Messages from Pastor Raddatz

November 7, 2021, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Houston TX, ALL SAINTS DAY, Other texts: Revelation 7:9-17 & Matthew 5:1-12


Dear People of God,

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and savior Jesus Christ,

            1 John 3:1-3 is our text.  I would like us to take a closer look at verse 2: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we hall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”  

     Introduction: They say that if you really want to know what a preacher is all about, or what is at the heart and center of his teaching, or if you really want to know what a church believes, teaches, and confesses, attend a funeral service at that church. Watch what happens at that funeral. Look at what the pastor does and listen to what he says. A funeral tells you so much because it’s in the funeral service that the ultimate questions of life and death and salvation and eternal destiny and God are addressed. As someone once said, a funeral service is about “bottom-line issues.”

And so you can find out a lot about a pastor and his teaching, or about a particular church body, for that matter, by attending a funeral. What hope is given, and on what basis? What doubts are alleviated? What does it all mean—life and death? What joy is expressed in Christ Jesus in the midst of the sorrow of the loss of a loved one? Are the bereaved family members left uncertain about the eternal destiny of their loved one—or worried if he or she did enough to earn heaven—or are they comforted by the Gospel? Are they directed to the good life, the good deeds, of the deceased—that the departed was a fine person who did his or her best—or are they directed to the work of Christ? These are the kinds of things for which you’ll find a variety of answers, depending on what the preacher really believes deep down, or what a church really believes, teaches, and confesses.

These kinds of questions are also relevant for us today as we observe All Saints’ Day. It’s a time of year when we think about those faithful departed who have gone on before us to be with Jesus. Especially will we remember those who’ve left this earthly “veil of tears” during the past year. Since the third century, Christians have gathered together on a special day to remember and give thanks to God for those who’ve won the victory by faith and have gone on to the great scene described by St. John in our first lesson today so that they now rest from their labors.

But as we think about those saints who are now in heaven, we should also remember that those bottom-line issues of life and death and salvation and eternal destiny are relevant for us right here and now too. Our Epistle from the First Letter of St. John instructs us: When God appears again we shall see him as he really is. (Concordia Pulpit Resources “CPR” Concordia Publishing House)


John emphases the “now” and “not yet” nature of the believer’s relationship with the Father. We are now (nun) God’s children. It is a realized fact. Yet, at the same time, there is something awaiting us, as what we will has not yet appeared. The holiness and righteousness that is ours by faith leads to palpable blessings in this life, such as a clean conscience, joy in the face of trouble and persecution (cf. Mt 5:10–12), and a peace that passes all understanding. Yet there is something more, a similitude to Christ (homoioi autoi) such as we have not experienced in this life. In the future there will be a time when “we shall see him as he is” (kathos estin). This similitude to Christ does not imply that the distinction between the Creator and the creature will be obliterated, as so many heresies seem to hope, but rather we will experience Christ in an even more direct and complete way, and, as Luther said, “Yet, we shall be like him. God is life. Therefore we, too, shall live. God is righteous. Therefore we, too, shall be filled with righteousness. God is immortal and blessed. Therefore we, too, shall enjoy everlasting bliss, not as it is in God but the bliss that is suitable for us” (AE 30:268). This is most clearly depicted for us in the first assigned lesson for All Saints’ Day from Revelation 7. (CPR Concordia Publishing House)


            Now, we see God, but he hides behind a mask.  We know the word is from him and it is about him.  It is the inspired and inerrant word of God.  He is present in the elements of baptism and Holy Communion (The Lord’s Supper).  These elements are tied to the Word of God.  They are effective because of the word of God.  

            It’s kind of like a Halloween costume where a mask which hides a person’s identity.  Have you ever seen this, you probably have, where a little child comes to your door all dressed up and calls out “trick or treat” and the child lifts the mask and says, “don’t worry, it’s just me”.  We had a therapeutic foster son, who handled his first Halloween with us.  I think the mask scared the little guy more than anyone else.

            God’s masks are not there to scare us, but he does seem hidden at times. He’s seems hidden when we ask for help and he answers wait.  He seems hidden when someone suffers for being a Christian.  The world does not know him nor does the world give us the truth.  To the world we are HYPOCRITES:  You love God, but you hurt others.  You know God is love but you do not love others.  The world says: “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, but God says you are a sinner and a hypocrite, but I love you and have forgiven you through Christ.


            “See what love the father had loved us with that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”, Romans 5:8.  God has not only called us his children, but he has made us his children through the work of Jesus Christ (v 2).  He has cleansed us from our sins.  Jesus has paid for our sins.  This is a hope that does not fade or rust or spoil!

Our hope is in God; therefore, HOPE is to wait for something with certainty—in anticipation!

Our hope (v. 3) is knowing that we will be like him (v 2). This does not mean we will become God, or a god, like some religions teach.   But it does mean that we will be like him in many ways, enjoying bliss, immortality, and blessedness in his presence.

It means we will see him as he is.

This can only be described figuratively, as John does in our first lesson (Rev 7:9–17). (CPR Concordia Publishing House)


ILLUSTRATION “better lucky than good”

            You have probably heard the phrase, “better lucky than good”?  Hubert Tang experienced this, but his experience has changed how he lives his life.  

Hubert Tang had not purchased a lottery ticket in ten years, but one day he found a $20 bill on the ground and tried his luck.  So he bought two scratch off tickets.  While standing just outside the store, he scratched them and then he turned to the friend who was with him and said, “I just thing I won a million dollars”.   Tang now looks forward to spreading his good fortune.  He intends to leave $20 bills in random locations for others to find.

APPLICATION: You may not have a reserve of $20 bills to share with the world, but that’s alright.  You have the God of love who has no beginning and no end who is your source of hope for the world.  

Conclusion: So on this All-Saints’ Day, we have the answer to life’s—and death’s—bottom-line issues: seeing God for who he really is. We see him as a loving God, whose love is incompressible to those who don’t know him. He is a God who gives us hope. Not just a wishful thinking kind of hope, and not a hope in some utopian fantasy, but hope in the sense of an eager expectation that’s ours because we know we’re called children of God and indeed are God’s children and can go to him just like a child can go to his or her loving Father. And we know that because God’s love for us is so deep that he has washed us clean of our sins, we have the freedom to serve him, the freedom to love our neighbor, and, yes, even the freedom to love ourselves.

That’s not just some kind of “pie in the sky” wishful thinking, but it is the solid truth on which our hope for our departed loved ones rests—and on which our lives in the here and now can be lived when we see God as he really is. (CPR Concordia Publishing House)

May this peace which passes every human understanding keep your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus to life everlasting, Amen

To God be the Glory,

Pastor John Raddatz


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