235. Monday after Whitsunday. I.
Pour out thy love, O God, into our hearts by thy Holy Spirit. Amen.
Gospel Lesson, John 3, 16-21. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already. because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
Hear this, all people; hear it, all who have sorrow and grief: God loves us all! God, who is Lord of all things, does not want any evil to befall us; he loves us; and his purpose in regard to us is good altogether. Think of it: God loves the world. Hear who it is that loves: It is the everlasting, almighty God, he that “did whatsoever he pleased, in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.’’ He loves; he is love. “The sun shines, the fire warms, God loves.” He is kindly disposed towards us all; he gladly gives us everything that is good. He rejoices in our welfare, and does not want us to be unhappy. Hear also who the objects of his love are: He loves the world; all men. Not one is excluded; all are beloved of God. The good and the bad, the pious and the ungodly, you and I; we all can feel assured that God loves us. Think of this; repeat these words of Jesus aloud when you are by yourself, substituting “me” for “the world,” thus: “For God so loved me, etc. Thus am I beloved of God, I and all mine, and every human being.” — Great is the love of God; infinitely deep and high, and stronger than death. We were lost, and justice demanded the sentence of death on us; but God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son. More than this could not be given. None other is so well beloved of God; there is none whom he holds so dear in his eternal love. Than the Son he could give us nothing greater. When I ponder it, and the Holy Spirit speaks of it to my heart, it becomes clear to me, that this gospel is not of men, but of God; for it never could have entered into the thought of man; — and I feel in my soul the joy of the love of God, a foretaste of eternal bliss. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?” — When God loves me so, who, then, shall be able to separate me from this love ? — God’s only begotten Son is delivered up to death on the cross. According to the decree of love he must be thus lifted up, even as the serpent in the wilderness; and thereby the demands of justice are satisfied. God gave us his Son as a sacrificial lamb; and the Jewish priests sacrificed him for the whole world. Now love can reign; we can. believe it and accept it, rest secure in it, and enjoy it with all our heart. And nothing else is necessary to our salvation. Whosoever believeth in the Son shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
For what is everlasting life but the love of God in Christ? This life is given us; and hence we can have nothing to do save to believe it. Have we any reason not to believe? Is not love truth? Is not un belief falsehood? Is not the gospel light? — Keep this text in your thought, and ponder it in your heart; and the Spirit of God shall surely teach you to believe. It is something great which is to be believed, and faith itself is a great thing; but then, the Holy Ghost, who creates faith in us, is the omnipotent God. — Great is also that which follows, and which Luther expresses thus: “The important thing is not that I may receive crowns and kingdoms, which would leave me under the dominion of sin and death, but that I may be redeemed from death and-hell, and be eternally saved. This it is which this gift shall accomplish, that the fire of hell is quenched, that the devil is cast under our feet, and that a terrified, sorrowful, and bruised heart may become a happy and quickened heart, with eternal life in place of eternal corruption and death.”
Thanks, O God, for thy love; for thy unspeakably great gift! Give us the light of the Spirit to know it, and to believe; that we may not despise this salvation, but may be saved, and may taste thy love in the life eternal. Amen.
Thou strong defense, thou holy light,
Teach us to know our God aright.
And call him Father from the heart:
The word of life and truth impart,
That we may not love doctrines strange,
Nor e’er to other teachers range,
But Jesus for our master own,
And put our trust in him alone.
236. Monday after Whitsunday, II.
Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. Amen.
Acts to, 42-48. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost: For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized. which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
All the prophets testify concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall have remission of sins. All the prophets; — truly, a grand army of witnesses! Shall we not believe them? Are they all wrong, and testify to that which is not true, do you think? Ask the apostles also; their testimony is the same as that of the prophets. Hear, how they all with one tongue declare, that as many as believe in Jesus receive remission of sins through his name. All testify by the Spirit of God, that remission of sins is through the name of him who is the Judge of all. Truly, our God is very desirous that we should believe remission of our sins. When a man has been roused from his sleep, and sees his sin, he finds it no easy matter to believe. Some, to be sure, may in a short time receive the courage of faith; but in the case of others it is a slow process. The devil suggests all manner of doubt in the soul; for if we believe forgiveness of sins through Christ the devil has been defeated. God has, therefore, taken the greatest pains to force conviction upon us. Moses is a strong witness in regard to our sin. You believe him; and with good reason; for Moses is the servant of the Lord, and Jesus has himself certified to the truth of his testimony. But if you believe Moses when he testifies that you are a sinner, shall you not, then, believe all the prophets of God, Moses among the number, and all his apostles, and the Son himself, when they testify with one voice, that whosoever believes in Jesus Christ shall through his name receive remission of sins? You believe that he is the Son of God; you believe that he has taken away the sins of the world; you believe that he is the Savior of sinners, as his name declares;—you believe in him, and yet you doubt that your sins are forgiven you? Do you, then, not understand that your unbelief is hollow and empty, nothing but a lying contrivance of Satan ? Do you not understand that with your unbelief you pit yourself against all the witnesses whom God has sent, and say to them: “I am not sure that you speak the truth!” Nay. you say to Jesus himself: “I do not know, whether or not thou hast the right to be called the Savior!” — Away with unbelief! You who know that you are a sinner, and who intend to sin no more; you who ask mercy for Jesus’ sake, and who have none other Savior; remember this: All the prophets bear witness, that in Jesus you have remission of sins. Shall not the false preaching of the devil be put down? Shall not the word of God stand? It is glorious beyond belief; but it is true nevertheless. Or, is anything impossible with God? Rejoice: your sins are forgiven, and salvation is yours!
Praise be to thee, Lord Jesus, who didst baptize us unto thy name, and dost give us therein so great a mercy. Verily, thou hast taken our sins, and sacrificed thyself for our salvation. When thou hast taken our sins away, they are taken away indeed. Nothing can condemn us. We heartily thank thee; and we pray for grace to believe, and to serve thee for ever, our precious Lord and Savior. Amen.
Jesus, thou friend divine,
Our Savior and our king,
Thy hand from every snare and foe
Shall great deliverance bring.
Sure as thy truth shall last,
To Zion shall be given
The brightest glories earth can yield,
And brighter bliss of heaven.