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Children Of God

November 6, 2022 Pastor: Rev. Timothy Landskroener

all saintsImmanuel (Augsburg) Lutheran Church
Shobonier, Illinois
All Saints’ Day (observed)
November 6, 2022
1 John 3:1-3

Children of God

            Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we will be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2 ESV)

Dearly Beloved Children of God,

      On this All Saints’ Day, we hear St. John tell us that “we are God's children now.” What a wonderful thought! “We are God’s children now.” But what does this mean? What does it mean to be a child of God? How does it come about? What does it mean for our lives?

      Beloved, don’t think it trivial or unimportant to be a child of God. For there was time when you were not His child. There was a time you were dead in trespasses and sins. There was a time when you “walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” There was a time when “we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind.” There was a time when we “were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Eph. 2:2-3). There was a time when we were enemies of God because we wished to be a friend of the world. (James 4:4).

      “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ . . . 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 4:4-7). That’s what it means to be a child of God - now.

      So, as the children of God, we are blessed. Blessed beyond measure. Because Christ Jesus died for us, because He took our place under the wrath of God, because He suffered the punishment we deserve, we are truly blessed. Because our life and salvation rests solely in Jesus, we are poor in spirit, knowing that we have nothing to offer to God. We know that “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment, [or filthy rags]. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” (Is. 64:6). “Nothing in my hand I bring.” That’s why we are blessed to know Christ who “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9). Yes, to be a child of God, to be blessed, is to be in a condition of receiving good from God. And such a condition comes only from God Himself.

      We are blessed because God comforts us when we mourn. He comforts us when our loved ones die and depart this world. And His comfort is shown in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. In that blessed event, He shows to us that all who die in Christ will also rise with Him. And isn’t that what we celebrate on this Feast of All Saints? Those who have died in the Lord live with Him, even as they await the resurrection of the flesh on the Last Day. And while that is a present reality, we don’t see it yet. But we certainly have the promise that “when he appears we will be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” That’s the blessed hope of a child of God.

      We are blessed because God promises the new heaven and the new earth to those who are His, to those who know their beggarliness and trust in Christ Jesus alone. Indeed, such a realization allows for no boasting in ourselves, but only in the cross of Christ.

      We are blessed because God fulfills our deepest needs. When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we yearn for that which only God can give. And what is that? Forgiveness, life, and salvation. That’s what He gives us in the Word and Sacraments, especially the Lord’s Supper. He gives us to eat and to drink that which fills and satisfies a hungry and thirsty soul.

      We are blessed because we have received mercy. God does not give us what we deserve. Instead, He gives us mercy. He forgives our sins. He removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. He clothes us with robes which have been washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. He gives us a seat at His banquet table and serves us with the food of eternal life.

      We are blessed because He creates a pure heart in us. And with such purified hearts, we shall see God. That’s His promise. He purifies our hearts through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ and through the Holy Sacraments by which He forgives sins and bestows His righteousness.

      We are blessed because God has made peace with us. He sent His only-begotten Son to establish that peace by the shedding of His holy, precious blood. In that sacrifice of the Lamb of God, God’s wrath has been appeased and His justice satisfied. We who were His enemies are now His children. And how can we not proclaim that peace to all we meet?

      We are blessed because we suffer abuse from the world and the devil. As the prophets and apostles were so persecuted and abused, so we too can expect to suffer for the sake of Christ. If the world so treated Christ, how blessed are we when we are treated as Christ was. After all, we are not greater than our Teacher, our Savior. And yet, our Lord promises to be with us and to sustain us through all these tribulations. That’s why we can rejoice and be glad even in the midst of suffering and persecution. We are the children of God now, and we look forward to wearing a white robe and waving palm branches before the throne of heaven. Yes, we are most blessed indeed.

      So as we rejoice in being God’s children now, how do we show it? How do we live as a child of God? Certainly by imitating Christ. We eagerly come to His House to receive from Him His gifts which nourish us in the faith. We seek His blessings in the forgiveness of sins in the preaching of the Gospel and in the Sacraments. We listen to His Word and take it to heart. And what does His Word say? “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matt. 5:9). And since we are children of God now, since God has made peace between us and Him, let us so make peace with others. How can we do that?

      Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. . . . 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32).

This includes being reconciled to one another - whether you were hurt or offended by someone, or you hurt or offended someone else. And if that person has tried to reconcile with you and you have refused, repent. Don’t put it off any longer. Be reconciled to one another and live in peace.

      Yes, Beloved, we are children of God now. Ponder that and rejoice in it. And while we don’t yet see the full reality of that divine truth, we trust in His Word, knowing that all who trust in Him will never be put to shame. One day we will see Jesus as He is and we shall be like Him. Because we are children of God now, we look forward to spending eternity with the saints singing: "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen." (Rev. 7:10, 12). Amen.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.