Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Thine Is the Kingdom

Thine Is the Kingdom

Isaiah 61

I. Introduction—Citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven

Good evening.

This evening, our text is Isaiah 61, and I will get to the text in a few moments. If you already have your Bibles open to the passage, that’s fine, keep them open. However, if you’ll turn to Lord’s Day 52 on page 924 in the back of the hymnal, I’d like to first read the three questions and answers there. You may notice that we are a bit out of order—several weeks ago Pastor Rob asked that I preach on this Lord’s Day, since it would have been the one we would be up to this evening. Unfortunately, after I had already spent time working on the sermon, the snows came and cancelled the services two weeks ago. Pastor Rob gave me the option of either starting over on Lord’s Day 51 or just going out of order. I chose going out of order—I really don’t know how pastors prepare two sermons each week—I didn’t have time to change in midstream, so we are doing Lord’s Day 52 this week. I hope you don’t mind—the words of the catechism are certainly powerful and beautiful, dealing with the last portion of the Lord’s Prayer. Listen to these words:

127 Q. What does the sixth request mean?

A. “And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one” means,
By ourselves we are too weak
to hold our own even for a moment.
And our sworn enemies--
the devil, the world, and our own flesh--
never stop attacking us.
And so, Lord,
uphold us and make us strong
with the strength of your Holy Spirit,
so that we may not go down to defeat
in this spiritual struggle,
but may firmly resist our enemies
until we finally win the complete victory.

128 Q. What does your conclusion to this prayer mean?

A. “For yours is the kingdom
and the power
and the glory forever” means,
We have made all these requests of you
because, as our all-powerful king,
you not only want to,
but are able to give us all that is good;
and because your holy name,
and not we ourselves,
should receive all the praise, forever.

129 Q. What does that little word "Amen" express?

A. “Amen” means,
This is sure to be!
It is even more sure
that God listens to my prayer,
than that I really desire
what I pray for.

Last week, I read in the Sheboygan Press about a middle school writing contest on citizenship. The local Veterans of Foreign Wars sponsors this contest, and this year, the topic was “Citizenship in America.” The article caught my eye because the son of a friend won the third-place award. My friend, Pete, grew up under Communism in Poland, but immigrated to the U.S. with his parents in the late ‘70s. His son’s prize-winning essay described how proud Pete is of his American citizenship, and characterized Pete’s work as a police officer as a way of serving the country of which he is proud to be a citizen.

I have to admit that I don’t think a lot about my citizenship, and what it means. But citizenship is important. I knew a missionary who was on furlough in the U.S., but flew back to the Dominican Republic so his wife could have their baby there, thus giving her dual citizenship. He wanted to make sure that his daughter, who would grow up in the D.R., had the choice to remain there as an adult citizen if she chose. When I was a kid, my parents were friends with a family whose three children were citizens of both the U.S. and Canada. Each child eventually had to choose their citizenship—one chose Canada and two chose the U.S.

This evening, though, I’m not going to talk about citizenship in the United States or any other nation or dominion you can find on a globe. Instead, I’m going to talk about another dominion, one in which I hope all of you hold citizenship—the Kingdom of God.

What do you think of when you hear someone talk about the Kingdom of God?

Some of you might think of heaven—that place with the streets paved with gold and with no need for a sun because God casts enough light for the whole Kingdom. You look forward longingly to this Kingdom. When you pray the Lord’s Prayer, saying “Thy Kingdom Come,” you are expressing a desire for an end to this world of sin and suffering and looking forward to an eternal Kingdom of bliss. And maybe you think of that Kingdom of God as being at war with this world, a war that isn’t over yet, but whose outcome is not in doubt.

Others of you see the Kingdom of God in the here and now. You see the Kingdom of God at work when you hear about missionaries in Nigeria and Russia, or when you hear about evangelism and church planting in Fond du Lac and Horicon. You see the Kingdom of God in the work of volunteers spending a week of their own time helping repair homes in Mississippi and Louisiana, or in the work of the Salvation Army, providing food, shelter, and employment assistance right here in Sheboygan. To you, the Kingdom of God isn’t some far off, hoped for future. It is a present reality.

