Fourth Sunday after Trinity Sermon A
"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." John 3:18
Here, first, all those who believe upon the name of the only Son of God can hear that they are not condemned, but the unbelievers can also hear from these words of the Saviour, which are found written in the Gospel of John 3:18, that they are condemned already. However they do not want to receive this condemnation of the Saviour, for the grace thieves think they believe although they cannot say when they would have received that true, living and saving faith, from which can be well surmised that they do not have that true, living and saving faith| but an imagination which they have received from the enemy: one dead faith, which they themselves have made and therefore they fear the judgement although they have been condemned long since. They become angry with those who proclaim this severe judgement. As the Jews became angry at John the Baptist and the Saviour because of that barking, which they proclaimed to the unbelieving, so even now the grace thieves become angry with those Christians who proclaim the judgement to them, but they do not become angry with those who proclaim grace to the sorrowless pagans. The Jews also had that faith that God was their father, when they said to the Saviour, "We have a father, even God," but the Saviour said, "Ye are of your father the devil." So the Jews of this time also believe that God is their father although they are of their father the devil. The sorrowless do not believe that they are of their father the devil, but they believe that God is their father. And from where have they received such a faith that God is their father? No doubt the same father as the Jews had has given the sorrowless of this time that faith that God is their father. The same father, the devil, has given them such a false assumption, who had given the Jews that faith that God was their father, although they were of their father the devil.
Now we must consider why all the sorrowless become angry with those who proclaim the severe righteousness and judgement of God to them. The Saviour has said, "He that believeth not is condemned already," but the sorrowless do not believe that, that they are condemned already. If someone says to them that in that unbelieving state they are condemned, then they become angry and say, "You are in pride, you condemn us although we are redeemed with the same precious blood." Certainly you are redeemed with the same precious blood, but this precious blood has flowed in vain in your behalf, when you trample His blood with your feet and mock the tears of the Heavenly Parent with your ungodly life, therefore the blood of the Heavenly Parent has flowed in vain in your behalf. In vain His tears have flowed over you, Jerusalem, who hate the Christians and shed the blood of those who come to admonish you, that you would once know your time of visitation and would think of what befits your peace before the door of grace is closed. Behold, this judgement is now pronounced to the persecutors of the prophets and Christians, who say, "We have a father, even God" and nevertheless kill His Son. They say, "The door of grace is open to us," and nevertheless hate the Christians. They scourge and kill the disciples of Jesus and think thereby they are doing God a service, but all the same they say, "Certainly God is merciful, He will not cast us into hell." Such ones say to their neighbor, "Go to hell," although the Saviour has forbidden and said, "Judge not, lest thou also be judged." But when the Christians admonish and counsel the sorrowless to true penitence and repentance, and thereby want to say to the slaves of the world, "Don't go to hell," then the slaves of the world become angry and say the Christians are condemning them. Which one now is condemning: he who says, "Go to hell" or he who says, "Don't go to hell"? When the Christians say to one slave of the world who is going to hell, "Don't go to hell", then the slave of the world thinks that the Christian is telling him to go to hell, and again when the slave of the world says "Go to hell", then the other sorrowless think that he does not condemn. If one sorrowless one says to another, "Go to hell," the other does not become very angry, but if a Christian says to a sorrowless one, "Don't go to hell," then the sorrowless one becomes angry and says, "Are you condemning me? Are you God?" He becomes angry because a Christian wants to warn him so that he would not go headlong into hell; he becomes terribly angry that he cannot go to hell in peace. A sorrowless person is so drunken with the wine of adultery, that he lies down and sleeps at the brink of burning rapids, and if some good person awakens him, he becomes angry with the one who wakes him and says, "Why do you not allow me peace of sleep? You are just the very enemy, who does not allow a person peace of sleep." And nevertheless afterwards they reprove the Christians and say, "Why did you allow us to sleep in peace and to go to hell? Why did you not cry out to me, so that I would have awakened from the sleep of sin?"
When now according to the Saviour's words, all are condemned who do not believe upon Him, then those few souls who believe and also even those who feel what fools and slow of heart they are to believe, should pray that great Hero of faith, who is the Author and Finisher of faith, that He would help their unbelief and would lend them some grace to believe first, that all unbelieving ones are condemned and second, that all believing ones are redeemed from under the condemnation through that great work of redemption, which has been done in Jesus Christ. Hear, You great Crossbearer and Hero of faith, the prayer of the doubting and those of weak faith. Our Father, etc.
The Gospel: Luke 6: 3642
Since all sorrowless and thieves of grace think they receive justification for themselves from today's gospel, and turn all these words to the awakened, then we must, through God's grace, at this moment consider to whom these words of the Saviour belong. First; Has the Saviour forbidden the disciples from condemning? Second; Has the Saviour forbidden the pagans from condemning? May the high Judge give His grace that all the false judges would be overthrown from their judgement seats and all the true judges would be exalted before that great supreme Judge.
