Dear baptized of God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Jesus gets right to the point. “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven”.
Sadly, not everyone is going to heaven. So what was the problem with those in the example Jesus gives? It’s not that they didn’t have a certain type of faith. They were busy doing what they believed was right. It’s not that they were lazy. They had no shortage of good works. So these were hardworking, believing people.
But they were deceived. “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?”
Notice how everything was about what they did? Notice how nothing was about what Jesus did for them? They mention Christ’s name alight, but what about what His name means? What about what He did for them? Their only concern seems to be about what they did for Him. Where’s the mention of God’s grace for them, in sending His only-begotten Son? Where’s the mention of Christ’s death and resurrection? Where’s the mention of the gift of faith, the gift of God’s Spirit, who keeps us in the true saving faith, by His Word and Sacraments, who reminds us of our Baptism, and who keeps nourshing our soul with the true body and blood of the Savior? In fact, not one of the gifts of God’s grace, is mentioned. Not one. It was all, “Look at what I’ve done for you Lord.” Let me get out my list of impressive things I’ve done, Jesus. I’ve prophesied, I’ve cast out devils, and look at all the wonderful things I’ve done. Look at what a wonderful person I am, indeed.”
And Jesus will say, depart from Me. I never knew you.
It’s not that they didn’t have faith, it’s that they had faith in themselves, and in what they could do for Christ. But that’s not a solid foundation. Jesus says they are like the “foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”
Dear Baptized of God, baptized in the name of Christ. You have the solid foundation. By grace, through faith, you have Jesus Christ, His life, death and resurrection in your heart and soul. The very first thing we said and sang, in the Worship Service today: The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord. Even the smallest child can understand and believe in Christ, by the power of God’s Word and Spirit. “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” That’s the foundation that you have, children of God. You have the love of Christ. You have everything Christ did to save you, freely given to you in your Baptism. May we remain in our Baptism by remaining in God’s Word, and by continuing to receive the true body and blood of the Savior, given and shed for the remission of our sins.
That’s the foundation upon which true faith is built: Jesus Christ. Everything else is sinking sand.
In today’s lesson it may sound like Jesus is saying it’s about our doing. “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.”
He does mention doing the will of His Father. But many focus only on the doing, and not on the will of His Father, which is what?
“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.”
And then later Jesus mentions not only doing, but both hearing and doing His sayings. How can we do anything without the power of God’s will?, and withtout the power of God’s Word and Spirit. I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him, but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel.
We hear in the Epitle lesson for today, “If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
So it is possible to mortify, to cut off, to suppress, to kill the sinful desires in our body, yet, not without God’s Spirit. He gives us a brand new heart, and a brand new life in our Baptism. He keeps calling us by the Gospel to live the life we cannot by our own reason or strength. Yet I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Yet, still, as important as good works are, they cannot save us. No matter how faithful I’ve been in attending church, being friendly to others, donating my time, my talent, money - no matter how much more godly I may look than others – it doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to earning salvation. It was earned by Christ, and Christ alone.
Christ came to give us that assurance that we will spend eternity with Him in heaven, not based upon what we have done, but upon what He has done. He directs us to the one true foundation. The foundation that cannot be moved, no matter how much the rain falls, or how hard the wind blows. No matter how great our troubles have been, and no matter how great our sins have been, He made everything right between us and God. He made satisfaction for our sins. He already paid the penalty, He already suffered the punishment that we deserved. We haven’t kept the commandments, but He has, and by His Word and Spirit He enables us to keep them in part.
Counting on our own supposed righteousness for salvation is like relying on a house built upon sand. How foolish. The only person to ever keep God’s commandments perfectly is God’s only-begotten Son.
The good news is that He did it all for you and me. We have a very gracious and loving Father in Heaven who sent His Son to live the life that we could not.
This is the foundation upon which true faith is built. The foundation that cannot be moved no matter what comes our way, Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We stand secure through faith in Him. Salvation does not depend on our works, not even in the least, but rather on the perfect righteousness of Christ alone. “A man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
This also means that when life’s storms come crashing upon us, even when we have some of the most sorrowful days of our lives – then Jesus is especially there for us as our rock and foundation. His Spirit gently assures us that our suffering is only for a little while. Jesus is coming again to receive us into the everlasting joy of heaven. He says,“I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”