If I were to ask you which vision of the Kingdom is closest to yours, I’m sure some of you would fall on one side and others on the other. And you know what? You’d all be right! Kids, wouldn’t it be great if your tests in school were like that? But the truth is that both answers get at part of the truth. The Kingdom of God is certainly involved in a mammoth struggle with the forces of evil, with the devil, that will end in a final victory. But the Kingdom of God is also present today, preaching good news to the poor, binding up the brokenhearted, and proclaiming freedom for the captive. The Kingdom of God is about both the now and the not yet.

This evening, I want to talk about both sides of the Kingdom—first the Kingdom of God as a struggle against the world, and then as a ministry of restoration to the world.

Before we read Isaiah 61, just a few words about the entire book:

Isaiah is really made up of two intertwining parts—judgment and restoration. On the one hand, Isaiah’s ministry was primarily one of judgment—telling Judah about how evil they were, how they had become no different than the pagan peoples around them, and warning them of the sure judgment they would receive at the hands of their neighbors. Isaiah doesn’t pull any punches—the first chapter of Isaiah is written in the form of a lawsuit brought by God against His people.

But Isaiah balances his message of judgment with a promise of restoration—restoration of the relationship between God and His people Israel. Isaiah 61 is all about that hope for restoration. In fact, when Jesus gives his first sermon, in his hometown temple, Jesus reads Isaiah 61 and tells those listening that the promise of restoration had been fulfilled in their hearing.

The word of the Lord from Isaiah 61:

1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
   because the LORD has anointed me
   to bring good news to the poor;
   he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
   to proclaim liberty to the captives,
   and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
   and the day of vengeance of our God;
   to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
   to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
   the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
   the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
   that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
   the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins;
   they shall raise up the former devastations;
   they shall repair the ruined cities,
   the devastations of many generations.
5 Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks;
   foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;
6 but you shall be called the priests of the LORD;
   they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God;
   you shall eat the wealth of the nations,
   and in their glory you shall boast.
7 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion;
   instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot;
   therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion;
   they shall have everlasting joy.
8 For I the LORD love justice;
   I hate robbery and wrong;
   I will faithfully give them their recompense,
   and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their offspring shall be known among the nations,
   and their descendants in the midst of the peoples;
   all who see them shall acknowledge them,
   that they are an offspring the LORD has blessed.
10I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
   my soul shall exult in my God,
   for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
   he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
   as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
   and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
   and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
   so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise
   to sprout up before all the nations.

II. The Kingdom of God as a Struggle Against the World

Some of you know the old folk song that goes “This world is not my home, I’m just a’ passing through. My pleasure and my hopes are placed beyond the blue.” 

Like a lot of old folk songs this song was written in the context of a world of struggle and loss. The people who sang it were looking forward to the “not yet” part of the Kingdom of God, a time when there is no more death, no more weeping. The people who first sang the song are no different than the rest of us—we all experience daily the struggle of daily life. It might be the struggle of recent loss, like the little boy I saw on television last week crying because his grandmother had been killed in Iraq. Maybe it is the struggle of pain, like the defendant I talked to recently whose wife told me he hadn’t been the same person since being injured at work and having to undergo painful surgery. Maybe it is the struggle of increased stress at work, worry about children, or trying to deal with a classmate who has decided he just doesn’t like you and wants to make your life miserable.

When the struggle of life in the world gets difficult to bear, we tend to focus primarily on the hope of a future kingdom of God. We feel alienated from the people around us and separated from God, so we look forward to a better time we know is coming.

Of course, we must recognize that the reason for this misery we feel—the reason for the gap between the way things are and the way things ought to be—is our own sin. Genesis 6 says that “From the very beginning, every inclination of the thoughts of our hearts is only evil all the time.” That evil in our heart, that natural tendency to hate God and the people around us, has opened a gap between us and God, and is the direct cause of the pain in the world and the struggle that we undertake each day.

