Faith Sees God's Unseen Glory

Pentecost 3 + June 7 & 10, 2018 + Pr. Dale Reckzin                                                   Download PDF

Text: 2 Corinthians 4:13-18

Hymn: Lord, When Your Glory I Shall See (CW 219)

If you look at identical twins, it is easy to see they are related. If you look at regular siblings, it might be easy to tell they are related.  Or you might have to look closely to see the family resemblance. If you look at adopted siblings - especially if they have different ethnicities - then the only way to know if they are siblings is if someone tells you.  You can’t see their family relation just by looking at them.

That’s what Jesus says in our Gospel Lesson.  Jesus uses his genetic family to talk about his spiritual family.  Jesus says, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother." (Mark 3:31-34)

Just like you cannot tell if adopted siblings belong to the same family by outward appearance, so it is with the family of Jesus.  That’s because the thing that makes you a brother or sister of Jesus is not external. It’s inside you. It’s doing God’s will.  It’s faith. You can’t see faith.

Well, just as you can’t see faith, there are some things that only faith can see.  In our epistle lesson Saint Paul tells us some things we can only see by God’s gift of faith.  God’s Word tells us: faith sees God's unseen glory.

The first unseen, glorious, thing that faith sees is the power of God’s Word. This Word of God actually creates faith in the first place. Saint Paul says, "With [a] spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God." (v. 13-15)

God’s Word brings glory to God.  It creates faith by proclaiming the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection from the dead.  When sinners hear that good news, God’s Word creates faith so they believe that Jesus is their Savior. Then believers glorify God by the same faith that saves them. And all this happens by the hidden, unseen, yet glorious power of God’s Word.

The invisible power God’s Word works a bit like a magnet.  I can make a nail rise out of my hand into the air.  Without touching it, I can make that nail defy gravity.  Of course, I do it with a magnet.  Once the nail comes under the pull of the magnet, the nail rises out of my hand and attaches to the magnet.

Well, just as a nail can’t raise itself, we sinners can’t rise out of sin, unbelief and spiritual death.  Spiritually speaking, we are dead as a doornail.  But then God spoke his Word to us.  The power of God’s Word lifted us from the grip of unbelief and the grasp of Satan. God’s Word attached us to Jesus.

Now, why do you need faith in the power of God’s Word? Quite often, you want to bring someone to Jesus.  You say, I want to share my faith with my unchurched friend.  I want my sister to straighten out her life and act like a Christian.  I want our church to grow and get more members.  So, you tell others how great our church is.  You beg and plead for your relatives to change their wicked ways. You offer people your friendship if someone, anyone will just accept the invitation to be a Christian.

But those methods don’t work.

They can’t work because those methods don’t contain God’s Word.  Cajoling, threatening, and buttering people up do not offer God’s love and forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  Only God’s Word does that.  Only God’s Word connects people to Jesus and his holy precious blood. If you want someone to come to faith or grow in faith, use the magnet of God’s Word.  That gospel of Jesus Christ contains the invisible power of grace to create faith, to change lives, and to save souls for eternity. 

Of course, it takes faith to trust the unseen power of God’s Word because God’s Word does not follow logical formulas or mathematical equations.  But make no mistake about it. God’s Word works.  God’s Word brings people to faith.  God’s Word and God’s gift of faith also allow us to see something else that’s invisible.  Faith allows us to see God’s invisible reward of glory. 

Concerning this invisible reward of glory Paul says, "...we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (v. 16-18) 

Paul basically says, Don’t look at the aches and the pains and the disappointments of today.  Instead, look beyond them to heaven’s glory.  That will give you strength.  That will give you hope.  The guarantee of heaven’s glory will give you joy no matter what pain you suffer here on earth.

Paul also gives us a reason for not letting our troubles and pains bother us.  Again, Paul says, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (v. 17)  In other words, once we reach heaven, God will more than make up for all the trouble we experience on this earth.

To illustrate: some companies contribute to their employees’ retirement plans.  But imagine working for a company that threw money into your retirement account every time something bad happened at work.  Every time the photocopier failed, the company paid $5,000 to your retirement account.  Every time a customer was rude to you, the company put $25,000 into your account.  Whenever your boss was too demanding, you got an extra $50,000.  Every time you had to work overtime, they threw another $100,000 into your account.  Now, if a company really did that, everybody would want to work there.  And nobody would complain when bad things happened. That’s because you knew that whenever something bad did happen, you would get even more benefits at retirement.

