Sermon 11.4.18 End Time 1

Revelation 14:6-7                                                                                                                                                                              Reformation
Rev. Kenneth Frey                                                                                                                                                                                     11/4/18
 
Revelation 14:6-7  Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
 
The gates of hell will not overcome
1.  The eternal gospel continues to be proclaimed
2.  So that God is glorified
3.  And we are ready for judgment
 
Jesus had taken his disciples far away from the crowds, north of the Sea of Galilee to a rugged, rocky area around Caesarea Philippi.  He wanted a private place where they could talk theology.  He asked them who they believe he is.  Peter, speaking for all of them, said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)  On that truth, Jesus would build his Church.  And then he gave us a promise.  “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18)  The book of Revelation is a prophecy of how Jesus would fulfill that promise.  Revelation has some frightening images and there are some challenging times for the Church.  But the promise wins out in the end:  The gates of hell will not overcome.
Revelation 13 introduces us to two beasts, one from the earth and the other from the sea.  Listen to how the first beast is described:  “And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.”  (Rev. 13:1)  The last sentence gives us a hint about what this beast represents.  The beast wears crowns.  In other words, it represents secular government.  It is telling us that one of the fiercest enemies the Church will face is the rulers of this world.  And history has shown that to be true.  The Roman Empire, especially under Nero, put many Christians to death.  We could also point to Hitler, Stalin, Mao and many other world leaders who have been openly hostile to the Church. 
The second beast is described this way:  “Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon.” (Rev. 13:11)  It’s not hard to figure out what this beast represents.  It looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon.  This is a dramatic representation of the warning Jesus gave:  “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)  This beast represents a more dangerous threat to the Church, false teachers.  Again, history has played out just as Jesus predicted.  Look at all the divisions of the visible church today, all of which are due to false teachings.  We see that beast in the Middle Ages where the truth of the gospel was nearly lost under a blanket of work-righteousness, masses and indulgences. 
In this scene where the Church is under attack from a beast outside and a beast inside, John saw something else.  Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people.   What does an angel look like?  Do you picture a spiritual being with wings, or a young man dressed in white?  Indeed, the Bible often describes angels as having wings, and during Jesus’ day angels often appeared as young men dressed in white. 
Would you picture an angel looking like a 16th Century Doctor of Theology at the University of Wittenberg?  The word angel means messenger.  Dr. Luther was a messenger of the eternal gospel.  The Reformation was a church event that restored the gospel to its rightful place as the foundation of the Church.  The two beasts failed to silence Luther’s teaching and that is what Revelation is telling us.  The angel is flying in midair out of reach of the beast from the earth and the beast from the sea.  Despite opposition, the gospel will continue to be proclaimed as the Lutheran Reformation demonstrated.  Luther and every other gospel preacher is a fulfillment of this prophecy. 
That gospel is proclaimed to every nation, tribe, language and people.  Just looking at our synod, we have missions all over the world, in Africa, Mexico, South America and East Asia.  We are proclaiming the gospel all over our own country.  Wherever this gospel is proclaimed despite opposition this prophecy is being fulfilled.  You, yourself, are that angel with the eternal gospel when you share your faith or invite someone to church.  You are that angel when you teach your children God’s saving message and lead them to know Jesus.  You are that angel when you generously support the mission and ministry of our church.  Through us God’s Word continues to be proclaimed to every nation, tribe, language and people, so that God is glorified. 
He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”  False teaching robs God of glory.  Those who think that they can blend evolution into the Bible are robbing God of his glory as creator.  Those who teach that you can contribute to your salvation by being good or by making a decision for Christ are robbing Jesus of his glory as Savior.  
Lutheran teaching is Christ-centered, putting the emphasis on what Christ has done for us instead of how we respond to that with our works or our decision.  Lutheran teaching is centered on the means of grace, the gospel in word and sacrament.  Lutheran teaching gives all glory to God for our salvation.  You have probably heard the often-told story that when Martin Luther died, he had a note in his pocket.  It read, “We are beggars; this is true.”  That pretty well sums up our standing before God.  We bring nothing to the table and rely on Christ alone. 
A man died and stood before St. Peter at the gates of heaven. Peter said: “Here’s how it works. You tell me all the good things that you’ve done, I’ll tally them up, and when you score a hundred points, you get to come into heaven.” The man hesitated for a moment and then said: “Well, I was married to the same woman for fifty years and never cheated on her, not even in my heart.” “Great,” said Peter. “That’s worth two points.” “Two points?” the man asked. “Well I attended church all my and life and supported its ministry with my offering and talents.” “Terrific,” exclaimed Peter. “That’s certainly worth a point.” “One point?!!” the man retorted. “I started a soup kitchen and worked in a shelter for the homeless. I spent my Thanksgiving and Christmas days serving dinners to the less fortunate.” “Fantastic! That’s good for two more points,” said Peter. Exasperated the man cried: “At this rate the only way I’ll get into heaven is by the grace of God!” “Bingo! One hundred points. Welcome to heaven!” replied Peter (author unknown –found in Christian News September 12th, 2005, p. 21).
As Lutherans we claim to know and believe that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus. Yet how often don’t we think, like the man in the story, that God owes us something for the things we’ve done for him? And how quickly we forget or take lightly our sins whether jealousy or pride. Sure we know that these things are wrong but we often think that God will gloss over them because we’re otherwise decent people. Friends, if we rely on anything or anyone other than Jesus for salvation – we have no salvation. Supposing that our good deeds will get us into heaven is like using duct tape to make repairs when only a nail will do. And that’s exactly what God did; he fixed our problem of sin with a nail (author unknown – found in Christian News September 12th, 2005, p. 21).   Three nails, really, in the hands and feet of Jesus. 
It is that gospel message of Jesus’ death and resurrection which saves us.  Only that gospel prevails against the gates of hell.  Only that gospel prepares us for Judgment. 
He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come.  The hour of judgment has come.  In fact, it’s always here.  Jesus said, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:18)  The Lutheran Reformation was primarily a movement that flowed from a pastoral heart.  Luther’s heart went out to those who were not prepared for judgment because they didn’t really know Jesus.  That’s why he took his stand, risked his life and wrote volumes. 
The Church faces opposition from powerful governments and from false teachers.  Beasts in league with Satan are prowling around looking to devour us.  But the Reformation reminds us that with the eternal gospel, we are ready for judgment.  With the eternal gospel, the gates of hell will not overcome us.  He who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water rules history for the good of the Church. The eternal gospel will continue to be proclaimed and, the gates of hell will not overcome it.