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All Saints’ Day 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
November 1, 2020
Rev. 7:2-17, 1 John 3:1-3, Matthew 5:1-12

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            A few years ago to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary Jeannette and I planned a trip to a resort in the Dominican Republic.  It was fun and exciting to plan the trip and for almost a year we looked forward to the adventure of going to an all-inclusive Caribbean resort.  It was a great trip and once we were there the days flew by and too soon it was time to come home.  The trip only lasted a week, but knowing that you have vacation coming up is exciting as you plan and make reservations and think about where you are going and what you’re going to do.  The holiday is planned, and God willing you will get to go.  For the time being though, you still live your normal day to day existence but you do it with the anticipation of the upcoming vacation; you have something to look forward to. 

            As a Christian you have an eternal vacation coming.  The reservation has already been made, everything has been booked; it is a done deal.  All is prepared, but it is not time yet.  For now you still walk in the valley of the shadow of death.

            The day is coming when you will be free from all of the sorrows and struggles of this life and you will live in the perfect peace and holiness of Jesus’ presence in the heavenly city.  The day is coming when everything will be perfected.  Revelation 21:4 (ESV) 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”[1] That day is coming, but you don’t know when. 

            On this All Saints Day we remember those who have died in the faith.  Today I want to talk about the kingdom of heaven because there is a lot of confusion.  What is kingdom of heaven?  Where is it? How do I get there?  The kingdom of heaven is not so much a place as a reign, an authority.  The kingdom of heaven is God reigning, ruling, in Jesus.  John the Baptist and Jesus both preach the same sermon, Matthew 3:2 (ESV) 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”[2] Jesus is King, and He comes into the world to be the sacrificial Lamb of God who dies on the cross for the sins of the world and rises from the dead to conquer death forever.  Jesus is King who reigns in humble, sacrificial, suffering service.  Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.  It is near in Jesus.  Turn from sin and follow Jesus.

            The kingdom of heaven can be a bit puzzling for us because it has three stages; the Church Militant, the Church at Rest and the Church Triumphant.  For simplicity I will call them the kingdom of heaven stage one, two and three.  There is the kingdom of heaven stage one in which you currently live as a baptized follower of Jesus.  Matthew 5:3 (ESV) 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.[3] Theirs’ is the kingdom of heaven; present tense. You are marked and sealed by God in your baptism.  Just as the houses of the children of Israel were marked with the blood of the lamb so the angel of death passed over them in Egypt, you have been marked by the blood of the Lamb of God for salvation on the Last Day.  You are poor in spirit.  You know you are not good enough.  You know you cannot do it yourself.  You know you need Jesus and have nothing to offer Him in exchange for His forgiveness.  You are poor in spirit.  Matthew 5:3 (ESV) 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.[4]

In the kingdom of heaven stage one you live under the reign of God.  You pray God’s will be done in your life.  You are most familiar with this stage because it is your life.  It is a life of being right now marked by God for salvation; destined for eternal life in the heavenly City of New Jerusalem, and at the same time of not yet being there.  Life in kingdom of heaven stage one is an ongoing struggle against the devil, against the world and against your own sinful nature.  As someone who lives under the reign of Jesus in this broken world, you feel the struggle everyday as you battle against your own sinful desires in order to delight in God’s will and walk in His ways.  It is a life of contrition and repentance.  Kingdom of heaven stage one has the joy of forgiveness in Jesus, and the ongoing sorrow of living in a fallen world where there is death, mourning, crying, pain.  Kingdom of heaven stage one is now and not yetNow you are saved but you are not yet in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem.  In stage one, the Church Militant, You have been redeemed, but you are still fighting against the spiritual forces of evil in this world.  Ephesians 6:11 (ESV) 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.[5]  1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV) 58 … be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. [6] 

When you die, your body is buried in the ground and your spirit goes to be with the Lord to wait for the day of resurrection when body and spirit will be reunited.  In death you are asleep in Christ.  This is kingdom of heaven stage two; the Church at Rest. We don’t know very much at all about this time between physical death and the resurrection of the dead.  The cliché tombstone inscription of R.I.P. is actually pretty good.  Rest in peace until the Lord comes to raise you from the dead.  “In its narrow chamber keep, my body safe in peaceful sleep, until thy reappearing.” (LSB hymn 708).  Too often we are tempted to overstate what happens to our loved ones who have died in the Lord.  We want to transport them fully to after the day of resurrection when the perishable will put on the imperishable and the mortal will put on immortality and they will walk on the golden streets of the heavenly city.  That day will come, but it has not yet come.  Our loved ones who have died now rest in peace while the whole creation groans to be set free from the bondage to decay.  Your loved one is at peace, but there body is still buried and you still live with sin and sorrow and struggle.  You live with disease and death.  You still mourn the loss of your loved ones while they are asleep in Christ in the kingdom of heaven stage two.

When Jesus returns in glory on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead He will usher in kingdom of heaven stage three.  The Last Day will be the First Day of eternal life in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem. The dead will be raised, the earth will be destroyed and restored, and then there will be…Revelation 21:1-4 (ESV) 1 … a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”[7]

The kingdom of heaven stage three is…1 Corinthians 15:54-55 (ESV) 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”[8]  On that day the dead in Christ will rise and death will be defeated forever.  On that day those who have rejected Jesus will be raised up and judged based on their own actions in this life while those in Christ; those covered by the robe of Jesus’ righteousness, will be raised up and judged based on Jesus’ perfection. On that day, as a baptized believer in Jesus, you will be part of the Church Triumphant, a… Revelation 7:9-10 (ESV) 9 … great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”[9]  On that day the dead in Christ will rise with imperishable, immortal, perfected bodies to live forever with Jesus.

            On that day the future tense blessings of the beatitudes from our Gospel reading will be fully realized in the kingdom of heaven stage three.  The mourning will be comforted.  The meek will inherit the earth.  Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied.  The merciful will receive mercy.  The pure in heart will see God.  The peacemakers will be called the sons of God.  The persecuted will be rewarded. 

            That day is coming, but has not yet come, when evil will be altogether destroyed, and you and all the saints in Christ will go marching into the Heavenly City through the gates of pearl where you will live in the peace and presence of God forever.  That day is coming and so through these difficult days of the kingdom of heaven stage one, you can live with the certain knowledge that better days are coming. The struggle is easier when you know that this world is not forever.  The day is coming when you will get an eternal holiday; a permanent vacation from sin, evil and death.  Knowing you have an everlasting home in heaven strengthens you today to remain steadfast and faithful and fight the good fight. 

You have been baptized into Jesus’ death and resurrection and into the kingdom of heaven.  You are marked and sealed to live under the reign of Jesus.  You are destined to live in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem forever.  Amen. 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[5]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[6] The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[7]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[8]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[9]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

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