The Second Sunday of Easter April 23, 2006
202, 784 [TLH alt. 410], 385, 209(4)
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
In the name of Jesus who lives triumphant from the grave, dear fellow-redeemed:
When I put on my first pair of glasses it was an amazing event. I was 28 at the time, but it was still amazing because I had forgotten how things should look. I remember driving back from the optometrist and seeing individual stalks of wheat in the fields rather than one big blur. I could read road signs again. I didn’t have to ask my children what time the VCR clock showed. Putting on sunglasses or 3-D glasses also change the way in which you look at things.
With or without actual glasses, every person has his own way of looking at things. Some are conspiracy theorists or are paranoid, believing that the world is against them. Others may have the perspective of Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh books and be pessimistic about everything. The optimist is said to see the world through rose-colored glasses. That is to say, whatever occurs he would look at it from the perspective that everything is rosy. Nothing looks bleak to such a person.
As Christians we have the privilege of viewing the world through resurrection-colored glasses. In other words, we are able to look at every event in this life from the perspective of and with the comfort of Jesus’ resurrection. This also changes our view of God from an angry judge to a loving father. Amazingly enough, God also looks at us through resurrection-colored glasses. He sees us, not as sinners, but as saints. May the Holy Spirit enrich us through a study of His Word and enhance our view through RESURRECTION-COLORED GLASSES. I. Christ’s resurrection changes God’s view of you; and II. Christ’s resurrection changes your view of God and of life
We all have a view of ourselves, but it isn’t always accurate. There is an old poem which concludes with the thought that it would be a gift to see ourselves as others see us. This is not just true in a physical sense, but in other ways too. A person might think that he’s very funny and gregarious, but everybody else sees him as loud and obnoxious. He might see himself as shy and unassuming, others might view him as stuck-up. But what about seeing ourselves as God sees us.
We have that very picture presented to us in the Bible. God’s view is dependent upon whether or not He is wearing resurrection-colored glasses, or to be more specific, whether or not we are justified in His sight. God wants us to have an accurate view as well because if we don’t, then we do not understand the basics of sin and grace.
There can be no doubt about our guilt before God. The commandments of God clearly show us that He is not concerned merely with going through the motions of doing the right thing, but that hearts must be aligned with the will of God. Whatever is wrong in the heart is a breaking of God’s commandments just as if the action had occurred. Jesus makes this clear in His Sermon on the Mount. Because of this truth, I could accurately say that I am standing before blasphemers, murderers, thieves, and adulterers. In the same way, you are being addressed by a blasphemer, murderer, thief, and adulterer. Nothing is hidden from God’s sight as He investigates hearts and lives. No word or deed or thought will slip by His watchful eye. That is His view without the death and resurrection of Christ.
But when God sees us through the resurrection of Christ He does not see one sin. He sees saints—holy ones of God. From time to time we hear talk of the Roman Catholic Church elevating someone to sainthood status—most recently, Pope John Paul II. This kind of sainthood is based on what the proposed saint has done. The only one who can truly make the declaration of sainthood (as Scripture defines it) is God Himself, and He has made that declaration to every believer. Having been justified through the redeeming work of Christ God declares you, “Not guilty,” and your status before God is changed. The way He sees you is changed because He sees you clothed in the robe of righteousness that Jesus has won.
There is no midpoint between sinner and saint. This is not the way we usually view other people. In our courtroom system even if a person is declared not guilty there may be stigma of guilt around him. Just ask O.J. Simpson or the police officers in the Rodney King case. In the eyes of the law they are as innocent as any other citizen, but not so in the court of public opinion. But when God declares you righteous that is all you need to hear. No one else’s opinion really matters. While it’s true that we will have our sinful nature wreaking havoc upon our soul and life until the last trumpet sounds, when God says, “Not guilty,” that carries eternal weight.
The beginning of our text picks up the train of thought concerning the justification of Abraham and how righteousness was imputed to him through faith—that is to say righteousness was credited to his account. This is important for us to know because God has not changed how He credits righteousness. It still is done through faith. In this way the forgiveness of sins that was won for the entire world is given to a person individually. If you are not connected to Christ, then God does not view you through the resurrection. The blessings of forgiveness do not belong to you. If you know Christ as your Savior then you are connected to Him, and it doesn’t matter what other people say. It doesn’t matter if your own heart condemns you. What does matter is how God sees you. He sees you as not guilty because of Jesus, “who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” [v.25]
There are changes that occur when you view God through the resurrection of Christ. Without that view you would not be able to help but view God as unapproachable. You would see Him as a random force, or a ruthless dictator, or as an angry judge. How could we not? If, apart from Christ, we were to think of God as anything less than an almighty punisher then we would be the most delusional people in the world. His Law is clear. The knowledge that He has imbedded in us from birth is clear. Our conscience speaks loud and clear: Sin equals punishment.
But what about looking at Him through resurrection-colored glasses? That changes everything. Now you know that God loves you. You know that you have a relationship with Him as child does to his father. “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” [vv.1-2] You not only have access to the Creator of the world, but also have peace with the One who will determine your eternal destination. You have a heavenly Father who is able to help you in your time of need.
This makes you view every event in life differently as well. Being a child of God you do not see random chance, but the plan of a God whose ways are higher than our ways. We do not see the vengeful hand of an angry God, but the merciful hand of a compassionate Father. We do not see ourselves as being punished, but as being disciplined. We see death without its sting. We see life as an opportunity to glorify our Redeemer.
With resurrection vision we also see the chain reaction of tribulation rather than just looking at a singular event. That is explained to us in the last few verses of our text: “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” [vv.3-4] If we would take a shortcut, we could accurately say that tribulation produces hope. You cannot come to that conclusion without looking at it on the basis of the resurrection.
In times of tribulation (literally it is like being squeezed in a vise) we may want to take off our resurrection-colored glasses and feel sorry for ourselves. We may want to blame God for the problem that is before us. Then you have to go back to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. You know that God is not intending to crush you, but to actually strengthen you and refine your vision. You will learn patience, which is a godly virtue. You will stand as one who is approved (the definition of “character” in this verse). You will learn to look upon your Savior even more than before and this can only lead to hope—hope in this life and in the one to come.
“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” [v.5] The hope of a Christian is never let down. God has built up in our minds and hearts the hope of Heaven. We are not going to get to Heaven and say, “Is this all that there is?” Heaven will not be like a vacation destination that we have built up in our minds but which cannot live up to expectations. Heaven will be better than we ever imagined!
This life on earth need not disappoint either because the love of the Holy Spirit has been poured out in your heart—not just a few drops, but poured out and given to you in abundance. In this life you can be overwhelmed and amazed at the goodness of your God.
I don’t know if anybody’s life has turned out exactly like they expected or in the way they wished. If that were so I would be nearing the end of my big-league baseball career. But you can rest assured that one thing in your life has occurred that makes it worthwhile: God has sought you out and found you and made you His own. He justified you and sees you in the best light possible. He sees you through resurrection-colored glasses. Your view from those same glasses is fantastic as well. Amen.
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