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“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:21-23

Not all who call Jesus, “Lord,” will enter God’s eternal kingdom. Not all who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ truly are Christian.

We can think of groups who take the name of Jesus on their lips and claim to hold to His doctrine but who do not believe in Him as their Savior and Redeemer. It is not enough to look to Jesus as an example, as a son of God, or only as a lord and master.

But Jesus spoke these words that we, too, might examine ourselves and be certain we are holding fast to Him in faith and trusting in His innocent sufferings and death for our salvation.

The Scriptures admonish us: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves” (2 Cor. 13:5).

It is not enough to just take the name of Jesus on our lips and call Him Lord. It’s not enough to preach in His name or do miracles or good works in His name. Jesus says we must do the will of His Father in heaven.

What is that will? Jesus answered that question for us when He said, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).

It is the will of God the Father that we sincerely repent of our sins and wickedness and place our faith and confidence in the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of the Son, Christ Jesus our Savior. It is the will of God the Father that we not only see Jesus and take His name on our lips but that we believe and trust in Him and continue trusting in Him unto life everlasting.

Jesus called upon His hearers to repent and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15; Matt. 4:17); and He still calls upon us today, through His Word, to turn from our evil and rebellious ways to Him for forgiveness and life.

The Bible tells us to “repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord…” (Acts 3:19).

And, where there is true repentance, there are also “fruits meet for repentance” (Matt. 3:8). Those who are sorry for their sins and place their faith and hope in Jesus Christ will also, as a fruit of their faith, seek to live their lives for Him in accord with his Word.

Thus, as Jesus said, many who have professed to know Him will be cast out on the Last Day, for their repentance and faith were feigned — they may have even deceived themselves. They may claim to be followers of Jesus, but they are not truly sorry for their sin and unbelief and do not turn to Christ Jesus for forgiveness. Nor do they seek his help and strength to amend their lives and live for Him.

And then Jesus will, as He said, “profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Jesus spoke these words in His Sermon on the Mount that we might not be deceived and find ourselves cast out on the Last Day. We, therefore, ask ourselves if we are truly sorry for our sins; if we trust in Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross for our salvation; and if we, with the help and aid of the Holy Ghost, truly desire to amend our lives and live in accord with God’s commandments. If we cannot honestly answer all three of these questions with a yes, we need to consider the consequences we shall pay for our sin and rebellion against the LORD God and His anointed.

How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation as God has provided for us in His own dear Son (Heb. 2:3)? Or, as the Bible says in Hebrews 10:29, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”

But how comforting it is to know that we can yet, by God’s grace, turn to the Lord Jesus for mercy and He will not cast us off but wash away our sins! Because Jesus suffered and died for all sins and rose again, the Lord is indeed “good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon” Him (Psalm 86:5).

O Lord Jesus Christ, keep us from impenitence and unbelief and grant that we sincerely repent of our sins and trust in You for mercy and forgiveness that we may be received into Your everlasting kingdom and not be cast out on the Last Day. And as a fruit of our faith, grant that we also seek to walk in accord with Your commandments while we await Your return. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible]

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15th Anniversary of ELDoNA

INVOCATION
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

PSALM — Psalm 25 A Psalm of David.
Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old. Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD. Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant. Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net. Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses. Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins. Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

COLLECT
O GOD, the Strength of all them that put their trust in Thee: Mercifully accept our prayers: and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing without Thee, grant us the help of Thy grace, that in keeping Thy commandments we may please Thee, both in will and deed: through Jesus Christ. Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.

EPISTLE — 1 John 4:16-21
God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him. because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

GOSPEL — Luke 16:19-31
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

SERMON/DEVOTION — Luke 16:19-31
We should note first of all that Jesus’ illustration of the rich man and Lazarus may be much more than a parable, for it is told by Jesus as if it is a true and factual account. But, whether an actual historical event or a parable, we can still learn much from Jesus’ telling of it.

The rich man is not identified by name; but the poor beggar’s name was Lazarus (from the Greek, but probably Eleazer in Hebrew), which means “God is help.” Even though Lazarus was poor and full of sores, we know that he was a true believer in God, as his name indicates, because he was taken to heaven when he died.

Even though the rich man was greatly blessed by God in material things, he did not believe or listen to the Word of God (Moses and the Prophets) and repent of his selfish and sinful ways. This can be seen by the fact that there were no fruits of faith in his life in regard to poor Lazarus, who was laid at his gate, and also by the fact that his soul went to hell when he died.

