Sermon for All Saints

Sermon for All Saints

(Transcribed by machine 04/15/2024)

These are they who have come out of the great tribulation.
They’ve washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
You may be seated.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Dear confirmands, I want to see if I can find you, Garrett and Krista, Jonathan, where are
you Jonathan?
Over here.
Ah, gotcha.
Brandon, are you back there with him?
Yep.
Tony, Mandy, Clayton, there’s Clayton.
Dear friends of Jesus, today we rejoice to hear your confession of faith in Christ and
to join you at the table of the Lord’s grace and mercy.
This is where the Lord Jesus feeds us, His own body and blood.
you could hardly imagine a more precious food, but He feeds this to you not as the most precious
thing that He gives in the supper, but as a pledge and a guarantee of something even
more precious, and that is this promise, that all of your sins are forgiven.
The Lord Jesus wants you, conformance, and all of you, saints, to know this.
That He does not look on your sins.
That He does not look on the commandments that you’ve broken.
That He does not look upon your transgressions, your corruptions, your evil wickedness, your
sinful thoughts and words and deeds, all the things that you should have done that you
didn’t.
The Lord does not look at these things.
He looks instead at you through the blood of Jesus.
He has clothed you.
There’s a custom in the ancient church that when you were going through confirmation,
you would wear a sackcloth.
Maybe we could bring this back next go-around, Pastor LeBlanc.
You’d wear a sackcloth for the whole time that you’re being confirmed, and then when
the confirmation was over you would take off the sackcloth and you would be dressed in
a white robe.
And this is from the text in Revelation 7 that talks of those who have come out of the
Great Tribulation and made their robes white in the Lamb’s blood.
This means that you, all of you, all of the baptized, every single Christian, is ready
if you can imagine it, to stand before the Lord and to be judged.
Now, that’s a fearful thing, to fall into the hands of the living God, but we’re ready
for that because Jesus has taken our place in that judgment on the cross, and now He’s
forgiven us.
He’s made us perfect and holy.
I want to think about this this morning, especially in the context of death, because, well, it’s
All Saints’ Day.
It’s the day when we remember all those treasures that we have stored up in heaven, those saints
that have gone before us, and now they’re called to what the old theologians called
the nearer presence of God.
They behold Him face to face.
They sing His praises.
We’ll hear a little bit more about it from Revelation 7 in a little bit.
They have died, and we remember them.
I think that, at least for me, when I remember those who have gone before us, when I stand
before the altar in a few minutes and read their names, it’s sad.
And we think of death in this way, as a sadness.
But the Lord comes into that thinking of death and changes it.
Now, to get what the Lord does, I just want to contrast it.
The way we as Christians think about death, I want to contrast it with the way that the
world thinks about death, because I think the world, I mean the world doesn’t want
to think about death, but it kind of has to, right?
And I think it’s funny, I mean if we can look and say to our culture, hey, you guys
are goofy when it comes to death.
For example, on the one hand, you pretend like you’re never going to die.
You hide death away.
And when someone is dying, we kind of tuck them away in the corner so that nobody has
to see it.
So we pretend like death isn’t even really a thing until October, and then we decorate
our front yards like cemeteries.
It’s weird, I think, and really bad cemeteries with like bones sticking out of the grass
and like ill-kept tombstones and all, it’s kind of a weird thing the way that the world
thinks about death.
And then this is also strange, because while the world wants to pretend like death doesn’t
even exist, it also sees death as the solution oftentimes to problems.
For example, if there’s a child that’s not wanted well, or if someone’s old and in intractable
pain, then death seems better than pain.
Even though the world thinks that death is it, and once you die you’re dead, there’s
nothing after death. Dead is dead. Yet it also sees it as better than suffering. It’s
kind of amazing. It shows you who the God is of this world. But when we look at the
world and we say, you guys have a really dysfunctional relationship with death. But I think the world
could also make that accusation of us, at least at first glance. Because the world, those
who do not believe in eternal life or heaven, might look at Christians and say, look, we
We can’t figure out what you guys think about death either, because on the one hand,
you go and march around the capital in the March for Life, you talk about how every single
person is precious from the moment of conception until natural death, and you’re always fighting
against what you call the culture of death, trying to make it illegal to bring abortion
to the womb, or euthanasia to the elderly, or to… you know, you’re always fighting
for life in all these ways.
You have your commandment, you shall not murder, and you expand it to all sorts of different
things.
You say it’s better to suffer and live rather than to die and end suffering.
You say all these things.
You act like death is the great enemy.
In fact, you teach that death is the punishment for sin.
It’s not even natural, which is true.
The Lord says on the day that you eat of it, surely you’ll die.
The wages of sin is death.
You say that death is the enemy, but then, when it’s time to die, you’re happy about
it.
And you get together and you sing hymns.
And you rejoice in those who have died before.
What is it, Christians?
Do you like death or not?
Is it your enemy or your friend?
Is it evil or good?
Yes!
If you can imagine death is like a guy who sneaks around your house at night and he’s
trying to break in, and you lock the window, and you lock the door, and you send the dog
