Difference between revisions of "Salvation Is Nearer (Romans 13)"

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St. Paul tells the Christians in Rome, "The hour has come for you to wake from sleep."<ref>Romans 13:11</ref> Were the Roman Christians asleep? Did they need a wake-up call from St. Paul? Does the Church need a wake-up call from him today?
 
St. Paul tells the Christians in Rome, "The hour has come for you to wake from sleep."<ref>Romans 13:11</ref> Were the Roman Christians asleep? Did they need a wake-up call from St. Paul? Does the Church need a wake-up call from him today?
  
===The hour has come for you to wake from sleep===
 
 
The Christians in Rome were in a precarious position. They were practicing an illegal religion in the heart of the imperial capital. On the surface, this seems like an unnecessary exhortation. They shouldn't be asleep. They should be wide awake in their vigilance. They should always be on their toes. Everything St. Paul says to the Romans has a specific purpose. He has a reason for every statement.  
 
The Christians in Rome were in a precarious position. They were practicing an illegal religion in the heart of the imperial capital. On the surface, this seems like an unnecessary exhortation. They shouldn't be asleep. They should be wide awake in their vigilance. They should always be on their toes. Everything St. Paul says to the Romans has a specific purpose. He has a reason for every statement.  
  
====What is sleep?====
 
 
Often in the Bible, sleep is a metaphor for death. But it is just as often used as a symbol of comfort. Especially being comfortable in the sinful works of darkness.
 
Often in the Bible, sleep is a metaphor for death. But it is just as often used as a symbol of comfort. Especially being comfortable in the sinful works of darkness.
  
Line 28: Line 26:
 
As we begin the Church Year this morning, we see throughout the Church Year that Christ is associated with the dawn:
 
As we begin the Church Year this morning, we see throughout the Church Year that Christ is associated with the dawn:
 
* This morning we sang, "From the manger newborn light shines in glory through the night."<ref>LSB #332.7</ref>
 
* This morning we sang, "From the manger newborn light shines in glory through the night."<ref>LSB #332.7</ref>
* In "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," Jesus is called "Thou Dayspring from on high."<ref>[[O_Antiphon:_Dayspring]]</ref>
+
* In "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," Jesus is called "Thou Dayspring from on high."<ref>[[O Antiphon: Dayspring]]</ref>
 
* A Christmas hymn prays, "Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light, and usher in the morning."<ref>LSB #378.1</ref>
 
* A Christmas hymn prays, "Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light, and usher in the morning."<ref>LSB #378.1</ref>
 
* Epiphany hymns are just bursting with this imagery:
 
* Epiphany hymns are just bursting with this imagery:
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Being awakened from sleep, we are able to look toward the Last Day's dawning with joy. We look forward to Him rending the heavens and coming down. But we cannot be joyous if we are asleep. Because we are not conscious of His coming. His Advent. Therefore St. Paul tells us, "The hour has come for you to wake from sleep."<ref>Romans 13:11</ref> To look toward the dawn of Jesus' Advent. His first Advent as the Babe of Bethlehem born to die to bring everlasting life. His last Advent as the Judge of the living and the dead. When all the dead will rise for the everlasting Day of the LORD.
 
Being awakened from sleep, we are able to look toward the Last Day's dawning with joy. We look forward to Him rending the heavens and coming down. But we cannot be joyous if we are asleep. Because we are not conscious of His coming. His Advent. Therefore St. Paul tells us, "The hour has come for you to wake from sleep."<ref>Romans 13:11</ref> To look toward the dawn of Jesus' Advent. His first Advent as the Babe of Bethlehem born to die to bring everlasting life. His last Advent as the Judge of the living and the dead. When all the dead will rise for the everlasting Day of the LORD.
  
===Salvation is nearer to us now===
+
We look toward this Day because we know that "salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed."<ref>Romans 13:11</ref> The further we move along the flow of time, the closer we get to Jesus' last Advent. When salvation will come in its fulness at the dawn of the "great and awesome day of the LORD."<ref>Joel 2:31; Malachi 4:5; cf. Acts 2:20; Jude 6</ref> The prophet Zephaniah said in his day, "The great day of the LORD is near, near and '''hastening fast'''.<ref>Zephaniah 1:14</ref> He spoke almost 2500 years ago, but he speaks the truth for his time and for ours as well.
  
