Thursday, December 4, 2008

The apacolypse of Jesus

First Wednesday in Advent
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Bror Erickson

[3] Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
[4] I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, [5] that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— [6] even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— [7] so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, [8] who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. [9] God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor. 1:3-9 (ESV)

This was the Epistle lesson for Sunday. As I was contemplating it and its relation to Advent it was the last part that stuck. As you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

As you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. Revealing the Greek uses the word Apocalypse, which is much more colorful in the English language, conjuring up images and movies. I always liked that movie “Apocalypse Now.” This is what we wait for. We wait for the Apocalypse of Christ, His revealing. The end of time, the end of days. Judgment day when Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead. We don’t get bogged down with the Jewish myths (Titus 1:14) of millennial kingdoms and all that jazz. We know we are in the end days. We know because the New Testament tells us that even the days of the Apostles were the last days the days before the end. We don’t wait for a secret rapture or anything of the like. We wait for the apocalypse, the end, the revealing of Christ to the world. That is what the church does. We wait and we wait patiently knowing the end is near. It could be today yet, it could be tomorrow, and God could wait another thousand years or more if He wants. Either way we wait, patiently knowing the end is near.
Many are tempted to think Paul was off his rocker concerning the end of time. They look to all sorts of prophecies. You even find secular and non Christian predictions of the end in today’s check stand, meant to create panic amongst the people. Get them to prepare for the end. They tell you to stock up on food, water, and other such nonsense. I mean all that is good if you are preparing for an earthquake, a flood, a hurricane. But not much use at the end of time.
That is what we wait for, the end of time, knowing that Jesus sustains us to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. You see on that day the only preparation that is going to matter is the preparation of your soul. There won’t be any need for food and water, clothing, guns and ammo, and all that. That stuff is for this world. And it is good for this world. But it isn’t any good for the next. It will be consumed with this world. So I don’t get to panicked when I read the doomsday prophecies of Nostradamus, Green Peace, or some other wack job of an organization out there. I know the world is going to end, and I’m ready for it. Though I might like to see a few others ready for it. That is I would like to see some others come to life in Jesus, that is faith.
Jesus sustains us to the end. He does. Ultimately this is even true of the physical blessings we have been given. But more so it is true in regards to faith, and the life of our Spirit. He sustains us in the faith that prepares us for that day. We always think it is us. That we have to be doing this or that to keep ourselves prepared. We go to Church, we read our Bibles, we do our devotions, partake in the sacrament. It is true we do do those things, even as we plant trees in the spring, or go on vacation. But we do those things knowing that it is Jesus that is really doing the work. Jesus works through those things to sustain us in the faith. He sends His Spirit to us in these things to sustain us forgiving us our sins daily and richly as He does with the whole church on earth, sustaining the life in our soul. So on that day when He comes to judge the living and the dead, we will be judged to be among the living even if we had been dead a thousand years, having died in the faith, that is life in Jesus.
You see when we say we believe that He will come to judge the living and the dead, we do not mean that He will judge all those who have a pulse and all those who don’t. As all will be resurrected on that day, all will have a pulse. But the living will be those who have faith, life in Christ, and the dead will be those who do not have that life the faith in the one who is the way, the truth, and the life. But just as we could not bring ourselves to come to life, but were quickened in Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit who called us by the Gospel and sanctified us with His gifts, so we live by the work of the Holy Spirit, who works constantly, and continually through those very same things that brought you to life in Christ in the first place, that is, the Gospel and the sacraments. No one comes to faith outside of these things, and no one finds sustenance for their faith outside of these things. We do not find sustenance for the faith in works, or in the law. We may abide by these things and do them, but we cannot abide in them. We abide in the gospel and the gospel alone. We abide in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who forgives us our sins, and sustains us with that forgiveness.
He sustains us with forgiveness so that we will be guiltless in the day of our Lord. This can only be by the forgiveness of sins that we would be guiltless in the day of our Lord. Only by the forgiveness of sins. For we daily sin much. Is it not true? Even our good works, the good deeds that we do, should they be done outside of Christ would be like polluted garments as the sanitized ESV puts it in the Old Testament Lesson for this last Sunday, Isaiah 64, the sixth verse. We sin in thought word and deed. If we are at all honest with ourselves we know we sin daily. We get angry at our fellow man for nothing more than waiting too long at a stop sign. We lust after women and men who are not our spouses. We cheat and steal in our business transactions, in fact we would probably go broke if we didn’t. I dare say we can’t hardly survive in this world of sin and death without sinning. So we need constantly to be forgiven. And so Christ constantly forgives. He forgives us through His word, through the gospel that brought us to life, and he forgives us through the sacraments, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, sustains us on the forgiveness of sins found in his body and his blood. And He sustains us in these ways to the end, when we are found guiltless in the day of our Lord. Not because we have managed to abstain from sinning, not because we have managed to do enough good works to cancel out all our sins. But because Jesus Christ forgives us our sins. Because God who called us into the fellowship with his son Jesus Christ our Lord is faithful, faithful even when we are not, faithful to forgive, as we wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now the peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord Amen.


steve martin said...

I never tire of hearing that sweet Word of forgiveness...never.

(maybe because I never tire of sinning!)

Nonetheless, I am His. I am baptised. He loves this sinner. Hates my sin...but He died for that!

Brigitte said...

Midweek Advent services--wonderful!

Bror Erickson said...

Your Church up in Edmonton doesn't to midweek Advent services? We almost cancelled ours we had five this last week. but I tend to insist on them even if we are all singing acappella. It isn't advent without them.