2nd To Last Sunday of the Church year  
Saints Triumphant
"A Time Is Coming"
November 19, 2000

John 5:25-29

+++

Introduction: "When are they going to get here?"  Ever heard that before?  When we anticipate a certain event to take place it is easy for us to get excited about it. Whether it’s the anticipation of the first school delay because of snow, or the events of the holidays, or some other long and hoped for event.  We wait in eager anticipation for everything to transpire.  "When is it going to get here?" "When is going to take place?" "How much longer do we have to wait?" we might ask.  And the answer usually comes with the words "it's coming…just be patient…it will all happen in is own sweet time".

 On this, the 2nd to last Sunday of the Church Year, commonly known as "Saints Triumphant" we anticipate the return of Christ on the last Great Day.  Naturally, people will ask similar questions: "When is it going to get here?" "When is going to take place?" "How much longer do we have to wait?"  How do we answer these and other questions? We answer them with the same words that Jesus gives us in our Gospel lesson for today. Jesus simply tells us that "the time is coming" when all these things will be fulfilled.  Let's consider the times in which we live…  "The time is coming," says the Lord:

I.                   Where the dead will hear the voice of the Savior.

A.    There is a problem which is common to every human and that is that we are dead spiritually. This is determined clearly in the pages of the Scriptures over and over again.  The Scriptures tell us again and again that we are by nature, blind, dead, and an enemy of God.  By ourselves we can not respond to God.

1.    Jesus tells us in John 3: "That which is born of flesh is flesh" In other words, we are born physically and we are born spiritually and that which is born physically is born outside of God and His image. Man, once created in the image of God lost that image when Adam and Eve, our first parents, rebelled against God and sinned in the garden. Now man is born in the image of himself and that image of man is hostile to God and does not understand the things of God.

2.     This condition of being outside of God's image our spiritual condition is as good as dead "In sin my mother conceived me…" David tells us in Psalm 51:5. We are hostile and foreign to God. Blind, dead, and an enemy. We are as good as dead…

B.   But those who hear God's voice will live

1.    The Word converts. When the Holy Spirit works in and through His Word faith is produced in us. Faith and confidence in God is born in us as God gives life to us. It is the Holy Spirit, which calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies us. The life that He gives us comes alive every single time we are connected to God's almighty Word. Jesus gives us this faith as He comes to us in His Word.

2.    This Word will convert us every single time we are exposed to the Word. In His Word and Sacraments God is producing real and abundant life in us. We live because that is how the Holy Spirit chooses to work in us. He has bound Himself to His Word.  Therefore, every single time we come into contact with the Word eternal life will always be the result.  This is the Savior's guarantee to us. Whenever we hear the Word, Life will come. The Savior has promised that the days are coming when the dead will live. We live because Jesus lives. We believe and are given life eternal because His Word has worked in us. The days are coming and are already here where God will work a miracle in our lives.

Transition:  The days are coming when the dead hears the voice of the Savior. The days are coming when those who have physically died will hear the voice of their Savior.

II.          Jesus reminds us that a day will come when the dead will live

A.    A time is coming when all will hear His voice

1.    This will happen on the last day. There has been a day set aside by the Father when He will waken us from our sleep.  As He approached the tomb of His dear friend Lazarus Jesus called him by name and said "Lazarus, come forth" On the last great day Jesus will simply say "Arise!" and all will hear His voice.

2.    Upon hearing the voice of the Savior all will come out. How silly the unbelieving world sometimes appears. There has been many an atheist who has given the request that they are to be cremated and their ashes scattered to the wind. They make this request "so that God won't find them" How silly! What a foolish notion!  If the Lord came create the entire Universe in ten short phrases, putting me back together again and calling me out of my tomb will hardly be a problem. This promise Jesus has guaranteed.

Transition:  On the last day all that have died will hear His voice and come out of their graves to be "sentenced". 

B.   There will be a "sentencing". Often the Bible uses the word judgment. I like to used the word "sentenced" When a person is found to be guilty of a crime we say that he has been "judged" and found to be guilty. The judge or a jury will say "we find the defendant guilty of the charges leveled against him.  As for example "the defendant is found to be guilty of grand theft auto".  At this point the trial is not over.  After the judgment is reached, the same person will have to face the judge for a second time.  A few days or weeks following the trial, that same person is brought back into the judge's chamber to be sentenced.  Using the example the judge might say, "you are sentenced to 10 years for the crime that you have committed". This is how justice works in our legal system today. 

So it goes under God's system of justice. We are judged at the moment of death. At the moment of death the soul is separated from the body and we are judged on the basis of whether or not we have faith in Christ.  If we die in faith immediately the soul is ushered into heaven. If we die apart from faith we are judged and our soul sent to hell. But that is only our soul which is sent. The body has not yet joined with the soul.    On the last day we will be "sentenced" with the soul and body reunited.

1.    Those who have done good who have kept the faith; their bodies will rise, become reunited with their soul and then be ushered into heaven to live. And in eternity they will live in bliss with God eternally.

2.    Those who have done evil, who have not believed; their bodies will also rise. They will become reunited with their soul and then will be ushered into hell to be condemned. Throughout all eternity, because of their unbelief they will live their lives separated from God.

Conclusion:  The time is coming when all these things as explained by the Savior will transpire.  The time for action is now! Today Thy mercy calls us, now is the day of salvation. Be ready, be vigilant, and be on your guard, for the Son of Man is coming at a time that you do not know.  Stand ready for the time is coming

+ Soli Deo Gloria+