Now Here's Something to Shout About!
A sermon based on Revelation 14:6-7
Sunday, October 27, 2013 - Reformation Sunday
Well... the economy is still down and the unemployment rate is still up. Friends are still sick. Marriages are still dangling by a thread. Sin still ruins lives and satan is alive and kicking. So... could you use some good news? The residents of Columbus, Ohio sure could. And boy, did they get it! A while back a woman named Linda Brown stepped out of her Hummer limousine, walked into a store and announced that she had won the lottery and would pay for everyone's purchases, up to $500 each. What good news! People called their friends and family and soon 500 people were standing in line at the register and another 1,000 were waiting to come into the store.
But after an hour or so, the store owner realized that Ms. Brown hadn't paid a single bill yet. When they went looking for her, they found she left to go to the bank to get her cash. But they soon discovered that Linda Brown didn't have the money—to pay for the store purchases or even for the limo she'd rented. It was all a joke. The good news didn't last very long. And the people who'd been lied to went berserk. They still wanted their free stuff. Some fled with stolen merchandise. Others started trashing the store in an outrage. Everyone was disappointed... even Linda Brown, who ended up in jail for her little prank.
The truth is that not all good news lasts. A woman announces she'll pay for your purchase, but turns out to be a liar. The good news was short lived. A certain man won the lottery, but within a few years he filed for bankruptcy because he could no longer afford the nice things he bought. The good news was short lived. A friend of a woman I know heard the good news that her teenage son's terminal cancer had gone into full remission. But a year later he was hit by a car and killed on impact. The good news was short lived.But this morning—this Reformation Sunday—we hear about some good news that lasts... forever! It's eternal good news! And that kind of news... well, it's worth shouting about! The apostle John talked about that good news when he wrote in 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."
On February 22, 1546 thousands of people walked the streets of Wittenberg to the Castle Church—the same church that Martin Luther had nailed his famous 95 Thesis on 28 years earlier. Now, this same Martin Luther was being buried. People packed into the church to listen to the sermon based on these verses—Revelation 14:6-7.
You see, the people of his day, recognized Martin Luther in this prophecy. He was an angel (and remember, the word angel literally means "messenger") who proclaimed the good news of Jesus in an age where that message had almost been lost. The papacy was teaching that sins could be forgiven... for the right price. And there was a dollar sign on that price! "Buy an indulgence and be forgiven! Buy your way into heaven!" was the message that was heard. But Luther would not be quieted. He would shout "in a loud voice, 'Fear God,'" not the pope! "And give him glory." He is the one we must answer to and he has good news! And Luther would shout that message out with total disregard as to how this might put an end to his career, to his reputation, or even to his life. And his message has clearly had an enormous impact on every nation, tribe, language and people.
But, as I consider Luther's bold stance on the Word of God, I've often wondered, would I have that same courage? But I don't really need to ask, "Would I?" I can ask "Do I?" And the answer is a clear and certain, "No." And I'm pretty sure the same could be said of you. You see, all too often we don't shout out the gospel message "in a loud voice." We don't fear God as much as we fear people. What will they think of us? How will they react?
When you have a friend who's living with their boyfriend or girlfriend, or deliberately violating God's will in some other way, have you ever kept quiet, because, well... you don't want to ruin the relationship? When people talk religion, is it ever you who changes the subject? When you know what's right, but fear rejection, do you keep quiet?
Well, for those times that we've clammed up, or nervously whispered the good news that God reveals in his Word, instead of shouting it out with a loud voice, we deserve to have God be ashamed of us. For the times that we've feared what other people would think instead of fearing God, "who can destroy both body and soul in hell" (as Jesus warned in Matthew 10:28), we deserve to that very punishment—to have both body and soul eternally destroyed in hell.
But thank God that we don't get it, because of that very Gospel that Luther preached—that we are saved, not by our works, but by God's grace in Jesus alone, received not by effort on our part, but by faith alone—a faith that God gives! And because Jesus was never ashamed of the gospel but always shouted it in a loud voice, even when it meant his death... and because Jesus gave that perfect courage and his perfect life to us... and because he took our cowardice and fear and timidity on himself on the cross and endured the hell we deserve on the cross, you and I will not die forever in hell, but will live forever in heaven with eternal life!
And that's all in thanks to the eternal gospel! The gospel that God wouldn't let be buried under the papacy's lies. A gospel that God would restore through Martin Luther. A gospel that is for all "who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people," and so, we know is for us.
But the gospel isn't just eternal because it gives eternal life. It's also eternal in that it can never be stopped.
A woman was walking past a pet shop when she was drawn in by the cute puppies in the display window with a sign that boldly claimed, "Love Guaranteed Forever!" But how could they make such a claim? Would the dog never die?
The truth is that outside of the gospel, no place can guarantee love forever. Because of sin, there is death. And because of death, even the most faithful of spouses will eventually have to say a farewell. No good news that originates on earth can ever last forever. Eventually, even the Energizer Bunny will have to quit going. But not the good news of Jesus. His gospel can never be stopped. It's invincible! And that, dear friends, is something worth shouting about!
The gospel couldn't be stopped in Luther's day and it cannot be stopped in ours! By God's grace, he sent some angel—some messenger—to share the eternal gospel with you. And now, he intends to use you to share the eternal gospel with others! You can be that angel that flies in midair proclaiming the eternal gospel in a loud voice.
Don't be ashamed of what God's Word has to say. Because it is, as Paul said in Romans 1:16, "the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." Don't be embarrassed of the teachings God gives us in love! Isn't it awesome that our God created the world in just six days by the power of his Word instead of over millions of years by trial and error? Isn't it awesome that you can receive the Lord's supper with those who believe the exact same thing as you? Isn't it awesome that God works faith in the hearts of adults and infants alike by means as simple as water and the Word?
Then boldly proclaim these truths as Luther did! And shout out, "I cannot and will not take back or hold back anything that is in God's Word! To do so would be neither wise nor right. Here I stand. I can do no other! Do to me what you will! God help me!" Shout out the eternal gospel—the good news of God's love for us in Jesus that is guaranteed forever. Shout it out to all who will listen. For "the hour of his judgment has come." And we have real good news—of Jesus' love and forgiveness given "to every nation, tribe, language and people" of all time—the eternal gospel. And that, dear friends, is something to shout about! In Jesus' name, amen.