Sermon: Jude 1:20-25
Sunday of FulfillmentJude 1:20-25
November 26th, 2006 Faith Ev. Lutheran Church Waterloo, IA
Today is the last day in the church year, and it is known as the Sunday of Fulfillment. On this day, we remember God’s promise to return to earth and take us to the place He has prepared for us in heaven. Think about all that you have heard in this church year past. You have heard about the way in which the Old Testament people waited for the Messiah. You have heard that the Savior that they have waited for came in the form… of an infant. You have heard the story of that child growing and proving to be indisputably God in flesh, the fulfillment of every prophecy. You have followed the story as the God-man gave the blind their sight, raised the dead to walk, and showed absolute mastery over nature itself. You followed Him to the kangaroo court, and witnessed Him being convicted of false sins. You listened and heard the one they call Jesus slandered, mocked, and tortured. You felt the darkness and sadness as you saw Him crucified… for you. You celebrated the shocking miracle of His resurrection as you proclaimed that HE IS RISEN INDEED! And you listened as He ascended into heaven, and the Holy Spirit came to bring faith, comfort and hope to those that He has called to be His own.
In our time together, we have spoken of the spiritual warfare we are under. We have talked about fighting the lies of the devil and the wisdom of men with the ONLY source of all truth… Holy Scripture. We have talked here in this room about being conformed to God’s Word, receiving His Sacraments for the forgiveness of sins, and the New Jerusalem, the heaven that awaits us. And now today, we look to the end of all things here on the earth.
This morning we consider the epistle lesson from the book of Jude. Jude, the half brother of our Lord, was concerned about proper focus. Jude believed, as all Christians must, that the end of days could come at any moment. Jude knew that there was no time for poor teaching, no time for distraction, and no time for the compromising of the truth. The focus of the Christian had to be on one simple truth: Christ died for sinners, and you qualify. Sin is your problem, and the death and resurrection of Christ is your solution. Cut and dry, plain and simple. You must die to your own life, and live unto Christ. Jude was going to simply write about these truths to reassure his friends. But trouble was brewing. He had to speak out.
He begins his address to Christian believers with a reminder of their identity. “To those who have been called who are loved by God the Father, and kept by Jesus Christ: mercy peace and love be yours in abundance.” Notice the way in which Jude makes a confession of faith even as he greets them! You have been called by God, are kept by Christ, and mercy and love are yours in abundance. What a beautiful and encouraging way to begin a letter!
“Dear friends,” Jude continues, “although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write to you to urge you to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.” Did you catch it? Jude said that he couldn’t just write pleasantly about what was true; he urged his fellow believers to contend for the faith. Contend against what you ask? To contend against errors and lies. Errors and lies had already begun to creep into the church, and he was warning them to fight. Fight lies with the truth, fight darkness with light.
Jude then proceeds to give his fellow believers a proper history lesson that reads something like this: those who submit to God and His truth find favor in his sight; those who rebel and seek the ways of their own hearts are cut down and destroyed. Jude details the way in which angels from heaven rebelled, and are now judged creatures of wrath and darkness. Jude then gives several other examples of those that live among the believers, but really have no faith. He details those that pollute their own bodies, and slander the Triune God. These scoffers and mockers speak abusively about those things they do not understand. Jude says that they are blemishes at our table, that they are uprooted trees bearing no fruit, and clouds without rain. These men will divide us, he says, because they follow their own natural instincts and are not led by the Holy Spirit.
And so again, Jude urges believers to fight. “Build yourselves up in the faith,” he tells us, “and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you eternal life.” And how do you do this? Well, you build yourself up in the faith by hearing and reading God’s Word. By learning God’s Word, you learn more about who you are, who God is, and what He has done for you. By learning God’s Word, you learn what to pray for. By learning God’s Word you learn about the history of God’s people; your people. And you gain comfort from knowing that God has always delivered those who believed in His name. And despite our sin, He will deliver us too, if we remain faithful to His truth to the end.
Our dear sister Vera finished her fight this week. She was faithful to the end, and the Lord took her to that place He had finally prepared for her. Vera was like the rest of us, sinful and in need of Christ’s perfect love. But oh did she trust in His mercy! But she was baptized, and she believed, and thus you can be certain that she is with the Lord in paradise this very hour.
Little Gracen is just beginning her fight. Mom and Dad have done what God has commanded by bringing her here to have the Lord wash and renew her spirit. Remember now, Travis and Elisha, God’s command was to baptize and to teach. Gracen will need instruction to teach her what it means that she is baptized. That is my job, but it is also yours. Your children will look to you to see what to believe as they grow. I look forward to working with you in these years to come to give this child the tools she will need to fight the good fight of faith in Christ until the end of time here on earth.
Every battle deserves a great battle cry. “The British are coming!” “Remember the Alamo!” “For Scotland and for freedom.” “Don’t tread on me!” One of my favorite battle cries comes from the play Henry the V. King Henry is a great warrior king, and he is leading a small but gritty English army against a French army that was superior in both size and training. Henry can see that the end of the battle is in sight, but that his men are weary from the battle. He exhorts his men to give every last ounce of courage, passion and fire that they can muster. Henry will not relent, and he refuses to let his men to relent either. And he urges those weary souls on. “Once more into the breech, dear friends, once more!” he tells them.
And so it is that I will reach back into history this morning, and steal words from the mouth of the warrior. Dear Christian friends, I urge you in these last days to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. I know that you are weary from the spiritual battles that afflict you in this life. I know the lies and the losses you have suffered from have depleted your strength and will to fight. But once more into the breech, dear Christian friends, once more. Arm yourselves with the Word of God, and contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.
We struggle with our sinful flesh; we struggle with the world around us; we fear about the uncertainty of the remaining days of life here on earth. But once more into the breech, dear Christian friends, once more. I know you are weary, but the end is in sight. No one knows the day or hour, but be on guard! Be alert! Keep watch! Don’t let anyone taint or steal your joy in Christ. The liars are out there strong because the hour is late. Satan is ravenous and looking for his last victories before the end of days. Do not let yourselves be deceived by teachings of works righteousness, or the wisdom of men which is really damnable foolishness.
Do you fear the end of the world and Christ’s return to judgment? Do not fear. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. Keep the message in your hearts today and every day, a simple one. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The actions of our lives have not merited heaven; they have merited only wrath. But Abraham had faith, and it was credited to him as righteousness. And so it is with you. You are righteous, because Christ has declared you to be that way. Your faith and trust that Christ is your Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer and King have given you righteousness.
We are at the end of the liturgical church year. We are told that we are to live as though Christ will return at any moment. We look eagerly forward to the fulfillment of God’s promises to remove us from this vale of tears, and take us to the New Jerusalem, His heaven which you have been promised. Christians, do not fear. Though there are still battles to be fought, Christ has won the war for you. Once more into the breach, dear Christian friends, once more. Contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. The end of the battle is in sight. History proves that God always keeps His word, and you can have every confidence that He will do so again. Once you were an alien people, strangers to God’s heart of love. But He called you out of darkness, and into His most marvelous light.
Go in peace, knowing that He has heard your confession of sins, and has granted you His forgiveness. Remember His words to you as you depart. “And lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the age. Yes, I am coming soon.” Come Lord Jesus! Amen.