====The day is at hand====
+
"The day is at hand."<ref>Romans 13:12</ref> It's a repetitive theme throughout Scripture. Salvation comes with the dawn. The dawn is the focus of the LORD's house. Wherever the Tabernacle was erected, and when the Temple is built, the opening for the gates and the Holy Place face east.<ref>Ezekiel 8:16</ref> To catch the first rays of the dawn. To show that salvation comes with the dawn.
* Salvation comes with the dawn
+
** "The night is far gone; the day is at hand."<ref>Romans 13:12</ref>
+
** "From the manger newborn light shines in glory through the night."<ref>LSB #332.7</ref>
+
* The dawn is the focus of the LORD's house
+
** The Temple was built with its entrance facing toward the east.<ref>Ezekiel 8:16</ref>
+
** "Let us walk in the light of the LORD."<ref>Isaiah 2:5</ref>
+
  
====Gather at the house of the LORD====
+
While we are awake, we seek to "walk in the light of the LORD."<ref>Isaiah 2:5</ref> Walking in His light, we have a glimpse of His true glory. Glory that we will only know for certain when the Son of Man comes. We receive a glimpse through His Incarnation. Beginning in the manger where His "newborn light shines in glory through the night."<ref>LSB #332.7</ref> Light that shines even in the darkness of His Passion and death. Light that reaches its fulfillment at His resurrection. Salvation secured for all mankind. Therefore we seek to walk in the light He sheds on our way.
* The mountain of the LORD
+
 
** "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the LORD!'"<ref>Psalm 122:1</ref>
+
That light He sheds through His Word.<ref>Psalm 119:105</ref> A Word that brings salvation to those who believe it. A Word that has no boundaries except what Christ imposes on it. And the boundary He imposes is the promise that He speaks this Word in a particular and peculiar place. "The mountain of the house of the LORD."<ref>Isaiah 2:2</ref>
** "In the latter days that the mountain of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills."<ref>Isaiah 2:2</ref>
+
 
* Realization of salvation's promise
+
We'll cover more about the mountain of the LORD in Bible class this morning. I'll just whet your appetite for it right now.
** "All the nations shall flow to it, and many people shall come, and say: 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths.'"<ref>Isaiah 2:2-3</ref>
+
 
** "There shall we all our praises bring and sing to You, our Savior King; there shall we laud You and adore forever and forevermore."<ref>LSB #355.7</ref>
+
The mountain of the LORD is the place where God has placed His Word. This Word causes those who believe to rejoice. Therefore, the Psalmist says, "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the LORD!'"<ref>Psalm 122:1</ref> For Old Testament Israel, before the exile into Babylon, that was the Temple Mount. It is one of the highest mountains in Jerusalem. There, all of God's people would throng for the great feasts of the Church Year.
** "Darkness there no more resides; in this light faith now abides."<ref>LSB #332.7</ref>
+
 
** "A glorious crown You give me, a treasure safe on high that will not fail or leave me as earthly riches fly."<ref>LSB #334.3</ref>
+
Isaiah speaks of the day of salvation where "the mountain of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills."<ref>Isaiah 2:2</ref> This elevation above every other mountain shows that this place is the most sacred place. This elevation is also makes the house of the LORD transcend any single place. Now, "the mountain of the house of the LORD" is anywhere set apart to hear the promise of salvation. Anywhere where God sends down the light from Heaven upon His gathered people.<ref>LSB #355.2</ref> Anywhere where the glimpse of salvation is seen.
 +
 
 +
How else would Isaiah's prophecy come to pass? His prophecy where "all the nations shall flow to it, and many people shall come, and say: 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths.'"<ref>Isaiah 2:2-3</ref> We gather at the house of the LORD to hear His Word and praise His name. We gather to be filled with God's light. The light that comes with the dawn of salvation. The dawn that rises every time His Word is opened to be read and heard. The Word which reminds us that "salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed."<ref>Romans 13:11</ref> Amen.
  