Fortunately, we have a Savior who understands fully our struggle. Jesus Christ came to earth to live as a human for a while, suffering the same struggle, the same separation from God. The gospel of Mark, telling the story of Christ’s last moments before his death on the cross, describes Him crying out to His father, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Even though He did nothing to deserve it, He felt the complete separation from God that comes as a consequence of our sin. Even more, he completely conquered sin so we are no longer separated from God, and we can look forward to eternity with God in the new heavens and the new earth. As a result, we naturally want to separate ourselves from the world of sin and death, because it was out of that world that Christ called us to become “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” as Paul says in Romans 8. We live in hope for the day of Christ’s final victory, even as we remain in the sinful world.

That tension of remaining in the world even as we hope for the final consummation of the Kingdom of God is behind Christ’s teaching us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” We are weak people—apart from God we can do nothing. No matter how much we desire to live lives of perfect gratitude, no matter that we are now citizens of the Kingdom of God; we still easily fall back into the patterns of the Kingdom of this World. As the Catechism says, “By ourselves we are too weak to hold our own even for a moment.”

We are too weak to hold our own even for a moment. When I hear that phrase, I think of a woman I’ll call Jane. I learned of Jane through my work with Neighbors Against Drugs. Jane lived in a neighborhood in which a friend of mine was working. Jane was a cocaine addict, but had gone through intensive rehab to try to kick her habit. But once the in-patient treatment was finished, Jane was sent back to her old house in her old neighborhood, right across the street from a drug house.

She told my friend that when she went back, every moment was a struggle—she could see the people going in and out of the drug house, and her own addiction was calling her to go over there and get the drugs she still desired. One day, someone at the house recognized her, and told the people there that she had been involved in drugs. After that, people kept coming over to invite Jane to the house, even offering her a discount just to get her back. Several times Jane gave in. Eventually, with help from my friend, she simply quit her job and moved to another city where she hoped she could make a clean break.

Unfortunately, we citizens of the Kingdom of God don’t have the option of simply moving on to another location to avoid our temptations. We’re here until we die or until Christ returns. And just as the people around Jane and her own desires conspired against her to drag her back into the depths of drug use, our enemies—the devil, the world, and our own flesh—never stop attacking us. That is why when we pray “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” we are praying that “God will uphold us and make us strong with the strength of the Holy Spirit, so that we may not go down to defeat in the spiritual struggle, but may firmly resist our enemies until we finally win the complete victory.” 

Peter gives sound advice to Kingdom citizens trying to resist the devil and our own flesh when he urges us in I Peter 2: 11-12 to live “as aliens and strangers in the world.” It is this verse, I think, that inspired the Christian band Petra to sing “We are strangers, we are aliens, we are not of this world.” The first verse of the song captures the tension we feel living in this world: “We are pilgrims in a strange land; We are so far from our homeland; With each passing day it seems so clear; This world will never want us here; We're not welcome in this world of wrong; We are foreigners who don't belong.” As citizens of the Kingdom of God we are aliens, we are foreigners. We don’t fit in; our ways of doing things are strange to the people around us; we don’t even really speak the same language. The world around us questions our loyalties. At best, they merely tolerate us; at worst, if we refuse to join in their practices, they persecute us. Being citizens of the Kingdom of God while living in the world, means that we are involved every day in a struggle against the world, and every day we need to be pray that God will give us the strength to maintain our alien-ness, to “live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse [us] of doing wrong, they may see [our] good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

III. The Kingdom of God as a Ministry of Restoration to the World

But there is more to the Kingdom of God than just a future hope. Unfortunately, Christians too often focus only on that future aspect of the Kingdom, but the Kingdom of God is present in the here and now. As I mentioned, Jesus’ very first sermon was based on our text this evening. That text is the culmination of the theme of restoration found throughout Isaiah. Jesus Christ, by reading from Isaiah 61, is announcing that God has acted on His promise of restoration of the broken relationship between Him and His people. Christ has come “to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” 

If you still have your Bibles open, look especially at verse 4 and see the three words Isaiah uses that show us that God’s work here is a work of restoration. “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”

Rev. RochĂ© Vermaak, a Presbyterian pastor from South Africa, describes this theme of restoration in Isaiah and in Jesus’ reading of that passage in his first sermon this way: “Jesus announced that in his ministry, God would put right again everything that has gone wrong since the fall with creation. The peace with God was broken through sin and the broken relationship with God led to a broken creation. Jesus would offer himself as a sacrifice on the cross to reconcile humanity with God, and to restore creation and establish God’s kingdom on earth.”