Well, in a way, that’s what God has promised us. "Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (v.17)  Every time we suffer here on earth, God will more than make up for it when we retire to heaven’s glory.  It’s as if God were saying, “For every time your job makes it difficult to practice your faith, I will give you ten years of stress free living in heaven.  For every time you patiently endure verbal abuse, I will give 100 years of pleasant conversation with your loved ones in heaven.  Every time someone mocks you for your faith, I will give you 1,000,000 years of perfect health.”

Of course, that’s not exactly how it works. 

You can’t do the math that way because heaven is eternal.  Every blessing of heaven lasts forever, not just a few years and even longer than a million years.  We must never get the idea that we earn heaven by suffering here on earth. Jesus already earned heaven for us by his holy precious blood and his innocent suffering and death.  Furthermore, the “rewards” of heavenly glory are not rewards we earn. They are gifts of God’s grace. That means you also cannot think, If I make myself suffer a lot on earth, I’ll be that much better off in heaven.

No, God did not give us promises of glory to indulge the twisted schemes of our sinful nature.  He gave us these promises to comfort us when we suffer.  He comforts us now so that when troubles do come, we won’t complain.  Instead, we will say, My human eyes can’t see heaven’s glory now.  All I can see and feel are the aches and pains of life.  But God has promised me a glorious future of joy.  So, I can’t wait until I get to heaven.  I can’t wait for the glorious joy of eternal life.  Now, may God use his powerful Word to bless you with a faith that sees God’s glory and looks forward to everlasting life in heaven.  God bless you with this faith, for Jesus’ sake.

Amen.

 

The Triune God is the Trifecta of Your Salvation

Festival of the Holy Trinity + May 24 & 27, 2018 + Pr. Dale Reckzin                            Download PDF

Text: John 3:1-17

Hymn: We All Believe in One True God (CW 271)

Justify. I’m not talking religion or theology. I’m talking horse-racing. Justify is the name of the horse that won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. If Justify wins the Belmont Stakes on June 9, he will accomplish something very rare and difficult. He will win the Triple Crown. In the ninety-nine years of the Triple Crown’s history, only twelve horses have won all three races in the same year. Only twelve percent of the time does a horse win the Triple Crown.

Justify.  Now I’m talking religion and theology. The Formula of Concord, defines justify this way:  "[It] means to declare righteous and free from sins and from eternal punishment of these sins on account of the righteousness of Christ which God reckons to faith.” (III.17). 

To put it another way: to justify someone means that God declares a sinner "not guilty" because, by God’s grace alone, the sinner receives Christ’s perfect holiness as his own through the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith.

Or maybe, we can put it in even simpler words: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." (v 16) 

Perhaps you noticed in all three definitions of justification that all three persons of the Triune God were at work. God, the Father, declares the verdict of “not guilty.” God, the Son, Jesus Christ, gives his righteous and holy life as the payment for sin. God, the Holy Spirit, creates faith and by faith the sinner receives the holiness and innocence of Jesus.  

So again, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all do their part to save you and me and any sinner. And that’s better than a horse winning the triple crown. After all, a horse is a horse. And a race is only a race. But eternal salvation means that you escape the torments of hell you deserve because of your sins. Eternal life means that forever and ever you will always be perfect—healthy, holy, and happy without ever being able to lose this perfection. The good news is that our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, have won the Triple Crown of your salvation. So there’s not a twelve percent chance that you might be saved. Your salvation is one hundred percent accomplished by our Triune God. God’s Word tells us:  the Triune God is the trifecta of your salvation.

Now, the mystery of the nature of God is beyond normal definition. The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God. Yet, there are not three Gods but only one God. This one God is three distinct persons yet only one Divine Being. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each fully God but the true God is only one Being. Again, the nature of the Triune God is a logical impossibility. But, because we’re talking about God, it is a certain reality.

But not only is God amazing in who he is, he is also amazing in what he does. To appreciate our Triune God, let’s take a closer look at how Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each does his unique to justify us.

First, God the Father loved us. This is no ordinary love. God’s love surpasses any kind of love humans can ever give to each other.  Saint John tells us in his first letter: "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (I John 4:10)

 Consider God’s love by comparing what God gave to how you give. Sometimes you give gifts to your friends and family because you love them you and they love you. Sometimes you give out of a sense of duty. You give to charity because you feel an obligation to help your fellow human. 

But God loved us for deeper reasons than friendly love or a sense of duty. God loved us even though we humans are by nature enemies of God and rebel against his rules. Saint Paul tells us in Romans, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8)  So God did not wait for us to be so loveable before he loved us. Even when he should have hated you and cursed you, God loved you.

Pure, immense, unchangeable love—that’s why God gave his one and only Son to be your Savior.  And what a price God paid to prove his love to you and to gain your salvation. That price was the life of his pure and holy Son.