In addition to teaching that one’s soul goes either to heaven or to hell when he dies, Jesus warns against living one’s life solely for the selfish enjoyment of the good things of this world. One’s first concern should be to heed the Word of God and repent, turning away from sin and the selfish use of this world’s goods to faith in Christ, who died to redeem us from sin and death and then rose again.

As a fruit of true repentance, we will then put to death our selfish and sinful desires and use the goods of this world to help those in need. We will not close our hearts to the poor and needy but will do all we can to help them.

One more important truth should also be learned. If one does not heed the Word of God during his lifetime, there is no other hope for repentance; for the Holy Ghost works through the Law to convince us of our sin and the punishment we deserve and through the Gospel to reveal our Savior and to give and assure to us forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

If one, during his lifetime, refuses to turn from his sins to Christ Jesus, his Savior, there will be no more opportunity for repentance. His torment in hell will be forever!

But when one, by the grace of God, heeds the Word and repents, trusting in Christ for forgiveness and life, he is forgiven by God; and his soul, at the time of death, will be transported by angels to the bosom of Abraham.

O Jesus, who my debt didst pay and for my sin wast smitten, within the Book of Life, oh, may my name be also written! I will not doubt; I trust in Thee, from Satan Thou hast made me free and from all condemnation. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn 611, Verse 5)

GENERAL PRAYER
Almighty and Everlasting God, You are worthy to be held in reverence by all the children of men, we give You most humble and hearty thanks for the innumerable blessings, both temporal and spiritual, which, without any merit or worthiness on our part, You have bestowed upon us.

We praise You, especially, that You hast preserved unto us, in their purity, Your saving Word and Your holy Sacraments. And we give thanks unto You for 15 years of blessing upon the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America. We beseech You, O Lord, to grant and preserve unto Your holy Church, throughout the world, purity of doctrine, and faithful pastors who shall preach Your Word with power; and help all who hear, rightly to understand, and truly to believe it. To that end, we pray Your blessing on Bishop Heiser, on our pastors, and on all the pastors of our diocese.

Be the Protector and Defender of Your people in all time of tribulation and danger and may we, in communion with Your Church, and in brotherly unity with all our fellow Christians, fight the good fight of faith, and in the end receive the salvation of our souls.

Bestow Your grace upon all the nations of the earth. Especially do we entreat You to bless our land, and all its inhabitants, and all who are in authority. Cause Your glory to dwell among us, and let mercy and truth, righteousness and peace, everywhere prevail. To this end, we commend to Your care all our schools and pray You to make them nurseries of useful knowledge and of Christian virtues, that they may bring forth the wholesome fruits of life.

Graciously defend us from all calamities by fire and water, from war and pestilence, from scarcity and famine. Protect and prosper everyone in his appropriate calling, and cause all useful arts to flourish among us. Be the God and Father of the widow and the fatherless children, the Helper of the sick and the needy and the Comforter of the forsaken and distressed.

We pray for all those ill from the coronavirus, from other diseases or afflictions, or suffering from the effects of isolation. Grant health and healing to those ill and comfort all with the Gospel promises of forgiveness of sins and the everlasting joys of heaven through faith in Christ Jesus, Your Son, and our Savior.

And as we are strangers and pilgrims on earth, help us by true faith and godly life to prepare for the world to come; doing the work which You have given us to do while it is day, before the night comes when no man can work. And when our last hour shall come, support us by Your power, and receive us into Your everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Ghost, forever and ever. Amen.

LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven; Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

BENEDICTION
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. Amen.

HYMN — The Day is Surely Drawing Near
1 The day is surely drawing near
When God’s Son, the Anointed,
Shall with great majesty appear
As Judge of all appointed.
All mirth and laughter then shall cease
When flames on flames will still increase,
As Scripture truly teacheth.

2 A trumpet loud shall then resound
And all the earth be shaken.
Then all who in their graves are found
Shall from their sleep awaken;
But all that live shall in that hour
By the Almighty’s boundless pow’r
Be changed at His commanding.

3 A book is opened then to all,
A record truly telling
What each hath done, both great and small,
When he on earth was dwelling;
And ev’ry heart be clearly seen,
And all be known as they have been
In tho’ts and words and actions.

4 Then woe to those who scorned the Lord
And sought but carnal pleasures,
Who here despised His precious Word
And loved their earthly treasures!
With shame and trembling they will stand
And at the Judge’s stern command
To Satan be delivered.