The story of Jesus reading Isaiah 61 in the synagogue is the very first act of Jesus’ earthly ministry that Luke describes, coming before he chooses disciples or healing the sick.

If you read that section sometime, pay close attention to what Jesus says after he reads the section of the scroll. He says “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” He doesn’t say “I am the person who will fulfill this,” or “This scripture will be fulfilled at the final consummation of the Kingdom.” Jesus proclaims that the Kingdom is here, right now. While he will make clear that the full expression of the Kingdom is yet to come, Jesus is telling us that the Kingdom of God is here and now, and as citizens of that Kingdom, we have a job in the ministry of reconciliation.

While Jesus’ words certainly came as a surprise to his listeners in Nazareth, we can see already in the Old Testament signs that the Kingdom of God is not simply about a future in the new heavens and new earth, but also about our life here on earth. When Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:3 by saying he has come “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,” he is making reference to the Year of Jubilee.

Over a thousand years before Christ came to earth, God had already commanded the Jews to celebrate a year of Jubilee every 50 years. Every seventh year was to be a Sabbath year, in which the land was not to be sowed with seed, and the plants were not to be pruned, a cycle that not only had the practical effect of ensuring the Israelites’ fields would remain productive, but also reminded the Israelites that God had created the earth and continued to rule over it as a King.

After a cycle of seven Sabbath years, 49 years in all, came, the fiftieth year, the year of Jubilee. During that year, everyone was to return to their family property, thereby restoring family relationships that may have become strained or weakened by distance. Any land sold by a family because of their need was to be restored to them, and any people who sold themselves into servanthood because of their need for money would be released and their status as free people restored. Even non-Israelites were to be set free during the year of Jubilee, a sign that God’s blessings, and the Kingdom of God itself, would come to encompass more than just the Jews, but all who bow their knees to God as King.

While the people of Israel did not faithfully adhere to the Year of Jubilee—apparently they never celebrated it after the reign of King Solomon—the Year of Jubilee was clearly a command meant for the here and now, an opportunity for all of Israel to be reminded that God is sovereign over the entire earth and that he desires to remain in relationship with His people.

So while it is true that the Kingdom may not yet be consummated, that we still wait in hope for the final appearance of the Kingdom of God in its fullest form, it would be a mistake to think that that final appearance of the Kingdom of God ought to be the be-all and end-all of our lives as Christians. Nicholas Wolterstorff, a former professor at Calvin College says that it is a “theological mistake” to “see hope for consummation [of the Kingdom] as the only legitimate form of Christian hope.” We are citizens of the Kingdom of God here and now, and we have a job, a calling, as Kingdom citizens.

Look at the last verse of our passage: “For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.” This world isn’t just a temporary stopping place on our journey to a celestial home. No, we are to be God’s tools for righteousness and justice to take hold among all the nations of this present world. We are to be a part of restoring the Creation so that every part of that Creation, even those most affected by sin, sings out in praise to our Sovereign Lord.

Rev. Vermaak, the South African pastor I quoted earlier, tells a story that shows the difference between someone whose hope is solely in the future coming of the Kingdom and someone who understands the hope that comes from being a citizen of the Kingdom of God today. One day just before Easter, the pastor was in a grocery check-out line and met a Christian woman he knew from the town in which he lived. The woman’s out-of-town sister was with her, and after being introduced to the pastor, the sister commented that the pastor must be very busy, it being Easter time and all, and asked “Are you saving a lot of souls?" To her utter shock and dismay, the pastor said “I am Presbyterian. We don’t save souls. We don’t just save souls so that they can go to heaven.”

