Summary: Because Jesus remains faithful to his promises of forgiveness and eternal life, we want to hold on to these promises and boldly confess him in life and in death. (A Confirmation sermon)
St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Revelation 2:10
859 Fifth St., Hancock, MN 56244 Confirmation / Palm Sunday
Pastor Gregg Bitter (320) 392-5313 April 13, 2003
Remain Faithful to Your Savior
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The Word of God through which the Holy Spirit touches our hearts are the words he breathed into the Apostle Paul to write, recorded in Revelation 2:
“Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10 NIV). --This is the the word of our Lord.
Dear friends who follow Jesus and especially you, Justin,
The American military does not want to leave any of their own behind. We were reminded of that once again at the beginning of this month. In a night time rescue from a hospital in Nasiriyah, Iraq, POW Private Jessica Lynch was brought back safely by American forces.
In a way, we could say that this is a promise the military makes to its troops: “We will do all we can to bring you back.” When the military is faithful to that promise, the troops are encouraged to fight all the harder.
God’s Word for today has an even greater promise for you. It’s not a promise of rescue from physical danger, but a promise of rescue for eternal life. And unlike the military which may not always be able to keep their promise, the one who makes this promise does not change and does not fail.
Because of this unfailing promise, we want to remain faithful and loyal to him, just as a solider remains faithful and loyal to his country. Today, Justin, you will be publicly promising to remain faithful to him, who makes and keeps such great promises. You will be promising to be faithful to your Savior. And as people who call themselves Christians that is really the promise of each one of us here.
May the Holy Spirit work through Jesus’ words of promise and strengthen all of us to remain faithful to our Savior. That’s the theme today: Remain Faithful to Your Savior. Remain faithful to him 1) by holding on to his unchanging promise. Remain faithful to him 2) as you boldly confess him in life and in death. Remain faithful to your Savior.
1) By holding on to his unchanging promise
The Bible verse that serves as the text comes from Revelation 2. Chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation are seven short letters that Jesus himself dictated for John to write. Each letter is addressed to a church in the towns that surrounded Ephesus in what would be western Turkey now a days. Jesus addresses the situation in each of the congregations. This verse is part of his words for those in Smyrna. To help us better understand this verse, listen to what else Jesus says to the Christians in Smyrna.
“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty – yet you are rich! . . . Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution . . . Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:8-10 NIV).
Apparently the Christians in Smyrna suffered for their faith. It wasn’t simply that others made of fun of them for believing in Jesus. The suffered economic hardship as well. Maybe their businesses were boycotted or the homes looted. Maybe the government confiscated what they had. But things were going to get worse. Some would be put into prison. Some might even die a martyr’s death.
Had the Savior’s promises failed them? How do we feel when life goes from bad to worse? And Justin, unfortunately you will have times in life when things go from bad to worse. The highs and lows of teenage life can often make us feel that way. And often times we don’t realize, how good life with our parents was until we see how things can go from bad to worse when we’re on are own. It so easy to begin to doubt the Savior’s promises as times like these. Has Jesus changed his promises? Has he failed to keep them?
Listen to what he assures them and you. Jesus says that he is “the First and the Last.” From before the creation of the world to beyond the end of eternity Jesus is the first and last. He is the eternal God, one with the Father and the Spirit. He doesn’t change. His promises remain the same. He is faithful.