 
==References==
 
==References==
<references />
+
<references responsive />

Latest revision as of 15:20, 29 November 2019


Service Notes

  • Liturgy: Divine Service 1
  • Hymns: LSB #331, 332, 334, 355
  • Location: St. John's Lutheran Church, Rosemount, MN

Theme Verse

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11)

Sermon Text

St. Paul tells the Christians in Rome, "The hour has come for you to wake from sleep."[1] Were the Roman Christians asleep? Did they need a wake-up call from St. Paul? Does the Church need a wake-up call from him today?

The Christians in Rome were in a precarious position. They were practicing an illegal religion in the heart of the imperial capital. On the surface, this seems like an unnecessary exhortation. They shouldn't be asleep. They should be wide awake in their vigilance. They should always be on their toes. Everything St. Paul says to the Romans has a specific purpose. He has a reason for every statement.

Often in the Bible, sleep is a metaphor for death. But it is just as often used as a symbol of comfort. Especially being comfortable in the sinful works of darkness.

The Psalmist speaks of God, saying, "He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep."[2] Another Psalm uses David's words about the house of the LORD. "I will not enter my house or get into my bed, I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob."[3] The LORD is ever vigilant. Ever watchful.

But we are not watchful or vigilant. We become comfortable in sleep. After all, Jesus Himself says, "The gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many."[4] Sleep is the easy way through life. It is comfortable and easy because we keep our heads down, like laying on a pillow, so that we don't find much trouble.

However, Paul also uses sleep as a metaphor for the works of darkness. While you are asleep, you are unconscious to the world around you. St. Paul uses it to show you that those who are engrossed in sin are unconscious to Christ's work of salvation. His work of redemption. His offer of forgiveness.

Therefore, Paul tells us to "wake from sleep."[5] To "cast off the works of darkness."[6] Not to walk "in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy."[7] These things are all part of the world of darkness. The world of sleep. The world without Christ.

As we begin the Church Year this morning, we see throughout the Church Year that Christ is associated with the dawn:

  • This morning we sang, "From the manger newborn light shines in glory through the night."[8]
  • In "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," Jesus is called "Thou Dayspring from on high."[9]
  • A Christmas hymn prays, "Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light, and usher in the morning."[10]
  • Epiphany hymns are just bursting with this imagery:
    • "O Morning Star, how fair and bright! You shine with God's own truth and light, aglow with grace and mercy!"[11]
    • "Brightest and best of the stars of the morning, dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid; Star of the East, the horizon adorning, guide where our infant Redeemer is laid."[12]
    • "O Savior of our fallen race, O Brightness of the Father's face, O Son who shared the Father's might before the world knew day or night."[13]
    • "The people that in darkness sat a glorious light have seen; the light has shined on them who long in shades of death have been."[14]
  • Even in Lent we sing, "In the cross of Christ I glory, towering over the wrecks of time. All the light of sacred story gathers round its head sublime."[15]
  • Of course, there are tons of Easter hymns with the theme of Christ as the Light and the Dawn.
    • "Awake, my heart, with gladness, see what today is done; now, after gloom and sadness, comes forth the glorious sun."[16]
    • "I am content! My Jesus is my light, my radiant sun of grace. His cheering rays beam blessings forth for all, sweet comfort, hope, and peace. This Easter sun has brought salvation and everlasting exultation."[17]
    • "Scatter the darkness, break the gloom; sun, reveal an empty tomb shining with joy for all our sorrows, hope and peace for all tomorrows, life uneclipsed by doubt and dread: Christ has risen from the dead!"[18]
  • At Pentecost, we continue the song: "O day full of grace that now we see appearing on earth's horizon, bring light from our God that we may be replete in His joy this season. God, shine for us now in this dark place; Your name on our hearts emblazon."[19]

We could go on and on with all the various hymns throughout the hymnal where Jesus is the light or the dawn. It is a central thought to our theology.