5 O Jesus, who my debt didst pay
And for my sin wast smitten,
Within the Book of Life, oh, may
My name be also written!
I will not doubt; I trust in Thee,
From Satan Thou hast made me free
And from all condemnation.

6 Therefore my Intercessor be
And for Thy blood and merit
Declare my name from judgment free
With all who life inherit,
That I may see Thee face to face
With all Thy saints in that blest place
Which Thou for us hast purchased.

7 O Jesus Christ, do not delay,
But hasten our salvation;
We often tremble on our way
In fear and tribulation.
Then hear us when we cry to Thee;
Come, mighty Judge, and make us free
From every evil! Amen.

Text Information
Title: The Day is Surely Drawing Near
German Title: Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit
Translator: Philip A. Peter (1880, alt.)
Author: Bartholomäus Ringwald (1586, ad.)

Tune Information
Name: ES IST GEWISSLICH
Source: “Geistliche Lieder,” Wittenberg, 1535

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (Acts 2 from the KJV — Pure Cambridge Edition)

1. What does the Bible tell us about the Old Testament feast of Shavuot (Weeks) or Pentecost? See Ex. 23:14ff.; 34:22f.; Lev. 23:15ff.; Deut. 16:9ff. Why is it called Pentecost? By what other names was it called? Who was required to be in Jerusalem at the temple for this feast?

2. What happened on the Pentecost following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension? Did the disciples choose to speak in tongues? Who was administering this sign? How is this different than the tongue-speaking which some claim and promote today? Cf. 1 Cor. 12:1ff.

3. Why were the people gathered in Jerusalem amazed and confounded? What did they hear and see?

4. What did some say was the cause? How did Peter answer that accusation?

5. What did Peter say was happening? What Old Testament prophecy was being fulfilled?

6. Read Joel 2:28-32. How was this prophecy fulfilled by what happened on the Day of Pentecost? What parts of the prophecy continue to be fulfilled today? Which parts are yet to be fulfilled and when will that happen? Cf. Matt. 24:29ff.; Luke 21:25ff.; Rev. 1:7; 6:12ff.

7. What does Peter say about Jesus? What had happened to Him? Why? Who witnessed His resurrection? See v. 22-24.

8. What Biblical proof does Peter offer for his claims about Jesus? See v. 25-28 ; Psalm 16:8-11. What does David say of Jesus?

9. How does Peter prove that David was speaking of the promised Messiah (Christ) and not of himself? See v. 29-31. What application do David’s words have to us as believers?

10. How does Peter’s preaching relate to Jesus’ words in Luke 24:44-48?

11. What does Peter tell the people of Jesus in v. 32-36? What other Scripture prophecy does Peter say is fulfilled in Jesus? Cf. Psalm 2:4ff.; Psalm 110:1.

12. What does Peter tell his audience of Jews and God-fearing Gentiles in v. 23 and v. 36? How are we also guilty of the same? Cf. Isa. 53:6.

13. What was the response of Peter’s hearers? What did they ask Peter and the other apostles? How does God’s law have a similar effect on us today? See v. 37; cf. Rom. 3:19-20.

14. What did Peter call upon his hearers to do? See. v. 38-40. What does this mean for Peter’s hearers and for us today? To whom do Peter’s words apply? How does that relate to the baptizing of infants and children?

15. What does it mean to repent? Why were they to be baptized? What does it mean to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ? What blessings were promised? Cf. Matt. 28:19; Acts 22:16; Tit. 3:3-7; John 3:3-8; Gal. 3:26-29.

16. How do these words apply yet today? Do we still call upon people to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus? What is an untoward generation and do we live in one? Cf. v. 40.

17. What was the result of Peter’s Pentecost sermon? How were these the first fruits of God’s harvest?

18. When were those who heeded Peter’s message baptized? Why? Cf. Acts 8:35ff.; 22:16.

19. In what did the first disciples continue? See v. 42. What does this mean? How should this apply yet today?

20. What does v. 43 mean? Why did this happen? Cf. Mark 16:15-20. Why does God not need to work such signs today?

21. What else did the early church in Jerusalem do in response to the Gospel? See v. 44-45. Why? Are we still required to do this today? What are we commanded to do in regard to our fellow believers?

22. How did the early church in Jerusalem meet without a church building? Is there anything we can learn from this today? How did this make it possible to preach the Word to all and yet pray together, fellowship and partake of the Lord’s Supper among the believers?

