St. Matthew 24:15-28 The Third-Last Sunday of the Church Year 2016

November 6, 2016 Speaker:

Passage: Matthew 24:15–28

St. Matthew 24:15-28
The Third-Last Sunday of the Church Year, 2016 A. D.
In the Name of the Father, and of the  Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
In the midst of his great earthly suffering, it must have seemed to Job as if the world was coming to an end. In the depths of his tribulation Job confesses to God “…the number of man’s months is with You; You have appointed his limits…” The life of man is in God’s hands. To life there is a beginning, and an end. And God is in control of both. In tribulation and suffering, there is great comfort in that.

So too this creation. The world we live in is perishable. It is passing. God spoke it into being, and the day comes when it will be destroyed. That day grows ever nearer. The signs are all around us. All of us have seen the rapidly increasing sinfulness and hatred for God and the Christian, and for the One True Church, the Holy catholic and Apostolic Church.

Those who believe in the True God are daily sickened as the perversion and godlessness and corruption of our world, and our country, grows and grows. We have come to expect government corruption, and we nominate candidates that are no less sinful. Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. We don’t put our trust in men.

But that has been true for millennia. In the time of our Lord’s incarnation, Herod was dishonest, Pilate was corrupt and feared public opinion more than God, and Caesar desired to be worshipped as God. In the face of all this, the Lord did not organize a political uprising. He said “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” The Apostles didn’t become politicians or community organizers or run for office. They preached Christ, and when arrested for the Gospel by the government, they confessed “We must obey God rather than men.”

And that is where these last days, the days in which you live, impact you. The empty promises of politicians can do damage to your savings account and your checkbook, your health insurance, your retirement, and the value of your house; but they cannot harm your faith. Corrupt politicians can kill the body, but not the soul. False doctrine, however, and the errant practice that accompanies it, can kill the soul.

So corrupt politicians aren’t a sign of the end. They’re a sign of the fall, and they’ve been with us ever since Cain murdered Abel. But there are signs of the end. And in mercy, the Lord Himself lists several, so that His Church be prepared. There are physical signs in the creation, but more importantly there are signs within the visible church. For there is the antichrist found.
He comes from within, not from without. The antichrist stands in the holy place. He is within the visible church. His “little time” is that of great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world. False christs and false doctrine are the marks of his coming, even great signs and wonders. But they are meant to deceive. They are meant to lead you astray, to cause you to believe wrongly about God, about yourself, and about Christ.

Wrong teachings about Jesus, about salvation, about man’s sinfulness, about the Christian faith and practice, these wrong teachings can harm your faith. And that can bring eternal death. False doctrine is no plaything. And the Antichrist is at work in the visible church.

St. Matthew 24:15-28
The Third-Last Sunday of the Church Year, 2016 A. D.
So it is that the Apostle whom Jesus loved writes “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us…”
So examine yourself. Have you doubted God’s Word? Do you personally hold beliefs that are contrary to the clear Word of God? Have you found yourself thinking “Well, I believe a lot of what is in the Bible, but this or that doesn’t seem right to me…”?

Or worse, have you not been concerned with what the Bible teaches? Have you neglected the study of God’s Word, and so live and think as you deem best? Repent. For the judgment comes. And you will not be judged according to what men think is right, or according to what you think is right. You will be judged according to the Word of God. Believe the Word of God. For as the Apostles confessed, you too must obey God rather than men. To believe God, to obey God, you must know what He says.

So when false teachings and false christs come, do not be deceived. Faith knows Christ. Faith knows His Promises. Faith knows how He comes. You have the Word of God. And that Word informs faith. Faith knows God took on Flesh, and died for you, that your sins be forgiven. Faith knows that death could not hold Him, that the crucified Lord is risen and ascended. And He loves you. He has dealt mercifully with you, that you not be ashamed on the Day of Judgment.
He desires you to be His own, and to live under Him in His Kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. In Him you live out your life in this world confident that He is coming again, and that at His coming you will be numbered among the elect. For these last days will be cut short that you, O Christian, the elect of God, be saved.
All this He did for you, that you be sundered from the kingdom of corruption and unbelief, and made One with His Church, a citizen of His Kingdom, His Kingdom of righteousness and peace and love. For in the true Kingdom, you do not elect a king, rather the King elects you. And that He does in love.

In His Word can you trust. His Promises are never empty. He keeps His Promises. He rose from the dead, just as He promised. He saved you, just as He promised. He saved you by Water and Word, the Washing of Regeneration. He saved you by hearing His Word, for faith comes by hearing.

So as the fallen world scurries about following after fallen men and false prophets and false christs; as the world looks here and there for hope and salvation, faith is not deceived. You are not deceived. For your Lord is the exactly where He has Promised to be. He is here, this day, for you.

He is here that you receive His Holy Absolution. He is here for the forgiveness of all your sins. He is here to forgive even the sin of doubting His Word, here where His Word is read and preached that you know it, and Him, aright. He is here for you, where He has promised to be, in the Holy Eucharist, that you eat and drink Christ, and so be strengthened for the tribulation of these last days.

St. Matthew 24:15-28
The Third-Last Sunday of the Church Year, 2016 A. D.
So you flee neither to the mountain or from the roof into the house, but rather you flee here, to the Lord’s House, where He is, where His Gifts protect and keep you steadfast in faith until that Day when he comes to judge the quick and the dead.

Of that day the Apostle writes “..the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” That promise is for you.

Thanks be to God, for the sake of the elect these days will be shortened. And as lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again. Therefore comfort one another with these Words.
In the Name of the Father, and of the  Son, and of the Holy Ghost.