to chase him off, and you do everything to prevent him from sneaking into the house until
he goes around front and knocks on the front door and then you let him in.
That we are fighting always against death, that’s what the Lord has set us in this
world to do.
You shall not murder.
He protects the gift of life.
The Lord honors this as the greatest gift that He gives to us, our life.
But then, when it’s time to die, we rejoice.
We in fact long for that day.
It’s what we desire.
Paul says it like this, for me to live is Christ, to die is gain.
And I desire to depart and be with the Lord.
I saw Frida this week in the nursing home.
She’s at rehab and she says, Pastor, I’m ready to go home, and you know what I mean.
And this is the Christian’s desire.
Look, the science and the world can’t say anything about what happens after death.
It’s just you can’t get there.
There’s no evidence for what happens, but we know what happens after death.
It’s in the book.
The one who died and was risen from the dead came back and told us, and we have this beautiful
picture of how it is for those who are in the Lord, how it is for them when they also
die.
And here’s the main thing, and I think the chief point, that we and all the world knows
that after death there is something like a reckoning,
something like a judgment.
Our conscience tells us this.
It’s like all the old stories,
like the old ghost stories that you used to tell
around the campfire at night where you’re running
and you hear the footsteps chasing after you
and they’re getting louder and louder.
That’s in our own conscience.
We know that something is chasing us down
and that thing is death and we know that after death
there will be something of an accounting.
Every person knows this.
And the Bible says it like this, it’s appointed for man once to die and then to be judged.
And that is a fearful thing for sinners, to be judged, because we know that we’re guilty.
But for you, it is not fearful, because Christ has been judged in your place.
Because He has already gone through that judgment.
This is the business of the cross, because He took everything that you’ve done wrong,
everything right that you’ve failed to do,
Every law that you’ve broken, every unclean thought, word and deed, every failure, everything
wrong, He’s taken that all on Himself and carried the weight of it and the suffering
of it and the wrath of God of it in your place so that now that bloodshed that was pressed
out of Him on the cross by your sins, that blood now for you is cleansing and forgiving
living, and makes you holy.
The picture from Revelation 7 is this.
If you can imagine that at birth you’re issued a robe, a white robe, and every time you sin,
a stain gets on that robe.
Every time you fail to love, there’s a little tear in that robe.
And imagine just your whole life, you’re wearing that robe.
Imagine the stench of it, the filth of it, it’s not even white anymore, you can’t
even recognize that it’s a robe, it’s just filthy threads, and you’re wearing that,
and now you have to appear before the King of the universe in those robes, but on the
way, there outside of the king’s hall is a bowl, a golden bowl filled with blood,
and you say that my robe is already dirty enough, I don’t need to make it
worse, but the angel points to this vat and you take this robe and you dip
this robe in this blood of the Lamb and it comes out of the blood perfect.
Every tear mended. Every fray fixed. Every stain washed. Every one of them. Every sin
forgiven. And you’re wrapped in this robe, fit to appear before the King. So there
There is no judgment for those who are in Christ.
There is no condemnation for those who belong to Him.
It’s already passed.
The verdict has been spoken.
Your sins are forgiven.
And this is what takes the sting out of death.
Because for you, when you die, you do not go to face the judgment.
You go to face the one who was judged in your place who is waiting for you.
We long to be there.
Now this does not mean that we do not mourn.
I want to be clear on this thing because all of us, especially when we think of those that
we’ve lost in this last year and those that we’re mourning in our lives, we think, well,
they are in a better place, so maybe I shouldn’t be sad about it, and that’s just not true.
I mentioned this earlier that I’ve been at deathbeds where people have been dying and
they’ve said to their family, they said, look, I’m going to a better place so I do not want
you to cry.
Don’t cry when I die.
And then we get to the funeral and I’m standing here in the pulpit and I’m preaching to the
family and they’re sitting right here in the first row and their faces look like this.
Trying to hold back the tears, like trying to suck the tears back into their eyes with
their minds, you know, they feel bad because they’re crying.
Now I want to free you up on this.
Not only is it okay to cry, but in fact it is good to cry.
Jesus, who never did anything wrong, wept, and he wept when Lazarus died, and they saw
him and they said, look how he loves him.
In other words, we mourn in this life, and this is what mourning is.
Mourning is the shape that our love takes when the object of our love is gone.
So we mourn, but we do not mourn without hope.
We do not mourn without confidence.
We do not mourn without faith.
We do not mourn without the assurance that the Lord who has brought those that we love
through death to life eternal is also bringing us through death to life eternal.
eternal.
So we mourn with joy and peace and hope in the Lord who is also gathering us to the throne.
So how do we Christians think about death?
We fight it because we love life, but then when death comes, we rejoice.
grace, the Lord brings us through death to eternal life.
And there is no fear in death, because there is no fear with the Lord who loves us.
Who are these dressed in white robes?
These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation.
They, you, have washed your robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
God be praised, amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Jesus
Christ our Lord, amen.