Sermon for the Second Sunday in Advent based on Luke 21:25-36
Dear believers who cling to the Word of God: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” This heaven and earth are not eternal. They will not last. But God’s Word is eternal. It will last.
Therefore, you have a choice of clinging to that which will pass away, or to that which will not pass away. You can cling to the mammon and treasures and pleasures of this life which will all be burned with fire, or you can cling to the Word of God which leads to eternal life. Clinging to that which will be destroyed by eternal fire means that you will be destroyed by eternal fire. Clinging to that which does not pass away means that you will be saved eternally.
God’s Word is eternal. It has been proclaimed on the earth since the beginning. Adam was a preacher. So were Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The preaching of the Word has been since the beginning, and has always been the same: the preaching of repentance and the promise of the forgiveness of sins as a free gift. It has always been about turning away from idols, turning away from that which will pass away and holding fast to that which is eternal, to that which will not pass away.
The first writing down of God’s Word that we have recorded in Scripture, is God Himself writing the Ten Commandments on stone tablets. Over the next thousand years, the rest of the Scriptures were written which we call the Old Testament. Our epistle lesson tells us, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” The Bible was given to us so that we would learn from it, and that we would have endurance, encouragement, and hope.
After a period of silence which lasted four hundred years, God the Father sent His Son into the world. The Word became flesh. God again spoke, and the New Testament was written.
The Old and New Testaments are God’s Word. Everything that is written down in them was inspired by God, so they are free from error. Second Peter 2 says, “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (1:20-21) Everything that is written by men is subject to error. Because God is responsible for the words written in the Bible, it does not have errors. It cannot have errors, because God does not have errors or make errors. The Bible is perfect and reliable.
The Bible is therefore the only authority by which the church, its teaching, and its teachers are to be judged. The church does not decide any point of doctrine. The church is to submit to the doctrine revealed by the Holy Spirit in the Bible. That’s why you cannot have votes on matters of doctrine. A church committee or council or convention or voter’s assembly cannot make decisions on matters of doctrine. A pastor cannot make decisions on matters of doctrine. The entire church must submit to God’s Word as the sole authority on all things spiritual.
That’s why Saint Paul writes to Timothy, “From childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (II Tim. 3:15-17)
Scripture is God-breathed. This means that God is the source of Scripture. It is for teaching. This means it teaches us God’s doctrine. It is for reproof and correction. This means it calls us to repentance over our sin. It is for training in righteousness and equipping us for good works. This means that it teaches us that we are declared righteous by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone, so that we would live a God-pleasing life.
What is it that Saint Paul writes is the main purpose of the Bible? To make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. This is what Saint John also writes, “These things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)
The main purpose of the Bible is not to be a book of rules and commands for us to follow. In fact, the first purpose of the Bible is to show us that we cannot follow the rules and commands God has given us. The second, and main purpose of the Bible is to tell us how Jesus died for our sins so that we have the promise of the forgiveness of sins. These are the two major divisions of the teaching in the Bible – Law and Gospel.
Law and Gospel will never pass away. They are eternal.
The Law of God is eternal because it is the will of God for us which is holy, and righteous, and good (Rom. 7:12). In eternity it will no longer accuse us because we will fulfil the Law perfectly in heaven. We will no longer sin. We will live according to the Law of God in thought, word, and deed.
The Gospel is eternal because it is an enduring message of deliverance from evil (cf. Rev. 14:6). We will no longer need the Gospel because we will no longer need the forgiveness of sins, but its effect is eternal. Because of Jesus’ death for us, we will spend eternity in heaven with Him and see Him face to face.
This is why even though heaven and earth will pass away, God’s Word will not pass away. His will for us remains forever and His promises to us remain forever.
This eternal Word of God makes you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. This eternal Word of God gives you faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and thus gives you life in His name.
Don’t cling to the things of this life that will pass away. Whether God gives these earthly things or takes them away, say with Job, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (cf. Job 1:21)
Cling to God’s Word which is eternal. God’s Word will bring you to eternal life because it tells you about Jesus, the Word made flesh. He joined our human race in order to take upon Himself the sin the kept us away from God. He removed it from us by bearing its penalty in Himself. Christ crucified is the chief and main topic of the Bible as well as of the preached Word of God. He who created all things in the beginning and joined His creation in the fullness of time sends us His Holy Spirit, who daily and richly forgives us all our sins. This is how He keeps us united to Him in faith until the very end. This world will pass away, but the words of Jesus and those who cling to them in faith will endure forever. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.