Again, compare that to the prices you pay. You pay a high price in terms of money for housing, your car, your education, or your medical needs. You pay a high price in terms of time and energy to succeed at your job or at school or in a relationship. And in some cases, you might even pay the ultimate price of sacrificing your life to save a loved one.

But even if you did surrender your own life, that still does not compare to the price of Christ’s life. That’s because your life is still the life of a sinner. Even if you gave all you had—even if you sacrificed your life, your life is worthless when it comes paying for sin. But Christ’s life is different. Christ’s life is worth everything. That’s because Christ was and is a perfect human being.  He was and is the perfect Son of God, and true God himself. Saint Peter tells us, "it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life…, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." (I Pet. 1:18-19)

So the perfect, holy, sinless Son of God paid the price to save you. Therefore, your salvation is paid in full.  You never have to wonder, Does God really forgive all my sins?  What about those big sins?  What about those sins I keep doing over and over again?  Does God forgive me even though he knows that I don’t really struggle that hard to resist committing my favorite sins?  Will God really save such a hypocritical, habitual sinner like me?

Well, you never have to doubt your forgiveness or worry about your salvation. That’s because God loves you with a limitless love. On top of that, Jesus paid for every one of your sins with his holy, precious life. But there’s also another reason why you don’t have to worry about your forgiveness, life, and salvation. The Holy Spirit has given you faith in Jesus Christ.

Now, faith in Jesus Christ as your only Savior is absolutely necessary to get to heaven. Jesus himself tells us, "whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:15-17)

But how do you get faith? Is it your decision to believe? Do you have to prove to God that you deserve faith? Thankfully, the answer to both those questions is, no. In our Gospel lesson, Jesus tells us how the Holy Spirit gives you faith: "No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." (v 5-6)

In other words, the Holy Spirit gives birth to your faith when you are baptized by water and the Spirit. Or, as Saint Paul says in our epistle lesson, "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." (Rom. 8:16) In other words, the Holy Spirit, who is God and cannot lie, testifies in God the Father’s courtroom that you have faith. By faith you are God’s child. Since you are God’s child, you have a place in God’s house. That means you are part of the Holy Christian Church on earth. It also means you will inherit eternal life in heaven.

So Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all do their work to give us a victory more impressive than any horse winning the Triple Crown. By God’s grace, by the life and death of Jesus Christ, and by the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith you have won the crown of life. You have won the triple victory over sin, death, and the devil. You have God’s blessings on this earth and everlasting paradise in heaven.  And that victory does not depend on you. Your Triune God has already done it all for you.  Therefore, to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be praise and thanks and honor and glory forever and ever.

Amen.

The Spirit's Fire Builds Christ's Church

Pentecost + May 17 & 20, 2018 + Pr. Dale Reckzin                                                       Download PDF

Text: Acts 2:1-21

Hymn: Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord (CW 176)

On Tuesday afternoon it took less than forty-five minutes for flames to destroy Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Milwaukee. That fire did an estimated $17,000,000 in damage. It collapsed two spires, melted stained glass windows, and reduced beautiful wood furniture to ashes. It was a heart-breaking tragedy for the members of Trinity Lutheran Church.

Yet, hope and faith still rose up even as the church roof was falling down. Several members of Trinity Lutheran Church said in interviews, “The church is not a building. It is the people of God.” That is true. For as beautiful and as functional as church buildings are, the building we call “the church,” is not really the churchThe Church is the people who gather in the building to worship God in true faith. 

Of course, church buildings are still important. They are still beautiful. But here’s something strange and it seems like a contradiction. The very thing that destroys church buildings is the same thing that builds the true church. That thing is fire. 

Physical fire destroyed Trinity Lutheran Church on Tuesday afternoon. Physical fire could also destroy our church building in minutes. But spiritual fire is different. It does not destroy buildings.  Spiritual fire builds Christians. We see that on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit appeared in flames of fire. The Holy Spirit used the fire of God’s Word to kindle faith in the hearts of thousands of people. The Holy Spirit still lights the same fire of Christian faith today. So, today, God’s Word tells us, the Spirit's fire builds God's church.

Our text says, "When the day of Pentecost came, [the disciples] were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." (v 1-4)

The Holy Spirit made a grand entrance. There was no doubt that God was at work. Rushing wind, tongues of fire, and the miraculous ability to preach in foreign languages testified to the Holy Spirit’s presence and power. 

Notice something about the first two signs the Holy Spirit uses. They were the blowing of a violent wind and tongues of fire that separated. When a fire separates and spreads it does a lot of damage.  When a violent wind blows through a town, we call it a tornado. Tornadoes do a lot of damage.  So the Holy Spirit came in the form of two very destructive forces.  Before the Holy Spirit’s fire builds Christ’s Church, the Holy Spirit must first destroy.

