Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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November 20 – According To What He Has Done

For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay each person according to what he has done.” Matthew 16:27

Devotional Thought For The Day

Our immediate thought when we hear these words of Jesus, if we have even a shred of honesty and integrity, is that this is going to be a very bad day for us. We all have memories – even though it is part of our corrupt sinful nature to “doctor” our memories so that we minimize or even erase the evil we have done. Our efforts are not completely successful; at times memories come drifting back into our minds unfiltered and we are troubled by what we have been involved in. Likewise, we consider the evil of our thoughts and emotions and words even today, and realize that if perfect love is the criteria by which we are to be judged – and God is perfect love, then we have a lot of repayment coming for what we have done and continue to do.

These thoughts then expand to the rest of mankind, all of the other people that we have known, and all of the human behavior we are aware of. We have known no perfect human beings. The world has known only one perfect human being – Who is also the Divine and eternal Son of God. In regard to all mere human beings, the Word of God asserts that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” [Rom. 3:23] The Word of God in judgment of our sin is also quite clear: “the wages of sin is death.” [Rom. 6:23] The inevitable conclusion to this train of thought is that everyone is damned to eternal death. And under God’s Law, this is absolutely true and undeniable fact.

So our thoughts turn to the effort and labor of God in continuing to put up with mankind, and to His promise of forgiveness and salvation in His Word. What is the point of Christ’s incarnation and crucifixion – becoming sin for us and absorbing the unthinkably intense wrath of God over human sin – if the Law of God is the only thing in mind when Jesus “repays each person according to what he has done”? Why are there prophets and apostles, pastors and preachers, who throughout human history call people to repentance and faith, suffering the antagonism, hatred, and persecution of unbelievers?  What is the faith to which they call us – faith that all are doomed to hell because what they have done is contrary to the Law of God and vile in the sight of a holy and righteous Lord God?

If this is the faith to which God’s Word calls us then no person described in Holy Scripture – save the Lord Jesus Christ – has any future but hell. Adam and Eve? They were the original sinners and befoulers of humanity. Noah? A drunkard and curser. Abraham? An idolater and man of weak and anemic faith. Moses? A murderer and coward. Samson? A frequenter of Philistine prostitutes. Samuel? He favored his immoral sons and allowed them to abuse the people. David? An adulterer and murderer. Jeremiah? He accused God of deceiving him. Peter? He swore he never even knew Jesus. Paul? A pharisaic murderer of God’s people. All human beings remain under the description of God’s Word – that “if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” [1 Jn. 1:8]

But there is more to “what he has done,” because of what He has done for us. “If we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1 Jn. 1:9] “He that believes the Son has everlasting life . . . and shall not come into condemnation but has passed from death to life.” [Jn. 3:36; Jn. 5:24] Jesus calls all to repent and to believe the good news of God’s gracious gift of forgiveness and salvation [He is “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” – Jn. 1:29] – and this is the critical “what he has done” that Jesus has in mind, for He Himself asserts that “the Word I have spoken, the same will judge him on the Last Day.” [John 12:48] Only stubborn and rebellious insistence upon impenitence and unbelief yields adverse judgment on the Last Day, for “he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” [Jn. 3:36]

So we do not rely upon what “we have done” but rather upon what He has done for us and for our salvation. This is the faith to which God’s Word calls all people. It is the message of Holy Scripture from cover to cover, and the principle content of the preaching and teaching of God’s prophets and preachers throughout human history – to this very day. It is true that this faith is the gift of God, worked by God Himself – but it is received, and those who receive it become children of God. [Jn. 1:12,13] So what at first strikes us as utterly ominous and disastrous brings us to humble repentance and joyous faith in God’s great love and His wondrous gift of salvation – and provides the only real basis for optimism that is possible for fallen human beings. Thanks and praise be to God, and “Come, Lord Jesus.”

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for Your precious Word which makes clear to us that in spite of the dire damnation that Your Law lays upon us, Your gracious gift of forgiveness and salvation gives us comfort and hope of new life. Preserve us from the grievous and damning evil of impenitence and unbelief – and from all false prophets and preachers who insist that we trust in our own works. We look forward to Your return in glory when we will receive the blessed gifts that You have promised to those who believe You – eternal life in Your heavenly kingdom.  Grant us continued faith and joy, and renewal in love and goodness, until that great day. Amen.