Of course, such a response was designed to shock a little, and he had to explain what he meant—that there is more to the Kingdom of God than the future hope of heaven. Of course we hope that God will save people through the work of our churches and organizations. But we invite people into the church not just so they can be saved and be assured of going to heaven. We invite people into the church so we can disciple them and equip them as Kingdom citizens and then send them back into the world to live out their faith. To quote Vermaak, “For [the woman in the store] the call of the church is to proclaim the gospel in order to save souls. But I believe simply saving souls is having a tunnel vision of what Jesus came to accomplish. The salvation work of Christ includes much more than the promise of a future eternal life in heaven. The salvation work of Christ is very much about the present.”

The well-known preacher and social activist, Tom Skinner, preaching on the Kingdom of God, said that when we pray for the coming of the Kingdom, we are praying “that whatever is going on in heaven might become reality here on earth. So what's going on in heaven? There is joy and celebration; there is peace and reconciliation; there is righteousness and justice; there is love and faith abounding; there is redemption and salvation; and there is God in the middle of it all. That's what we're praying for when we pray for God's kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. We're praying that all of that will happen right here."

So if the work of Christ is about what is happening right here, what does that mean for us as citizens? If we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, we have a responsibility to promote that Kingdom and bring about its eventual fruition. That may seem like a strange, even presumptuous statement to make—to suggest that we could have any power to bring about the final fruition of the Kingdom of God. And of course if we’re saying that humans can bring about the fullness of the Kingdom on our own, we deceive ourselves, since we can do nothing on our own.

But think of this in the same way we think of evangelism. We recognize that there is nothing we can do as individuals to bring about the conversion of an unbeliever. Only the Holy Spirit, working in the heart of the unbeliever, can turn a heart cold as stone into a living organ pumping in worship of our sovereign God. But we also realize that the Holy Spirit can and does use each of us as His tools. That is why we support missionaries and church plants and practice lifestyle evangelism—we live in the hope and assurance that God will use us, frail jars of clay that we are, to convert the lost.

It is no less true, then, that God will use us, weak as we are, to bring about the final consummation of the Kingdom. And we do that by preaching good news to the poor, by binding up the brokenhearted, by proclaiming freedom for the captives, and comforting those who mourn. In doing those things, we are serving God in his ultimate task of making righteousness spring up before all nations, doing justice for every part of creation, and restoring right relationships among all humans, between humans and the rest of Creation, and between humans and their Creator God. The Kingdom of God is about a ministry of reconciliation to the world.

Remember that song I mentioned with the chorus saying “We are strangers, we are aliens, we are not of this world”? Listen to the second verse of the song: “We are envoys, we must tarry; With this message we must carry; There's so much to do before we leave; With so many more who may believe; Our mission here can never fail; And the gates of hell will not prevail.” As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we have become God’s envoys to this world, ambassadors with a mission to bring restoration to a world that is enslaved by sin. During World War I, the American government worried that the large German population in America, especially in places like Wisconsin, was a fifth column of German sympathizers who had wormed their way into every aspect of society in order to do the will of the Kaiser. In a way, we Christians are a fifth column, a group of insurgents who embed ourselves in the world, doing everything we can with the talents and gifts we have been given by God to do the will of our Father, to bring about a revolution of justice, bringing about the restoration of God’s full and complete rule over all.

IV. Amen—What Comes Next?

So the Kingdom of God is both a struggle against this world as well as a ministry of reconciliation to that world. When we pray to God saying “Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever,” we are confessing that God is in fact sovereign over all, reigns over all of Creation now, and will reign forever over the eternal Kingdom of God. Then comes that little word, “Amen,” this is sure to be.

Some of you may know the old TV show M*A*S*H. One of the cast members is an army chaplain, Father Mulcahy. In one of the episodes, Father Mulcahy offers a prayer among a group of soldiers who know very little of religion. After a moving and eloquent prayer, he ends by saying “Amen.” For a few seconds there is quiet from the soldiers. Then one of the soldiers asks, “is that it?’ Another soldier replies, “Of course! NOTHING comes after Amen!”

