In the Name of the Father…Amen.
The Epistle lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
O Christ, our King, we praise You in the Church! When we worship and when we are alone, we adore You. Give us courage to engage in spiritual warfare–against the world, our flesh, and the devil–with the two-edged sword of Your Word, and grant us the victory. Amen.
Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God the Father through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
This festive day in the Church Year we pray will bring great comfort to you who have lost loved ones to death.
Comfort comes through the promise that what to the world appears to be a loss becomes a win for the Christian.
John reminded his readers that the world will bring trouble, but those who are children of God have received the promised hope that death has already been emptied of its power.
Yes, we do have hope!
And we have it in the one who did what it took to make us God’s children:
Our Hope as God’s Children Is in Jesus.
Many apostles had been martyred by this time.
We in the United States have seen only nominal threats.
But it appears the future could bring greater hostility toward the church and, with it, an eroding of our hope.
such as the virgin birth,
life after death,
and divine creation.
Some of us have lost loved ones this year.
It can all cause a continual degeneration of the hope that we have toward the world—and sometimes even toward the promises of God.
Our hope is attacked by our own sinful condition.
No matter how hard we try to cling to the promises of God and the hope such promises bring, we may continue to find ourselves questioning whether such promises could really be for us.
We recognize our sin, and we question,
“Can God really forgive what I’ve thought, said, or done.
Our hope is constantly under attack by the devil and his demons.
The devil is the accuser who will not let our sin go unchallenged and he will not stop until he has accomplished his mission (Revelation 12:10).
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.
The devil seeks to separate us from the promises of God and lead us to despair.
The question he put to Eve in the garden still haunts us: “Did God actually say?” (Genesis 3:1).
But the truth is, we are children of God; yes, in Jesus, so we are!
All Christians face spiritual weaknesses.
It is important to recognize this.
Too often, Christians fail to share their weaknesses with one another, leading to self-doubt:
“Why do I struggle so much while other Christians seem to be doing so well?
Am I really a child of God?”
We are called to carry one another’s burdens as we support and encourage one another in faith.
Instead of looking internally for our hope, we must look to the truth of who we are in Jesus.
Hope that is self-applied will always fail us.
Real hope can never be found inside ourselves or in the conditions or circumstances we observe in our lives.
The only hope that’s guaranteed is the hope that sees what’s been done completely outside ourselves, completely for us:
that is, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Only in Jesus, through the eyes of faith, will we really retain the hope that sustains us.
And here’s what the eyes of faith see:
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (verse 1a).
The “eyes of faith” are really ears of faith that simply hear and believe what God says: “children of God; and so we are.”
What love the Father has given!:
not deserved or earned,
but lavished upon us without any merit or worthiness in us.
It is a love we’ve received, a pure gift from our Father in heaven.
Not a gift we can accept now and toss it away later if we don’t like it.
We are children of God!
God the Father has called us through his Son, Jesus Christ.
We have been incorporated into the family of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, through the Word and the water of Holy Baptism.
True, though “the world does not know us” (verse 1b).
When things go badly, enemies attack us, we may think that means we’re not children of God.
I must have done something bad that God would let attacks happen.
But John reminds how the world treated Jesus:
If the world has treated Jesus in such a way, the children of God should not expect any better.
And amid such suffering, John reminds us to look to Jesus’ resurrection.
And therefore, in Jesus, here is our hope! (verse 2).
We have the hope that, beyond this life, we shall be like Jesus.
One of these days, Jesus is going to appear again, in glory, coming back from heaven for all to see.
We don’t know everything about that day or what life will be like afterward.
And that’s okay!
But we do know that our bodies will be raised, our own real, human bodies, and that our bodies and the bodies of all the saints—our loved ones who’ve died in Christ—will be glorified, like his glorious body, to live together with him forever.
This is certain, because our hope is founded on the reality of Jesus’ incarnation and divinity and on the fact that he completed everything that was incomplete within us.
He entered our stead, became a sinner for us.
He carried our sin to the cross and to death, so that in his resurrection the sin, death, and devil that cling to us would be removed and purified.
Our purity is based in Jesus’ righteousness, not on our righteousness.
All sin is washed away through Jesus’ blood.
While we continue to sin in this life, Jesus continues to cover our sin with his death and resurrection.
Jesus’ has completed the work of our salvation through his ministry.
Yet ours is not only a historical promise.
Through the Divine Service, Jesus continues to deliver the forgiveness of sins.
Such forgiveness empties us of the lies from the devil, the world, and our doubts.
John will not let us forget who we are.
If you need to remind yourself of what John says in our text for this morning, read it every day and memorize it!
Jesus’ forgiveness is perfect apart from anything within us.
This is the hope we have received as children of God.
It is a hope that sustains because of Jesus’ righteousness.
“That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”
A famous line, of course, spoken by Juliet to Romeo during their balcony scene.
Ever stop to think what that means?
She’s speaking an obvious truth: what you call something
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