Pul­pit Notes

The Covington News - - RELIGION -

A glimpse be­hind the cur­tain

Have you ever wished that there were more to life than the junk of ev­ery­day? Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to deal with guilt and dan­ger and doubt and death? Well, that’s what this Sun­day is for — to re­mind us that we won’t have to deal with any of that one day. This Sun­day is known as Saints Tri­umphant Sun­day in the church year, when we get a glimpse be­hind the cur­tain of ev­ery day. I re­al­ize you’re read­ing this the day af­ter Thanks­giv­ing — and our text makes a great fit there too. We have plenty to be thank­ful for as we see this scene from the Reve­la­tion Je­sus gave to the apos­tle John to give to us. Re­ally, in God’s word here, just for a mo­ment, he is pulling aside the cur­tain be­tween time and eter­nity, push­ing back the bar­rier be­tween earth and heaven, and he is show­ing us our fu­ture and our re­al­ity.

If you read the text, you’ll see an amaz­ing scene go­ing on around the throne of God with the Lamb of God, Je­sus Christ, at the cen­ter of it all. Peo­ple of ev­ery kind and color united by one com­mon trait — those white robes — the pu­rity, per­fec­tion, and glory that is a re­quire­ment for ad­mis­sion to this vic­tory cel­e­bra­tion of the lamb.

So that puts us out, right? I mean — I know I’ve plas­tered plenty of stains on my spir­i­tual robe. Be­fore God, there’s no cov­er­ing up my heart that is so of­ten filled with unlov­ing thoughts and un­thought­ful words — and then you add the mis­takes I’ve acted on — and there’s no way I have a white robe. And the same goes for you. Un­til you take a closer look at our text. Look at how that elder in the vi­sion ex­plained those white- robed wor­ship­pers. “ Th­ese are they who have come out of the great tribu­la­tion; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Their robes hadn’t been white ei­ther, but had been made white ... by the blood of the Lamb, the blood of Christ. Je­sus shed his blood in that aton­ing death on the cross to wash our robes clean in God’s eyes. Then he rose to take his place on that throne we’ll be sur­round­ing some­day soon. That’s why we sing, “ Je­sus, your blood and right­eous­ness, , my beauty are, my glo­ri­ous dress. Mid flam­ing worlds in th­ese ar­rayed, with joy shall I lift up my head.” Al­though the earth is be­ing de­stroyed and so­ci­ety is go­ing to pot, we will be in that scene, with all those saints around the eter­nal throne when our time here is done.

I know, we still have to deal with junk here, all those af­fects of sin on our world, our re­la­tion­ships, our lives. But with th­ese glimpses be­hind the cur­tain, we can make it. You see here, in God’s word, in our fel­low­ship with all th­ese saints- in- wait­ing, we are re­minded what life is re­ally all about. So join us soon for an­other glimpse be­hind the cur­tain that in­spires us all to join the song of the saints. Pas­tor Jonathan E. Scharf Abid­ing Grace Lutheran


The Church of Sardis, then and now

We have been study­ing the seven let­ters to the seven churches of Asia Mi­nor. We move now to the fifth church, the church of Sardis. Christ’s let­ter to the church of Sardis is recorded in Reve­la­tion 3: 1- 6.

Christ in­tro­duces him­self as the one who holds the sev­en­fold spirit and seven stars in his hand. The num­ber seven is a num­ber of com­ple­tion and per­fec­tion in the Bi­ble. Christ was telling this church that he held, not only the church and its mes­sen­ger in his hand, but that He alone is able to send his life- giv­ing spirit to res­ur­rect this dead or dy­ing church.

The church of Sardis looked good and at­trac­tive on the out­side. The church was liv­ing its rep­u­ta­tion of days gone by, but Christ said they were dead. How of­ten does our as­sess­ment and Christ’s dif­fer?

It is in­deed tragic for a church to die, es­pe­cially when they think they are still alive. Christ does not judge by out­ward ap­pear­ances. He is not im­pressed with that with which we are im­pressed. He looks at the heart; the mo­tives; the faith; the love with which we serve him.

Many churches seem to be at­trac­tive and grow­ing, yet it is pos­si­ble that they are dead, much like the church at Sardis.

Christ gave this church five sharp im­per­a­tives: Wake up. Strengthen. Re­mem­ber. Obey. Re­pent.

Many Chris­tians and churches of to­day would be told the same thing.

We need to wake up and be keenly watch­ful. As a city, Sardis had been de­feated twice in their his­tory be­cause of their self- con­fi­dence and lack of watch­ful­ness.

Christ warned this church that if they did not re­pent, he would come like a thief, when they least ex­pected it, sim­i­lar to the way their city had fallen in de­feat.

Even in Sardis there were a few who had held true. For those who over­come, Christ promised that they would walk with him, would be clothed in white, would never have their name blot­ted out of the book of life, and would have their name ac­knowl­edged by him be­fore his fa­ther and the an­gels.

Christ is look­ing for spirit- filled, alive churches to­day. His warn­ings, as well as prom­ises, hold true for us as well. The Rev. Wayne Ruther­ford LifePointe Church of the


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