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All Saints

1 John 3:1-3

Rev. Andrew Eckert

23th after Trinity
Our Savior Lutheran Church  
Stevensville, MT

Sun, Nov 7, 2021 

What a wonderful thing it is to be the saints of God!  It is such an amazing miracle because it is not something that we worked hard at and achieved.  Instead, the Father has loved us so much as to name us His sons, purely as a free gift of His grace.

We should not be His sons.  The honor of being adopted as children of the Father is so undeserved by us that it is ludicrous.  We should be objects of wrath.  Each of us has rebelled against the Father in our sinful pride.  Damnation should be our final destination, since that is what our sinful souls have earned. 

We wanted no father or lord over us at all.  We all wanted to be our own boss, our own lord.  We wanted to be independent, able to forge our own destiny and choose our own path.  The problem is, the only paths such rebellious minds could choose are sinful paths of destruction.

Ever since Adam and Eve, all men have been doomed in this way.  After shattering the image of God with which we were created, we should have been locked out of the house of our heavenly Father forever.

But no, He instead receives us with love.  Why?  What mystery is this?  What divine secret is behind this incredible reversal of fate?  The mystery is the new birth of the Holy Spirit.  By Godís Word, sometimes combined with water, we have been recreated as sons of God.  The image has been restored.

We are not restored as children because we have become good enough in ourselves.  Instead we are restored and adopted because we have faith in Christ.  His merits and work, not ours, have brought us this miracle.  We trust in Him because we could do nothing, yet He has done everything.  In Him, the perfect Savior, the obedient and holy Son, only-begotten of the Father, we are made new.

Yet we hold this promise with hope.  In other words, we look with longing to something still in the future.  Our present is blemished by the sins that our sinful flesh still produces, even though we are truly sons of God through faith.  But faith believes what it does not see.  We do not see that we are righteous sons in ourselves, since we are still sinners.

Yet we will be complete on a Day that is coming.  We will be released from this body of death and sin.  Then we will be like Him.  That is what Saint John says, but He does not specify who ďHimĒ is.  It is natural to assume that it is Christ Jesus our dear Lord.  Of course we shall be like Him, raised as He is, covered with His glorious holiness as He was on the Mount of Transfiguration.  We shall be like our Lord in complete sinlessness and deathlessness on that wonderful Day!

But Christ is not mentioned in our text directly.  The Father is mentioned by John a little bit earlier.  In the context, it is therefore likely that John is saying that we will be like the Father.  And that is true just as much as that we will be like Christ!  For if Christ is the exact image of the glory of the Father, and we are in Christís image, then we also will be the image of the Fatherís glory.  The image of God will be fully restored and revealed in us.

We long so much for that Day when everything will be made right!  We desire to have our lowly bodies transformed to be like the majestic Body of our Lord.  How could we not want this transformation?  At the same time that we will see the Father and the Son revealed to our eyes, we also will be crowned with honor and splendor, as He is.  We will not be God, yet we will be fully and completely in the image of God, openly, for everyone to see!  What a glorious Day!  What a wonderful gift we sons of God will inherit!

Since these things are true, therefore we purify ourselves.  The hope we have in Christ for the resurrection could not leave us acting as if we do not care if we live pure lives.  How ridiculous that would be!  No, we have received such an awesome and fantastic gift of adoption through faith in Christ, that most certainly we will cleanse ourselves in our words and deeds.  It is impossible that we would not.

The world, on the other hand, finds it impossible not to try to lure us sons of God into their way of life.  The world wants us to defile ourselves with every sinful pleasure.  The world wants us to be lured by fleshly desires.  They want us to share with them in the abominations that give them joy.

But we have an example before our eyes who is Christ the Lord.  He, our Brother, is perfect and pure in every way.  How could we not want to be like Him?  He is the Man who released us from sinís entangling chains by His Blood.  How could we want to put those chains back on?  Instead, our calling and duty as children of God is to put every effort into purging away every sinful thing in our lives.

As we fail and feel sorrow at our failures, we turn again to Christ for forgiveness.  As He speaks to us and gives us His Spirit, we strive even harder to live in God-pleasing love.  We go on purifying what God has already declared pure.  We are not discouraged, even when satan whispers to us what a failure we are and how we have stained our lives with endless sins.  Then we can laugh at satan and say, ďOf course!  Yes, I have sinned abundantly.  Yet in Christ I have been declared a son of God, so great is the love of the Father for me!Ē And satan hates those words, because they are the words of our victory over all darkness and sin, forever and ever.  Amen.

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