But of course, something always comes after Amen. After we are finished praying, after we have confessed that the Kingdom, the power, and the glory all belong to God, we say Amen because we have confidence that what we are saying is sure to be. We know that the final consummation of the Kingdom of God is coming and that the Father is working through us to struggle against and defeat the sinful power of the Kingdom of this Earth. We know that the Kingdom of God is here, and we are a part of the ministry of restoration started by Jesus Christ during His time on earth. And, the Catechism assures us, we can be confident that the Father has heard our prayer. 

Because of that confidence, a confidence expressed by that little word, “Amen,” “we can delight greatly in the Lord; our souls can rejoice in our God, for He has clothed us with garments of salvation and arrayed us in a robe of righteousness.”

Most of us wear some kind of uniform at work that signals what we do. As a lawyer, I have dress up in a suit and tie—I call it my lawyer costume. McDonald’s employees wear uniforms, while nurses usually wear scrubs, and vets seem to wear lab coats. Well, the garments of salvation and robes of righteousness are the uniform of citizens of the Kingdom of God. We wear them now as we struggle against sin and work for restoration, and we will wear them forever as we worship of a holy and sovereign God. They are the uniforms we wear.

We wear that uniform of righteousness while doing the tasks we must do as Kingdom citizens. Obery Hendericks, the writer of the book “The Politics of Jesus” described the task Jesus gave his disciples in the New Testament, and it is the same task he gives us. Hendericks says, “in essence, what Jesus imparted to his disciples was that they must strive for true justice on earth as in heaven, as their righteous service to God; that they must honor God by doing indiscriminate justice, by lifting up ‘the least of these’ on the altar of God's justice and mercy; that they must set into motion a revolution of love and holistic spirituality that demonstrates love for God by treating the needs of even the least of God's children as holy.”

No doubt, it’s a big task. We are striving to bring joy and celebration, to foster peace and reconciliation, to fight for righteousness and justice, to preach love and faith abounding, to exhibit redemption and salvation, and to declare, as Tom Skinner said, that God is here, in the middle of it all!

Amen—this is sure to be. The Kingdom of God is here, and it is coming in power.

V. Conclusion

I’d like to end by reading the words to an old hymn by John Newton, the former slave trader who wrote “Amazing Grace.” This hymn, “Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder” is less well-known than Amazing Grace, but its recent inclusion on a CD of old hymns sung in a modern style by the band Jars of Clay has given it new recognition. The song takes us through the story of redemption, starting with Jesus’ fulfillment of the Old Testament law and the Spirit’s awakening our hearts. Then in verse three and four we hear the themes of the Kingdom—our daily struggle against sin and our present work of restoration and justice. Finally, in the last verse, we look forward in hope to the return of Jesus and the ushering in of the fullness of the Kingdom. The words go as follows:

“Let us love and sing and wonder
Let us praise the Savior’s name
He has hushed the law’s loud thunder
He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame
He has washed us with His blood
He has brought us nigh to God

Let us love the Lord Who bought us
Pitied us when enemies
Called us by His grace and taught us
Gave us ears and gave us eyes
He has washed us with His blood
He presents our souls to God

Let us sing through fierce temptation
Threaten hard to bear us down
For the Lord, our strong salvation,
Holds in view the conqu’ror’s crown
He, Who washed us with His blood,
Soon will bring us home to God

Let us wonder grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store
When through grace in Christ our trust is
Justice smiles and asks no more
He Who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God

Let us praise and join the chorus
Of the saints enthroned on high
Here they trusted Him before us
Now their praises fill the sky
Thou hast washed us with Thy blood
Thou art worthy Lamb of God!”

And all God’s people say… Amen

Note: I preached this sermon twice in March--once at New Hope CRC in Wisconsin Rapids, and once at Calvin CRC, Sheboygan. This is the version I preached at Calvin on March 11.

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