Online Worship Advent Two – Sunday December 4, 2022
Sermon for Advent Two – Sunday December 4, 2022
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father
and our Lord Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. *
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
Who came in mercy to save sinners,
Who will return to judge the unbelieving,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Precious Blood –
What are the things that make us afraid?
Children – are often afraid of ‘the dark’ and certain fictional monsters. On a different level, they are afraid of disappointing parents and friends. Children are afraid of scorn.
Young People – are afraid of being rejected, labeled. Young people are often afraid of failure.
Adults – are afraid of the future, of retaining jobs and benefits, of providing for their families. Adults are sometimes afraid of the world in which their children and grandchildren grow up.
Many of the things we fear are unreasonable, the result of our own anxiety and insecurity. Nevertheless, our fears are very real...to us. But are the things we fear worthy of fear? There are exceptions, but very often the things we fear aren’t really things of which we should be afraid.
What things should make us afraid?
Children – should be afraid of scary adults in this twisted world. They should be afraid of developing bad habits that will haunt them the rest of their lives...but which they won’t see until it’s too late.
Young People – should be afraid of temptation to sin. They ought to be afraid of making friends with people who will lead them away from the Savior Jesus. Sadly, very often young people think they are invincible and that bad things won’t happen to them.
Adults – ought to be afraid of setting a bad example for children and young people. We should be afraid of putting things off because we figure we will always have time.
Christ is Coming Again...and there are things we should be afraid of and things we need not fear. This morning as we meditate upon the words of Jesus, we should learn to be afraid of making God our enemy by impenitence or indifference or unbelief. For if you make God your enemy, you are at enmity with the one who can cast both soul and body into Hell. On the other hand, we are reminded why we need not be afraid of making God our enemy. God sent His Son to die for your sins and by faith in Him you stand outfitted in Christ’s perfect righteousness.
It is another truly sobering thought...if you make God your enemy you should be afraid of the Judgment. If God is your friend in Christ, you have nothing to fear. So that we may find comfort we begin with prayer:
“Sanctify us by your Truth, O Lord, Your Word is Truth.” Amen.
Do you remember how you felt when your parents first took the training wheels off your bike? If you were anything like me, you probably had ridden for a while with the support and security of the training wheels. It was almost difficult to tip over with them on (almost). But when your dad got out the crescent wrench and removed them that all changed. You would have to go it alone, to balance all on your own without them. Again, if you were like me then you probably took a digger or two before you got the hang of it.
Jesus disciples had been following the master for a while before He sent them out on what we would call a ‘mission trip.’ It was a little like taking the training wheels off the bike. Jesus had always been there with the answer to their questions. He was their support and security. Then the master got out the proverbial crescent wrench and took off the training wheels.
Jesus gave them power to cast out demons and to heal sickness and disease (Matthew 10:1).
Then the master said to them (Matthew 10:5-10, ESV):
“Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.
Lest they get the wrong idea, Jesus warned them it wouldn’t be easy. He soberly said to them (10:16-17, 24-27, ESV):
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues... So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”
We aren’t told how the disciples reacted to Jesus’ words...but I think I know how I might have! “Don’t be afraid of them?” I don’t know about you, but being taken to court and whipped for my faith in Jesus...makes me afraid. I don’t generally go out of my way to experience pain.
“Don’t be afraid of them? Yes, that’s exactly what Jesus said to his disciples. In fact, Jesus repeated it and then told the disciples why they didn’t need to be afraid:
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
Jesus knew the hearts of His disciples. He knew that they were afraid. In fact, his words might be translated: “Don’t go on being afraid.”
We human beings fear death for more than one reason. While some suggest that ‘death is natural, a part of this life’ that’s simply not true. When God first created human beings, He created them to live. God didn’t intend that death be a part of this world at all. God warned Adam and Eve that if they ate of the tree which He forbad to them, they would experience death (Genesis 2:16b-17):
“You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
The Apostle Paul confirms that death came into this world as a result of human disobedience. He wrote to the Roman Christians (Romans 5:12) about the true origin of death:
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.
It’s no surprise then that we are naturally afraid of death. We fear death because it’s something we haven’t experienced and we know there isn’t any ‘do over.’ For us, death is an unscalable wall, it’s a hurdle we can’t jump.
But for Jesus, the Son of God, death is like a doorman who has to listen to His voice. When confronted by the dead daughter of Jairus, Jesus told death, “Open up, give her back.” Death complied. When confronted by a dead friend Lazarus, Jesus told death, “Open up, give him back.” Death complied. On the last day, Jesus will tell death, “Open up, let them all go.” Death will comply.
Since Jesus has power over death, death is like a sleep from His point of view. When we hear Jesus tell us not to fear those who can kill the body, it helps to remember that He has power over death.
The worst that our enemies can do is take our life.
“The worst they can do, Pastor? That’s pretty bad.” It is...but even if they were to end our life...they can’t touch our souls! The life of the penitent thief was taken from him on Good Friday...but his soul entered paradise with Jesus. The life of Stephen was taken when they stoned him to death outside of Jerusalem but his soul departed to be with the Lord Jesus (whom He saw at the right hand of God just before he died, Acts 7:56).
It was the fact that his enemies couldn’t endanger his soul or his relationship with Jesus, that led Martin Luther to write in his famous hymn (262:4):
“And take they our life, goods, fame, child, and wife,
Let these all be gone, They yet have nothing won;
the Kingdom ours remaineth.”
Martin wasn’t saying that He didn’t value these gifts of God. He loved them. He didn’t want them taken from him, but even if his enemies killed the body...they couldn’t touch his soul...he remained a citizen of Christ’s Eternal Kingdom.
Our Lord has power over death. Which is why we need not fear those who can kill the body...but are unable to touch the soul.
Which brings us to our sobering thought...expressed in these words:
“Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. *
Who is the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell? Well, if you were thinking that the Devil is the one who can destroy both soul in body in hell...you’d be wrong. In fact, he himself is to be consigned to hell, and he doesn’t have the authority to confine anyone else...any more than an inmate in prison can lock up anyone from the outside.
Who has the authority to confine anyone to prison? If you think about it, it’s usually the judge or the jury acting as judge, who has the authority to imprison. Who is the one who can imprison soul and body in hell?
God alone has that authority...and if we make God our enemy then we place ourselves at odds with the one who can ruin both soul and body in hell.
It is with real apprehension we ask...how is God made our enemy? He is made our enemy through impenitence. If we were to claim we were without sin or hide our sin instead of confessing and forsaking it...we risk making God our enemy. If we become indifferent – develop a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude toward His Word – then we risk making God our enemy. If we reject His Son and what He has done to save...then we risk making God our enemy.
For it is written (John 3:16-18):
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
If we make God our enemy...and come to the Last Day, the Day of Judgment at enmity with Him...then we face the one who can ruin both soul and body in hell. If we stand before the Judge and are not covered by the perfect righteousness of Christ, then we should be afraid, very afraid.
But now that we’ve come to the edge of the precipice and looked down...let’s step back. God doesn’t want to be your enemy. He proved it by sending His Son into human flesh to be saddled with our sins and die for them.
The Scriptures relate to us the beautiful truth of our reconciliation like this (Romans 5:8-10):
“...God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
Moreover, the same Jesus has commissioned us to proclaim the good news of our reconciliation by His Blood...so that still others may be rescued from the wrath to come.
Christ is Coming Again...to Judge. If you make God your enemy...you have reason to be afraid. If God is your friend by faith in Christ...you need not fear.