23. Why were they able to be together in gladness and singleness of heart? Who made this possible?

24. Who added to the church daily? Who adds to the church today? How? Cf. Rom. 10:17; John 6:63; AC V.

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“The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.” John 6:52-59

How can one eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood? The Jews did not grasp Jesus’ meaning, nor do many in our day.

Jesus is not indicating that Christianity is some kind of cult in which the faithful literally eat human flesh and drink human blood. Even in the Lord’s Supper, participants do not chew Jesus’ flesh and drink and digest His blood. Rather, as they partake of the bread and wine, they partake of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for the sins of all the world — His body given into death for our sins and His blood shed for the remission of our sins.

But Jesus’ words in John 6:52-59 are not a specific reference to the Supper Jesus later commanded His followers to observe in remembrance of Him and His innocent sufferings and death on their behalf. The Lord’s Supper had not yet been instituted when Jesus spoke these words. And, if He were referring specifically to partaking of the Lord’s Supper, then those not able to partake of Christ’s Supper, regardless of the reason, could not be saved and have life in them.

Rather, Jesus here refers to partaking of His body and blood by faith. The children of Israel ate of the manna from heaven and yet died. Those who partake of Jesus’ body and blood — of His sacrifice for the sins of the world — by faith in Him have eternal life and Jesus will raise them up on the Last Day!

Jesus says in no uncertain words, “For my flesh truly is food, and my blood truly is drink” (John 6:55 translated literally from the Greek).

The one who partakes of Jesus, the Bread of Life, by faith — trusting in Christ Jesus who gave His body into death for our sins and shed His blood upon the cross to make atonement for all our iniquities — has forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. As Jesus said, “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.”

People look to Jesus for earthly bread. They come to Him in hopes that He will provide them with all their earthly wants and desires. But few recognize that Jesus came into this world to provide us with heavenly food — with food which nourishes our souls unto life eternal.

Jesus came into this world to fulfill the righteous demands of God’s law for us. And He came to be our sacrifice for sin — to offer up Himself on the cross as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He gave His body into death upon the cross in full payment for your sins and my sins. He shed His blood upon the cross as our sacrifice for sin and made full atonement for us and all the world before the very throne of God.

The question is this: Do you partake of Him? Do you trust in His holy life and His innocent sufferings and death for the forgiveness of all your sins? If you do not partake of Jesus, you can have no life in you; you are eternally lost and condemned. If you do, through faith, partake of His flesh and blood, you have the forgiveness Jesus won for you when He gave His body into death and shed His holy and precious blood to make atonement for your sins and redeem you.

When we, in this way, eat His flesh and drink His blood, Jesus dwells in us — not in the sense that He enters our mouth and passes through our digestive system, but in the sense that He comes into us and gives us life in fellowship with the Father.

It’s really as simple as this: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12).

If we partake of Jesus’ holy life and His bitter sufferings and death for all sin by placing our trust and confidence in Him, we have life. Jesus Himself comes to us, dwells in us by His Spirit, and gives us spiritual and eternal life in fellowship with the Father. If we do not partake of Jesus and His sacrifice — if we go it alone and on our own, so to speak — we remain dead in our sins and under the wrath and condemnation of God.

In John, chapter three, Jesus says it this way: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (v. 15-18).

Those who believe and trust in Christ Jesus, the eternal Son of God made flesh, are saved and have life because Christ gave His body and shed His blood for the remission of all sins. They partake of His body and blood and of the benefits Jesus won for them through faith.

On the other hand, those who do not trust in Christ’s body and blood given and shed for all mankind are condemned. Why? Because they reject the only way of salvation God has provided for them — in His Son!

Jesus said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).

Jesus gave His life for you. His body was nailed to the cross to suffer for your sins and mine. He shed His blood for you when He made atonement for the sins of the whole world. His flesh is food indeed and His blood is drink indeed to nourish our souls and to give to all who partake of Him through faith everlasting life!

God grant you to partake of Jesus, the Bread of Life, and to drink of His blood shed for the remission of your sins through faith in Him! Then, you will have life!

O merciful Father, grant us faith in Messiah Jesus, the Son. Grant that we eat His flesh and drink His blood through faith, trusting in His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. Amen.

“Jesus, the Bread from Heaven”

“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.” John 6:60-71

Jesus had told His hearers (John 6:53-58): “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.”

Jesus’ words were hard for His hearers to understand and accept. How could Jesus give them His body and blood to eat and drink? What did Jesus mean by these words? How could partaking of Jesus give eternal life? How could Jesus say those who didn’t partake of Him had no life?