This image of destruction finds itself in the beginning of Saint Peter’s sermon.  Peter quotes the Old Testament Prophet Joel.  He says, "'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy…   Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.  I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.'" (v 17-20, Joel 2:28-32)

 Before the Lord comes with his creative Spirit, there are terrible signs of destruction--blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood. (v 20) This will happen in the whole universe right before Jesus comes back on Judgment Day. But, on a smaller scale, and on an individual scale, the Holy Spirit also causes destruction before Jesus enters a human heart. This destruction happens when the Holy Spirit does what Jesus says in John 16: "When [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment." (John 16:8)

So, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict you of your sin. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to make you confess, I am a poor, miserable sinner.  My heart is a foul swamp of sinful desires and evil intentions.  My mind is a factory for twisted plots and hateful schemes.  Out of my mouth gushes a river of lies, gossip, profanity, and insults.  My hands take God’s gifts and pervert them for sinful pleasure.  My feet run away from God and carry me to the nearest temple of self-indulgence.  My ears turn deaf to God’s call for justice but detect Satan’s faintest temptation to justify my every evil intention.  My eyes slam shut to every opportunity to help, serve, and honor my neighbor. But those same eyes open wide to stare at improper images, to gawk at ungodly gluttony, and to lust after illicit luxuries.

Now, only the Holy Spirit can lead us to such a confession. By nature, we think we are good people who only need a little encouragement. But the truth is far worse.  So, the Holy Spirit is like a doctor with CAT scans, MRIs, X-Rays, and blood tests. And after a thorough examination the doctor tells you, “No, you aren’t suffering from appendicitis. You don’t have a pulled muscle.  You have cancer—non-curable, terminal cancer. You are going to die.”

That’s not good news. And the Holy Spirit does not pull punches.  His job is to convict you of your sin. His job is to bring you the anguishing realization that you, yes you, truly deserve to burn in hell for every single one of your sins. But the Holy Spirit tears you down so he can build you up.  The Holy Spirit burns down your temple of smug, self-importance so that he can rebuild your life into a Holy Christian church; a church where he dwells with his presence; a church where Jesus Christ is welcomed guest, honored friend, and treasured Savior.

The Holy Spirit does all this building with the good news of Jesus Christ. That’s what happened on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to preach in foreign languages so that as many people as possible could hear about Jesus Christ, their Savior.  So, our text says, "Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. A crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language." (v 5-6)   

On that day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit made sure that everyone had the opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ in their own language. The Holy Spirit creates the fire of faith using the good news of Jesus as his fuel.

That’s what the Holy Spirit still does today. Through the preaching of the Word and through Baptism and Holy Communion, the Holy Spirit builds you into the Christian Church. The fire of the gospel drives out cold, lifeless unbelief. The warmth of God’s love comforts your spirit that shivers with doubt and fear. The fire of God’s Word sets your heart aglow with faith. The promises of God’s love and salvation ignite you so that you are “on fire for the Lord,” producing abundant good works to the glory of God.

That’s how the Holy Spirit builds Christ’s Church – with the fire of God’s Word.  Now, certainly, humans build church buildings.  We pray that, hopefully, the Lord will allow the members of Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Milwaukee to rebuild their church.  We also pray that the Lord spares our building from such a tragedy. We pray that we can modify our building in the near future. We want our church to be a beautiful building.

But the real Church is more beautiful than any man-made structure. That’s because the Holy Spirit has made Christ’s Church pure and holy with the blood of Christ. The Holy Spirit has made Christ’s Holy Church—you, me, and every believer—he has made us burn brightly with faith in Christ, with love for God, and with the hope of everlasting life in heaven.  So, we pray:  Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful people, and kindle in us the fire of your love.  Alleluia!

Amen.

The Real Savior Ascends to the Real Heaven

Ascension + May 10 & 13 + Pr. Dale Reckzin                                                                 Download PDF

Text: Luke 24: 44-53

Hymn: On Christ's Ascension I Now Build (CW 173)

In 1516, English scholar, Thomas More, wrote a book about a perfect society of equality and justice. Of course, this place really did not exist. Thomas More was describing the desire to have heaven on earth.  But whenever humans try to make heaven on earth, it turns out bad. In a desire to build a perfect society people follow charismatic, but dangerous, leaders.  Then they try to build a society out in the desert or jungle, far away from the “real world.” 

History teaches us what happens with these people. They don’t create heaven on earth. They bring pain and suffering. For example, in 1978 nine hundred followers of Jim Jones committed mass suicide in Guyana. In 1993 the followers of David Koresh perished in flames in Waco, Texas. 

