every time and place, even with those in heaven. The songs that we sing are sung by choirs of angels and the white-robed faithful in heaven as well. Especially are we connected in the Lord’s Supper, in the communion of saints, we feast on Christ’s true body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. We when approach this rail we are connected with those around us here and with the faithful in heaven. It is a foretaste of the future that belongs to us all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Jn 2:16.

[2] 1 Jn 3:1–3.

[3] Paul Timothy McCain, ed., Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 331.

[4] Ex. 19:5

[5] Ga 4:4–5.

[6] 1 Jn 3:1.

[7] 1 Jn 3:2–3.