Jeremiah 23: 23-29
Hebrews 12: 1-13
St. Luke 12: 49-53
“The Blue Sky”
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
Today as we continue to observe the Luther Rose and the many parts that make up this deeply revered symbol of the Lutheran faith, let us quickly review what has already been said thus far.
At the center of this symbol, resting in the center of a red heart is a black cross. To us Christians, this represents how in our hearts rests the cross from which Christ died to save us from our sins. The Cross is the center of our faith and our theology derives and points back to the cross, for through the cross we have been forgiven our sins and graciously received life. This is why the cross is black and the heart not black but rather red. For because we our sinners our hearts most certainly should be black with sin, but because Jesus on the cross took on our sins, it is rather the cross that turns black and through such our hearts turn red.
This red heart which has been brought to life through the life giving cross is nested in a white rose which can best be described as the loving arms of God who is pure and all good and of whom, so long as we have faith, provides for us His children peace and joy. He wants us to be at peace and to be filled with joy, but so long as we doubt Him and turn away from His gracious gifts then we will never receive, but because we do have faith, with the
cross nested in our hearts, we too are nested on God’s warm and safe bosom, accepting the ready gift He so dearly wants to grant us.
Now behind this white rose is a field of blue. There is nothing particularly artistic about this part of the symbol. In fact, it appears to just be a color filling in the gap between the gold ring and the white rose. Of all the parts of the Luther Rose, this one can be understandably forgotten as it appears to be just a mere background. Just like how the chirping of birds in the air become background noise and soundly forgotten as we strike up a conversation with others outside, the blue color in this symbol can likewise become an afterthought to the noisy symbols of the cross, heart, and rose. All the other parts grab our attention, but this part alone is comfortable with being in the background; the same way how the sky is always present yet rarely do we take heed of what the sky has to offer to us. It is always there, never distracting from us nor demanding our attention, but always a constant reminder of the vast horizon and beauty of God’s creation.
Now this blue sky that serves as the background of our Luther Rose is not just some mere reference to the sky above, but of the much higher sky, of heaven and God’s holy kingdom itself. The blue is not the visible heavens with its blue coloration and clouds, but a reference of the more heavenly heavens of which we Christians have all received the promise of receiving.
But that is the thing, the blue sky in our Luther Rose is a promise; a promise already fulfilled and is thus guaranteed for us
who have faith. But so long as we walk this temporal life, this promise serves as an inheritance that is received upon our death. It is nested in the background, but not away from sight. If we but just look we are reminded of this holy promise granted already to us through the cross. And if we pay even closer attention we may recognize the foretastes of this gift that is to come, for example the communion feast which is a foretaste of the amazing banquet feast that awaits us in heaven.
Heaven is in the background the same way our inheritance of certain heirlooms may be in the background. We don’t go about our lives thinking about such inheritance that is not yet ours for we have other things to be concerned about, but we have faith that such will be ours. In similar manner, we should not be concerned with our inheritance of heaven, debating whether or not we will receive it, but rather have an unyielding faith in God and His promise that we will indeed receive it. There is no question in our mind, the inheritance is ours.
Such thinking puts to rest the problem of believing you have to work your way into heaven. This is because you already have the inheritance, the will has already been made, the gift already provided. You don’t have to work your way into heaven because this gift has already been graciously given to you on account of your faith! There is no need to be troubled with such distracting thoughts. If the question of whether or not you are right with God torments you than how will you be able to enjoy the peace and joy that God is trying to gift to you? You are not at peace with yourself. No, you are torturing yourself with thoughts of worthlessness accompanied by meritocracy. Be at peace! You
are saved. For Christ died on the cross for your sake, doing all the work so you won’t have to, going to Hell so you won’t have to, and exchanging to you, His dearly beloved sisters and brothers, the free gift of Salvation and eternal life in heaven.
The battle has already been won. Christ is already the victor. You don’t need to work your way into heaven; it has already been given to you. So don’t beat yourself up on whether or not you are saved. But I did this sin. Do you repent and have faith in Christ? You are saved. But I walked away from the faith. Do you have faith now? You are saved. But my life has been filled with mishaps. Do you deny yourself and place your heart in Jesus’ hands? You are saved. But I don’t feel worthy. Do you trust Christ? You don’t have to be worthy, for Christ is worthy for your sake. You are saved.
Heaven is guaranteed to us who have faith in Jesus Christ. There is no question about that. As for us who hold firm to this Lutheran view, we know we do not deserve heaven, but Christ gave it to us anyways. We know we stumble and mess up and fail God constantly, harming our brothers and sisters, but Christ gave heaven to us anyways. Countless times we have run away from God, but Christ died for us anyways… saying come home.
Too often the Devil tries to remind us of our sins, and by doing so try to convince us that God is withholding his Heaven from us faithful followers on account of our sinfulness. To such
thoughts we must laugh at the Devil and proclaim, “Sin boldly, but even more boldly believe in Jesus Christ.”
Some words from Martin Luther regarding such, “So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!’”
The Devil wants us to be so distraught by our guilt and shame that we come to question God’s forgiveness. He wants to remind us of our sins so as to lead us astray towards paths of temptation that involves meriting our own forgiveness or dismantling the Law; neither are possible. The Devil does not want us to have hope in the Resurrection. He wants us to abandon all hope.
So we rebuff the Devil and all his attempts. We boldly proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ and all the gifts that He has already won for us. We trust the Word of God more than anything the Devil flings our way, placing an unshakable hope that the promise of inheritance has already been granted to us. We begin with the firm belief that because we have faith in Christ we will indeed go into Heaven. And with this as our foundation, we can place our focus properly on peace and joy.
The Devil will always try and convince us that we do not deserve to go into heaven. Our response should always be to laugh in the face of the Devil, saying, “I know, but so what! Christ
died for my sake anyways, and where He is I will follow.” If you know you don’t deserve heaven but that Christ died on the cross to save you anyways, then how can the Devil overcome you? He becomes a laughing stock as he repeats pointless ad hominem. Go ahead and attack my character, I know I’m a horrible person, but guess what Satan, my position as a Christian, as a heir to the Kingdom of God, as an adopted child of the Father Almighty, saved by the precious blood of Christ, far overcomes anything the Old Adam within me will ever do. Go ahead and remind who I am as much as you want, but you’re wasting your breath, for I am saved by God and I will go to heaven!
By the grace of God, this is most certainly true!
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, as we go about the spiritual warfare that rages in our hearts, guide us away from temptation and into the stubborn realization that by faith we are all saved; that no doubt ever enters our minds regarding our heavenly inheritance. In your most holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.