“For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain.” (Isa 66:22 ESV) And our Lord Jesus Christ promised: “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mat 16:18 KJV)
The living God is eternal. He himself describes himself as the God of the living and not the dead, when he reminds the disciples that he as the God of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has not passed away into oblivion of long gone posterity, but rather is alive and well and very much in control. Obviously a living God does not just live for himself and independent of all else. Rather he has created heaven and earth as his own footstool, for his pleasure and delight, the very realm of his activity and sounding board of his eternal word and communication. Yet even more specifically and most endearingly he has created mankind as his own friend and related partner – and not just temporarily, but in eternity. This is truly a long term commitment, covenant and testament put into place by the triune God himself for us and our salvation, yes, to our benefit and enduring best and positive advantage. See, even if heaven and earth pass away and a new heaven and earth are created by God’s omnipotence and wisdom, still he will let the heirs of the patriarchs, his very own people and chosen elect, the true members of the body of Christ and one holy catholic/universal Christian Church persist forever in, with and through him.
The Church is God’s very own and special creation and most beloved bride. He takes best care of her, decorates her with his own righteousness, wisdom and caring goodness, love and mercy. Through and by his doing she is the most glorious and beautiful bride. All other creatures just fade into the shadow when compared with her splendor and magnificence. It’s his own coat of virtue and unblemished grandeur that covers her spots, wrinkles, sores and damages. With his most holy Word he called her into being – out of nothing, created her from dust and nothingness, built her into a truly divine creation of grace, peace and dignity. He the head, we his members, limbs and appendages. He continues to build, expand, grow and multiply her. Making her better still, an even more fitting and appropriate mate and opposite for himself. Beautifying, edifying and embellishing her shining persona and making her truly loveable, attractive, dear, treasured and most cherished in his own sight and divine evaluation and esteem. He strengthens her faithfulness towards himself, lets her love for himself flourish and prosper, making her hope and trust him with all her strength, heart and will – so that he is and remains her all and everything – truly her ultimate fulfilment and absolute destiny – missing nothing, but having in him all and everything.
Of course it has been the deceitful trickery of the evil one from very early days to make believe that this is not so, that God actually is not really all out for our best. It is his devious devilry to put down God’s goodness and enduring love. His conniving has turned our fleeting attention from the author and perfector of faith to gaze stunned and beguiled into the void of his empty promises as if they were something. It’s the poison of sin that has darkened our eyes, calloused our hearts and made us hard of hearing too. Thus he has enticed and captivated us with vacuous assurances of sham and pretense and proven himself as the very father of lies, treachery and perfidy. In the end there is but nothingness, loss and shame of condemnation, hurt and pain of losing out for good, longing forever unfulfilled.
It is the wonder and miracle of Christ’s victorious resurrection from death that he has destroyed the power and stronghold of Satan himself and also of his evil ilk and party. Now the very portals of hell are no longer intimidating, but rather are a monument of Christ’s enduring triumph and divine conquest. There is no turning back. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. He sits enthroned at the right hand of the Father, ruling for us and our salvation. As the Augsburg Confession sums up this true doctrine taught, believed and confessed by the Church: “(He = IX) is sitting at the right hand of God in order to rule and reign forever over all creatures, so that through the Holy Spirit he may make holy, purify, strengthen, and comfort all who believe in him, also distribute to them life and various gifts and benefits, and shield and protect them against the devil and sin. Finally, the same Lord Christ “will come” in full view of all “to judge the living and the dead . . . ,” according to the Apostles’ Creed. Rejected are all heresies that are opposed to this article.” (Kolb & Wengert 38). So the gates of hell shall not prevail, but they have fallen like those of Mordor. Jesus Christ is Lord and therefore “the one holy church will remain forever” (CA VII). Praise, thanks and glory be to God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who lives and reigns now and forever. Amen.
The peace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you always + Amen.
Glorious Things of You Are Spoken
By: John Newton
- Glorious things of you are spoken,
Zion, city of our God;
He whose word cannot be broken
Formed you for his own abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
What can shake your sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded,
You may smile at all your foes.
- See, the streams of living waters,
Springing from eternal love,
Well supply your sons and daughters
And all fear of want remove.
Who can faint while such a river
Ever will their thirst assuage
Grace which, like the Lord, the giver,
Never fails from age to age?
- Round each habitation hovering,
See the cloud and fire appear
For a glory and a covering,
Showing that the Lord is near.
Thus deriving from their banner
Light by night and shade by day,
Safe they feed upon the manna
Which God gives them on their way.
- Savior, since of Zion’s city
I through grace a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in your name.
Fading are the worldlings’ pleasures,
All their boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasures
Non but Zion’s children know.
Hymn # 294 from Lutheran Worship
Author: Franz Joseph Haydn
1st Published in: 1779