Dear friend in Christ, May the knowledge that the King of Creation is also our Redeemer lift our hearts, minds and voices today as we greet a new day of His wonderful grace and mercies, mercies that are new every morning, for great is His faithfulness to all generations!!!
Today is All Saints Sunday and it is a day that has roots that go way back and is a day in this age when we remember and think on those saints who have lived before us. We know that all Christians are saints and that only time and physicality separate us from those who have received their crown of life. We have received our sainthood through the merits of our Saviour and our King Jesus Christ by grace through faith. The Psalmist burst through with these wonderful words of encouragement and assurance.
KJV Psalm 24:1 <A Psalm of David.> The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.
It is thought that the inclusion of the word Selah at the end of verse 6 (and verse 10) is a purposeful pause placed in the Psalm which invites the hearer (or reader) to think deeply and meditatively upon what has been written so far, and then to respond with faith and praise. Simply said, the first 6 verses here point to the Holy One who is our righteousness, the only One who is righteous and without sin, as our righteousness which is by faith in Him. Therefore, comprehending, knowing and receiving this by faith, we lift up our heads to our King and Redeemer, rejoicing that in this gift of life from the King of glory!!!!
7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.
John the Apostle of love “saw” the new heaven and earth and the state of those who have already been received up into glory. Let us read and take in these wonderful words of reality that speak to that which has been received by our loved ones and that which awaits us who are eagerly awaiting the appearance of our King, Jesus the Christ. In the second to the last chapter of the sacred Scriptures, he by the Holy Spirit, writes for all…….
Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
These are wonderful words of life, of eternal life, which when by made alive into our hearts by the Holy Spirit lift our hearts and minds beyond this earth to that which is seen by faith and experienced in the Spirit. As is written in the 5th verse these words are true and faithful. In verse 6 the grace of God is seen in that the invitation is given to all those who wish to drink of the foundation of life freely. Just drink…
As remember our loved ones who have gone before, all the way back to the beginning of the Church to our current day, it is good to be reminded that our King has overcome death, sin and the devil. The portion of scripture chosen for this years All Saints Day is from John’s Gospel and centers around the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Jesus uses this tragedy to show His power over death but also gives a foreshadowing of His resurrection from the dead. We will not go into this text very deeply but will point to the most significant parts of it, but we will back up a little to include the statement of Jesus to Martha. Jesus is the resurrection and the life!!!!!
John 11:24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
John 11:32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?
38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
There are many things to consider here in this passage. Jesus demonstrated the power of the Word, as in the beginning He had created the world by speaking and here He demonstrated His power over death by speaking and calling Lazarus to life. He told the people to take the stinking grave clothes off of him as he is not dead, but is alive!! Let us note that it was not the prayers of those around that raised Lazarus and it was not the faith of Lazarus that made him alive, for he was dead dead dead. It was the spoken Word of Christ that made Lazarus come to life, even as it is through the hearing of the Word today that faith is made alive. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. We are awakened to the knowledge of the love and grace of God through the hearing of the Word and as a result we are brought to faith in Christ. Thus we no longer live for ourselves but for God, demonstrating this through our love and care for all his people and for his creation.
Today as we remember those who have attained the victory, may we give thanks for their love and devotion to us in teaching us in the ways of Jesus Christ and His saving grace. And may we by the grace of God continue in the ways of the Lord, teaching those who are influenced by us both by word and example.
A fellow saint,
Pastor Orval Wirkkala