All these things were above and beyond the understanding of Jesus’ hearers. It’s not that they are so difficult to understand. Rather, they are spiritually discerned and sinful human beings cannot understand apart from the gracious enlightening of the Holy Spirit. It was as the Bible teaches, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).

Thus, the people asked, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (John 6:52). They did not understand who Jesus was or that He was about to go to the cross to suffer and die for the sins of the world. They did not know and believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and would offer Himself up for sin and then rise again from death in victory. They did not understand that Jesus was inviting them to partake of His body given into death for them and His blood shed for the remission of their sins through faith in His sufferings, death and resurrection on their behalf.

Without partaking by faith in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, they could have no life in them. They remained dead in their sins and lost to God and to His everlasting kingdom! But all this seemed foolishness to them; they didn’t understand and believe. They didn’t partake of Jesus’ body and blood given and shed for them, but went away in unbelief and were dead in their sins.

When the Word of God is preached today, the result is many times the same.

“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:13-14).

When we preach and proclaim that all are sinners and that only in Messiah Jesus is there salvation, people are offended and turn away. They do not see and recognize their own utter sinfulness in God’s eyes. Nor do they understand that the only way for sinners to be saved is to partake by faith of Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world by His innocent sufferings and death on the cross. And so, rather than acknowledge their own sinfulness and shortcomings, people turn away from their only Savior and refuse to partake of Jesus and His sacrifice for the sins of the world.

What was true when Jesus spoke to the Jews in His day remains true yet today: “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.”

Even a good number of Jesus’ own disciples were offended at Jesus’ words. They were not ready to acknowledge their own sins and failures before God. Nor did they believe that Jesus was God the Son in human flesh come into this world to go to the cross and redeem mankind. The preaching of the cross and partaking of Jesus, their sacrificial Lamb, by faith was a stumbling block to the Jews — it wasn’t the kind of Messiah for whom they looked.

And with the apostle Paul, true followers of Jesus still proclaim “Christ crucified” today, though this preaching remains to the Jews, a stumbling block, and to the rest of the world, foolishness (cf. 1 Cor. 1:23). They do not take hold of the truth because they can’t apart from God’s Spirit. And if people can’t understand and believe the works Jesus did here in this world, how could they begin to understand His glorious workings in heaven, at the right hand of God the Father?

Jesus said, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.”

Jesus’ words — His teaching and doctrine — were spirit-breathed. They were God’s own words and His divine wisdom. They were and still are spiritually discerned. With our own flesh and human understanding, we cannot begin to grasp the divine truth proclaimed by the Lord Jesus. We cannot come to Jesus and trust in Him for salvation unless God the Father graciously grants this to us. In our spiritual darkness, we ask, “How can Jesus give us His body and blood? How can we partake of Him? How can eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood by faith give us eternal life?”

Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life.” It is the Spirit of God who, through the Word of God, reveals our utter sinfulness and how far short we have come of God’s perfect righteousness. And, it is the Spirit of God who, through the Word of God, assures us that Christ Jesus fulfilled the righteous demands of God’s law for us and then went to the cross and suffered and died for our sins and the sins of the whole world and rose again on the third day.

The Spirit of God reveals to us Jesus, our Messiah and Savior, and moves us to partake of His sacrifice through faith — trusting that, because He gave His body into death for us and shed His blood for the remission of our sins, our sins are indeed paid for in full; atonement is made. The Spirit of God assures us that in Christ Jesus, through faith in His name, we have forgiveness for all our sins and life everlasting. It is the Spirit of God, working through the Word, who points us to Jesus and says, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Many of Jesus’ disciples, because they didn’t grasp His words and the truth of God, turned back and quit following Jesus. Today, many, because they don’t grasp Jesus’ Word and the true doctrine of God, turn back and quit following Jesus. Even entire “churches” and denominations turn aside from the truth of God’s Word and quit proclaiming it because they do not understand and believe. Since the truth of God’s Word is offensive to them, they’d rather not hear it proclaimed.

What about you? Will you also turn back from following Jesus? His Word and His teaching are not always easy for us to accept and embrace. His Word reveals just how sinful we are, and it tells us that our ways are not God’s ways.

