Sermon Notes – 28 May 2017

This Is Eternal Life – John 17:3

   My first congregation was Bethany Lutheran Church in St. Louis.  The staff included me and a part time janitor.  I was responsible for preparing, proofreading and printing the weekly bulletin.  Believe it or not, I could have filled volumes of church bulletin blooper books.  One that I particularly regret was an announcement inviting everyone to a major event at Concordia Seminary.  I got all of the information (date, time, location) correct.  All of the words were spelled correctly.  At the end I added: “There will be no admission.”  I intended to say, “There will be no admission charge.”  Big difference between being free and open to everyone (“no admission charge”) or closed and open to no one (“no admission”).

   The Law’s announcement that sin has separated us from God isn’t a typo.  There isn’t a word that has been inadvertently omitted.  It shouldn’t read, “The wages of sin are NOT death;” it is perfectly correct as it is, “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)   There literally was no admission to heaven for any sinner.  As Adam and Eve were barred from returning to paradise after the fall into sin so all sinners would be barred from paradise.  (Genesis 3:24)  As the cherubim with a flaming sword turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life in Eden, so eternal life would be forbidden to all of fallen humanity—until Jesus Christ came. 

   Jesus didn’t come to correct a blooper.  He came to change the situation of sin separating us from God.  He came to lead us back to the Father, to be the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep “that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10-11)  In his Gospel, John wants everyone to understand the unique connection between Jesus Christ and the gift of eternal life.  [John 3:16; 5:24; 6:40; 6:68; 11:25-26; 14:6; 20:30-31]  “Life,” “Abundant Life,” “Eternal Life” are the theme of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They are the goal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They are the result of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

   Even as we were in a predicament of complete helplessness because of sin, Christ changes the scenario completely.  Whereas there had been no admission to paradise, now the admission has been paid on our behalf by Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins.  Now we may eat of the tree of life.  As John saw among the closing visions of Revelation: “Blessed are those who wash their robes [in the blood of the Lamb], so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city [the heavenly Jerusalem] by the gates.” (Revelation 22:14)

   We have brought to a close the 150th academic year of St. John’s Lutheran School, but we do not bring to a close our emphasis of “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  We live in that glorious truth always.  When Concordia Seminary in St. Louis celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1990 there was a special concert by the St. Louis Symphony and Chorus.  Among the music of Bach and Mendelssohn the symphony and chorus presented a Mass composed by Seminary professor Alfred Fremder.  Part of the Mass was the Creed.  Every portion of the Creed concluded with the declaration, “My God has done everything for me, EVERYTHING!” 

   Yes, He has!  God has done everything so that we might be reconciled to Him and have eternal life in His presence.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)  To know that is to know that God has done everything for us in Christ, EVERYTHING!  And to know that is eternal life.

   

 

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