Why? Sleep is banished with the dawn. Sin is banished with Jesus' revelation. Therefore, we can sing, as we will at the end of the service, "O Savior, rend the heavens wide; come down, come down with mighty stride; unlock the gates, the doors break down; unbar the way to heaven's crown."[20]

Being awakened from sleep, we are able to look toward the Last Day's dawning with joy. We look forward to Him rending the heavens and coming down. But we cannot be joyous if we are asleep. Because we are not conscious of His coming. His Advent. Therefore St. Paul tells us, "The hour has come for you to wake from sleep."[21] To look toward the dawn of Jesus' Advent. His first Advent as the Babe of Bethlehem born to die to bring everlasting life. His last Advent as the Judge of the living and the dead. When all the dead will rise for the everlasting Day of the LORD.

We look toward this Day because we know that "salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed."[22] The further we move along the flow of time, the closer we get to Jesus' last Advent. When salvation will come in its fulness at the dawn of the "great and awesome day of the LORD."[23] The prophet Zephaniah said in his day, "The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast.[24] He spoke almost 2500 years ago, but he speaks the truth for his time and for ours as well.

"The day is at hand."[25] It's a repetitive theme throughout Scripture. Salvation comes with the dawn. The dawn is the focus of the LORD's house. Wherever the Tabernacle was erected, and when the Temple is built, the opening for the gates and the Holy Place face east.[26] To catch the first rays of the dawn. To show that salvation comes with the dawn.

While we are awake, we seek to "walk in the light of the LORD."[27] Walking in His light, we have a glimpse of His true glory. Glory that we will only know for certain when the Son of Man comes. We receive a glimpse through His Incarnation. Beginning in the manger where His "newborn light shines in glory through the night."[28] Light that shines even in the darkness of His Passion and death. Light that reaches its fulfillment at His resurrection. Salvation secured for all mankind. Therefore we seek to walk in the light He sheds on our way.

That light He sheds through His Word.[29] A Word that brings salvation to those who believe it. A Word that has no boundaries except what Christ imposes on it. And the boundary He imposes is the promise that He speaks this Word in a particular and peculiar place. "The mountain of the house of the LORD."[30]

We'll cover more about the mountain of the LORD in Bible class this morning. I'll just whet your appetite for it right now.

The mountain of the LORD is the place where God has placed His Word. This Word causes those who believe to rejoice. Therefore, the Psalmist says, "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the LORD!'"[31] For Old Testament Israel, before the exile into Babylon, that was the Temple Mount. It is one of the highest mountains in Jerusalem. There, all of God's people would throng for the great feasts of the Church Year.

Isaiah speaks of the day of salvation where "the mountain of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills."[32] This elevation above every other mountain shows that this place is the most sacred place. This elevation is also makes the house of the LORD transcend any single place. Now, "the mountain of the house of the LORD" is anywhere set apart to hear the promise of salvation. Anywhere where God sends down the light from Heaven upon His gathered people.[33] Anywhere where the glimpse of salvation is seen.

How else would Isaiah's prophecy come to pass? His prophecy where "all the nations shall flow to it, and many people shall come, and say: 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths.'"[34] We gather at the house of the LORD to hear His Word and praise His name. We gather to be filled with God's light. The light that comes with the dawn of salvation. The dawn that rises every time His Word is opened to be read and heard. The Word which reminds us that "salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed."[35] Amen.

References

  1. Romans 13:11
  2. Psalm 121:3-4
  3. Psalm 132:3-5
  4. Matthew 7:13
  5. Romans 13:11
  6. Romans 13:12
  7. Romans 13:13
  8. LSB #332.7
  9. O Antiphon: Dayspring
  10. LSB #378.1
  11. LSB #395.1
  12. LSB #400.1
  13. LSB #403.1
  14. LSB #412.1
  15. LSB #427.1
  16. LSB #467.1
  17. LSB #468.3
  18. LSB #481.1
  19. LSB #503.1
  20. LSB #355.1
  21. Romans 13:11
  22. Romans 13:11
  23. Joel 2:31; Malachi 4:5; cf. Acts 2:20; Jude 6
  24. Zephaniah 1:14
  25. Romans 13:12
  26. Ezekiel 8:16
  27. Isaiah 2:5
  28. LSB #332.7
  29. Psalm 119:105
  30. Isaiah 2:2
  31. Psalm 122:1
  32. Isaiah 2:2
  33. LSB #355.2
  34. Isaiah 2:2-3
  35. Romans 13:11