Simon Peter answered Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus still has the words of eternal life! His Word reaches out to us with the good news of God’s gift from heaven, the only-begotten Son who went to the cross to bear the just punishment for the sins of the world. Jesus calls us to partake of Him by faith — of His body given into death for us and of His blood shed for the remission of all our sins. He promises us that when we partake of Him by faith, we will not be condemned along with the wicked world in which we live but have everlasting life in His heavenly kingdom.

It is as the Scriptures declare: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).

God grant to you His Holy Spirit and enlighten your eyes to the truth of His Word that you might not turn away from following Christ Jesus, but humbly acknowledge your sinfulness and partake of Him and His sacrifice for sin by faith that you might also partake of the forgiveness and life eternal Christ Jesus won for you.

O merciful Father, grant us faith in Messiah Jesus, the Son. Grant that we eat His flesh and drink His blood through faith, trusting in His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. In Jesus’ holy and precious name. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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Psalm 68:18

Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men …

Acts 1:1-11

1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Meditation

Thursday, May 13, is Ascension Day, a Christian festival often forgotten by churches today. It is the day to remember Jesus’ ascension into heaven and the fact that He now rules over and fills all things (Eph. 1:17-23) and will soon return to judge the living and the dead and establish His everlasting kingdom. Today, we consider the words of the angels to Jesus’ disciples when Jesus was taken up into heaven.

This Word of God, which was spoken by angels to the disciples who had just witnessed Jesus’ ascension into heaven, teaches us that Jesus Christ will return visibly in the clouds of glory on the Last Day. The Bible also says this in Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”

As Jesus ascended into heaven, so He shall also return on the Last Day, the Day of Judgment. He will come again in clouds of glory. Every eye will see Him! His return will be no secret rapture — both the believer and the unbeliever will see Him coming in glory!

In Matthew 24:29-31, we read: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

But, are you ready for His return and judgment? Are you prepared to meet Him?

Those who do not trust in Him for salvation will wail in sorrow at His return because they stand condemned for not trusting in the only begotten Son of God. In John 3:18, we read: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Mark 16:16 says: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

And, in 2 Thess. 1:7-10, God’s Word says: “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”

But those who do trust in Christ Jesus as their Savior — believing that they have pardon for their sins and peace with God for the sake of Christ’s innocent sufferings and death in their stead — will rejoice at His return because He comes to take them to be with Him forever in the mansions of heaven.

In John 14:1-3, Jesus says: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (Cf. Luke 21:27-28; Heb. 9:27-28; 1 Thess. 4:13-18.)

Do you acknowledge your sins and look to Christ and His cross for mercy and forgiveness? If not, the day of His return will be for you a day of sorrow and mourning as you face His eternal judgment and condemnation!

But, if you agree with God about your sins and trust in Christ and the atonement He made for the sins of the world when He died on the cross, that day will be a day of joy and gladness as you receive His mercy, His pardon, and life eternal in His glorious kingdom!

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, as You have ascended up into heaven to the right hand of God the Father, so come again and take us to be with You forever. Graciously keep us in the true faith so that, on that Day, we may greet You with joy and not with sorrow. Grant this to us for the sake of Your holy life and bitter sufferings and death upon the cross in our stead. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

“A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing” (The Lutheran Hymnal, No. 212)

1 A hymn of glory let us sing;
New songs thro’out the world shall ring:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Christ, by a road before untrod.
Ascendeth to the throne of God.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

2 The holy apostolic band
Upon the Mount of Olives stand;
Alleluia! Alleluia!
And with His followers they see
Jesus’ resplendent majesty.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

3 To whom the angels, drawing nigh,
“Why stand and gaze upon the sky?
Alleluia! Alleluia!
This is the Savior,” thus they say;
“This is His noble triumph-day.”
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

4 “Again shall ye behold Him so
As ye today have seen Him go.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
In glorious pomp ascending high
Up to the portals of the sky.”
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

5 Oh, grant us thitherward to tend
And with unwearied hearts ascend,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Unto Thy kingdom’s throne, where Thou,
As is our faith, art seated now.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

6 Be Thou our Joy and strong Defense,
Who art our future Recompense:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
So shall the light that springs from Thee
Be ours through all eternity.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

7 O risen Christ, ascended Lord,
All praise to Thee let earth accord,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Who art, while endless ages run,
With Father and with Spirit One.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Amen.

Text Information
Title: A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing
Latin Title: Hymnum canamus gloriae
Translator: Benjamin Webb (1854, alt.)
Author: The Venerable Bede, d. 735

Tune Information
Name: LASST UNS ERFREUEN
Source: “Geistliche Kirchengesäng,” Cologne, 1623

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