No, humans cannot create heaven on earth.  Thomas More understood this.  That’s why invented the name Utopia for his book. That word is based on the two Greek words, ou and topos.   It literally means, “not a place.”  In other words, there is no such place as heaven on earth.

But it’s okay that we can’t make heaven on earth. It’s okay because there is such a place as heaven.  And heaven is ….well, heaven is in heaven. That’s what Christ’s ascension proclaims to us. Forty days after Jesus rose from the dead, he went up to heaven. So, as we celebrate Christ’s ascension we listen to the comforting message of God’s Word.  The real Savior ascends to the real heaven.

This is, indeed, comforting news. That’s because where Christ goes, you have to follow. You have to follow where Christ leads because your life is connected to Christ.  At your baptism God tied your life together with Christ. Saint Paul says in Romans, "all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death...If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection." (Rom. 6:3, 5)

Paul says that baptism so strongly connects to Christ that we must experience everything Christ went through.  This is the pattern for every Christian.  We are born again with Christ in baptism.  We live under the cross of Christ here on earth.  We die like Christ died—crying out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)  Then, after a short time in the grave, we will rise from the dead just like Christ rose from the grave.  Then, just like Christ ascended into heaven, so too, we will ascend into heaven.

Heaven is the destination for every believer in Christ.  And heaven is a real place of real joy and true happiness.  But heaven is this way because that’s where Jesus is.  So not only does the real Savior ascend to the real place called heaven.  Our real Savior also makes heaven real—a real place far better than any human-manufactured society here on earth. 

So, heaven will indeed be heavenly because there, in heaven, we will have a perfect relationship with Christ.  In heaven our relationship with Christ will not be hindered by annoying sins, by a stumbling faith, or by any worldly distractions.  Instead, heaven will be perfect because in heaven we will have perfect union with Christ.  That’s why the Psalmist says, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you." (Ps. 73:25) That’s a beautiful confession of how we want to be in heaven so we can be with Jesus forever. 

But you don’t always feel that way, do you?  Yes, I know you want to go to heaven.  But far too often the cares and concerns of this world distract you from heaven. Far too often worldly matters interfere with your desire to be in heaven. 

The sinful nature says, Sure, heaven sounds great, but earth is pretty nice, too. You know the old song, “In Heaven There Is No Beer?" Well, there are other things that heaven doesn’t have.  Heaven doesn’t have Powerball, Mega-Millions, casinos, or Vegas, baby!  Heaven doesn’t have TV, video games, or the Internet.  Heaven doesn’t have ESPN, the Brewers or Packers. Heaven doesn’t have fast cars, amusement parks, and shopping malls.

Those worldly distractions make you struggle.  They make you say, Well, I guess I want to go to heaven…. but, I can wait.  First, I want to do all the things that earth has to offer.  I want to have a full life.   Then, when I’m done here on earth, then I’ll give up all that fun stuff and go to heaven.

Our sinful nature thinks heaven is a no-fun zone. In the weakness of our faith, we picture heaven like a pleasant but boring afternoon visiting your great-aunt. But heaven is far from being a celestial nursing home. Heaven is not a place to go once you have used up all your energy indulging in all the fun earth has to offer. 

Heaven is a real place of real joy - the highest and greatest joy.  Heaven has greater joy than any experience we could ever possibly have on earth.  Let’s say it was possible to have a bad day in heaven.  It’s impossible, but for the sake of argument, let’s say you could have a bad day in heaven.  Well, that bad day in heaven would be a million times better than your best day on earth. 

And why can I make such spectacular claims about heaven?  Here’s why: "When [Jesus] had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven." (v. 50-51)

Heaven is better than anything on earth because Jesus went to heaven. Jesus is the reason why heaven is better than anything on earth.  Jesus is the perfect Son of God.  Jesus is the Lamb of God who sacrificed his life to forgive your sins.  Jesus is your mighty hero who defeated death and Satan. 

The Bible also says that Jesus is your heavenly husband.  You and I, we are his bride.  By faith we long for our permanent marriage in heaven with Christ.  We long for this more than an earthly bride longs for her wedding day.  So, our faith aches to be with Christ. When we are with Christ in heaven, our joy will be complete, our hopes will be complete, our whole existence will be complete.

That’s why Saint John describes heaven this way in the book of Revelation: "I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Rev. 21:1-4)

This is not utopia. This isn't “not a place.”  This is the place. This is the real place. This is the real heaven. This is our real home. And heaven is our real home because heaven is where we will be with our real Savior forever and ever.

Amen.