More / Book of the Month / You are a saint/ Matthew 5:1-12; Revelation 7:9-17 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht/ Sunday November 7th 2021 / All Saints Day Observed/ Mount Olive Lutheran Church

You are a saint/ Matthew 5:1-12; Revelation 7:9-17 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht/ Sunday November 7th 2021 / All Saints Day Observed/ Mount Olive Lutheran Church




You are a saint/ Matthew 5:1-12; Revelation 7:9-17 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht/ Sunday November 7th 2021 / All Saints Day Observed/ Mount Olive Lutheran Church

 

Text: Matthew 5:1-12; Revelation 7:9-17
Theme: You are a saint

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Intr – I remember the first time I heard that I am a saint. I was somewhere between 10 and 11yo and pastor de Azevedo was teaching us pre-confirmation classes in Sao Leopoldo, Brazil. At some point of the class he fired off the question: “Did you know you are a saint?”, which both shocked and made me curious at the same time.

Let me give you some context. If you were born and raised in Brazil, chances are that you grew up linking the saints to their characterization as found broadly in Brazilian folk culture, like I did for most of my early life. In that concept, saints are those who led a perfect life, being life models in everything, and which in some cases you can pray to in order to obtain grace and favours, since they have done so many exceeding good works in life. Also, there is one of those saints for each day of the year, so I thought that since there are so many of them the Church decided to have a day when everyone else would be included – All Saints’ Day.

How would I then think that I was a saint? How many people would fit in that description?

        Short answer: zero. Peter, Mark, Luke, Mary, Paul, all those the Christian Church calls St. are so considered because they led a life in Christ. But they all had mistakes, shortcomings, and failures, just like all of us. In that popular understanding of a saint, Ambrose Bierce’s definition could also be used: “Saint: a dead sinner revised and edited”.

        Back then, Pastor de Azevedo went on to quote Romans 1:7 to prove his point: “You were called to be saints”. And of course, it was there all along in the Apostle’s Creed I recited every Sunday but never realized its real meaning: I believe in the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of saints.

       I am a saint. You are a saint. In Christ. What does that mean? And how does that impact our lives in this world?

 The Saints

Who are they? Short answer: people who are in Christ by faith. Sinners saved by Grace.

Detailed answer: Matthew 5, Revelation 7.[1] And many other passages, since the Bible is very very rich in describing who we are: “The answer to Who am I? defines your identity and life purpose. We are told in Ephesians 2:10 that we are “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” (…)Your core identity is rooted in the forgiving, saving, and redeeming work Jesus did on your behalf when He hung on the cross. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, we learn that “God made [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Scripture is full of descriptors of your identity: “dearly loved” (Colossians 3:12), forgiven (Romans 4:7), chosen (John 15:19), “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9), the apple of God’s eye (Psalm 17:8), “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), heirs with Jesus (Romans 8:17), friends (John 15:14), and many more.” [2]

Death and Eternal Life

        On All Saints’ Day we take some time to reflect especially about the saints who went ahead of us in faith to be with Christ – even more especially, our loved ones. Then, it’s inevitable that questions of death and eternal life come to mind. And it is good that we revisit this topic every so often, because our cultural context throws curve balls at us every so often on it which might lead us or people around us to confusion or false hopes.

        What is it that as Christians we believe about life and death? Here is a summary of it:

1.   We live one life only;
2.   When we die, our soul goes to be with Jesus. We don’t become stars or angels, we don’t look down to Earth and we don’t come back in another body in another life. We are resting in Jesus waiting for the last day.
3.   We will live in the New Earth and New Heavens;
4.   Life eternal will be…eternal.[3]

       Living in Christ doesn’t only let us know this truth about life and death in the distant future. It also impacts our whole life already here.

      Think about this: building a House, entering a championship, starting college; even hoping in a car for a vacation trip. What do they all have in common? We begin them with the end in mind. It would be terrible to start those things without an idea, a plan, or even the certainty about where we are headed to, how it ends, how things will be when we get there.

    Eternal life is our greatest hope. But it doesn’t start only after we die, “let’s see what happens”. It starts in Baptism/Conversion. We begin our Christian life with our end in mind.

Baptism - Our eternal life has started in our Baptism or conversion. We are already Christ’s and he says whoever believes in Him HAS eternal life. Already/Not yet.

Life of repentance – The Church is the Hospital for sinners. Being a saint impacts your life in that you don’t always need to be right. You are not always right. You are a sinner who recognizes your dependence on your Saviour on a daily basis. Simul Iustus et peccator(We are sinners and saints at the same time).

Life in Christ doing his will – “You are my friends if you do what I tell you”. Because we are saved, it doesn’t mean that what we do doesn’t matter. Our life is a reflection of our faith. Faith saves alone, but faith is never alone. Living as a saint impacts the world in which we live in – even if it is only the world of our street or of our family environment.

Sharing the Gospel to make more saints – In this hospital of sinners, the Church, we never run out of beds, never are short staffed and we are always healed of our spiritual illnesses.

        As saints in Christ, we know that death is not a period, a full stop. It’s a comma. There’s more after it. We live as saints because we live in Christ. We die as saints because we die in Christ. And we will live forever in Him because he has promised us forgiveness of our sins. And where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life everlasting.

Cc – Saint: A sinner saved by Grace who by the power of the Holy Spirit lived his or her faith in practice, serving God and our neighbors.   I’m so glad I’ve learned that back then, and I love learning more and more about it. Now, do you know how many fit in that description? Thousands. Millions. A multitude like the sand of the sea. All those who washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. We live as saints in this life, knowing that there is our great hope, already in our hearts, waiting for its consummation: new earth and new heavens.

       Do you think life is good? I think so too. But wait until you see the life that is yet to come.

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[1] Matthew 5:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Revelation 7:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white min the blood of the Lamb.  
www.esv.org

[2] Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. Lead Like Jesus Revisited: Lessons From the Greatest Leadership Role, p.26
[3]_God is love, will he condemn people to Hell? God is love. So much so that he gave His only son to die for everyone. How many mothers and fathers would be willing to give up their son to die for all persons, no matter who? God did this. And he offers His Forgiveness to all, all the time, during all the days of our life. On the Last Day, he will be just and do what he said He would.
_Death is not the beginning of eternal life. It’ll happen when body and soul  will be reunited, on the Last Day.
_Our greatest hope is not that we die and go to heaven. When we die, we are in Jesus, which is something Great. But our great Hope is on the last day – the resurrection of the dead and then life everlasting.
_A funeral is not the celebration of victory of a person, but plain law preaching of the biggest effect of sin – death.
_Not everybody that dies go to a better place. Eternity is decided by the presence or absence of faith in Christ
_What happens between death and the last day? We don’t know all the details but we know that we will be in Jesus awaiting for the last day


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