First: Has the Saviour forbidden the disciples from condemning? Certainly. He has forbidden them from condemning as the pagans condemn the Christians, for the pagans would surely wish that all Christians would go to hell. They dare to say also when they become angry, "Go to hell and go away." And when the pagans wish very well for their neighbor, they then say, "May the devil take you and roast you." The pagans have always condemned the Christians to death and to exile. They have condemned the Christians to be burned, to be scourged, to be torn by beasts, to be cast into the depths of the sea, and when the pagans have condemned the Christians to death, then they thought they were doing God a service. Now the Saviour forbids His disciples from condemning in that way, as the pagans condemn, namely in anger and to threaten evil to another from a bad heart, or proclaim wrong judgement. Namely, when the pagans condemn the Christians as false prophets and wild spirits, then they write the wrong judgement and say, "He has blasphemed God." Who has seen more faults in a Christian's life than the pagans? Who has hated and persecuted the Christians more than the pagans, and who sees more motes in the Christians´ eyes than the pagans? In the pagans´ eyes the Christians are false prophets, wild spirits, and an accursed crowd, who do not allow honorable people peace of conscience. But the devil has so reversed the eyes of the pagans, that they think the Christians are condemning when they warn them of the judgement. Namely, when a Christian says to a pagan, "Don't go to hell," then the pagans´ ears hear only the last words, "Go to hell!" The pagan does not hear the first word, which forbids them to go. And when the pagan has the devil's nail in his ear, the forbidding of the Christian sounds as if it were asking the pagan to go to hell although he has forbidden him and said, "Don't go to hell." Not one Christian has yet condemned the pagans in anger and animosity, but the pagans have always condemned the Christians. The Jews became so terribly angry with Stephen that they gnashed their teeth and stopped their ears. And even now some pagans become so terribly angry with the Christians that they shake and become black in countenance like tartars, and some get eyes like goats when someone begins to speak of Christianity. But those wretches do not know that the old man devil drives them like work oxen. And just then when they are at their best, making sausages of the blood of Christians, they say to the Christians, "Do not condemn," although the Christians do no more than to warn the sorrowless of death, judgement, and eternity, and say to the sorrowless, "Don't go to hell." All the same these blind wretches think that the Christians are condemning.
Perhaps now the disciples of Jesus have a right to judge, according to the words of the Saviour: "You must sit upon thrones, and judge the twelve tribes of Israel." However, the disciples of Jesus condemn no one to hell, as the pagans, who say in anger and from an evil heart, "Go to hell." And although according to the words of Paul, Christians also have permission to judge, namely, "A spiritual person judges all things," nevertheless the Christians judge no one to hell, but rather they warn and admonish the sorrowless so they would not go to hell. All the same a wretched sorrowless one thinks that the Christians tell him to go to hell. The pagans judge so, for the pagans certainly wish that all Christians would go to hell, but the Christians have not yet wished that anyone would go to hell. Instead the Christians have always cried out to the pagans of God's severe righteousness and judgement, which awaits them if they do not become penitent and repent in the time of grace. They have cried out as John the Baptist, "Ye generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" They have also cried out louder, as Paul said to one enemy of Christianity, "O child of the devil, full of all subtility and mischief and enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord." Behold, thus a Christian condemns the pagans, but did Paul tell him to go to hell or would Paul have wished him to go to hell, although he rebuked him so severely? Certainly not, but when the pagans get to condemn the Christians, they first tell lies about the Christians, that they are false prophets and wild spirits, then they begin to hate and persecute the Christians with fists and cudgels, staves and sticks. And if they are not able to get rid of the Christians by that means, then they take them before the governor Pontius Pilate and set the Christians before the law so that, in that way, they would get to suck the blood of the Christians. The pagans have, namely, the nature of a blood hound; namely, when a blood hound gets to lap blood, then he is silent. And when the pagans can lap the Christians' blood, then the conscience ceases to bark. As that royal harlot, who was in Herod's palace, did not get peace of conscience before John´s head was carried on a platter. If the pagans had that power that they could push the Christians into hell, certainly they would willingly do it; but thanks to God, the pagans do not have power over the soul and therefore they try to torment the body of a Christian, that thereby they will get peace of conscience. Now the Saviour has forbidden His disciples, that they must not condemn as the pagans condemn the Christians to death, to fines, or to exile. But the judgement of the disciples is a spiritual judgement, when they judge the twelve tribes of Israel. They judge, as Paul says, spiritual matters in a spiritual way, and their judgement is the right judgement. It is not the wrong judgement as the pagan's judgements which has always been the wrong judgement. As the Jews and Pilate proclaimed a wrong judgement of the Saviour, so also the pagans have always proclaimed a wrong judgement of the Christians. Since the devil has reversed their eyes, they look at all matters in reverse; they turn right to be wrong. They see such faults in the lives of the Christians which are an obligation of the Christians, for example the confession of sins, reconciliation with one's neighbor, discerning spiritual writings, and speaking about Christianity; all these matters are, in the pagans' minds,, a terrible sin. So also when liquor is called devil's dung, which in the pagans1 minds is the best blessing on the earth, or if someone pours the devil's dung on the ground, that is, in the pagan's mind, a terrible sin. So the optometrist of the world has prepared such eyeglasses for slaves of the world that they must see the mote and even the dust in the Christians' eyes, but the beam which is in their own eye, the pagans do not see.
Second; Has the Saviour said to the pagans, "Judge not"? In today's gospel the Saviour has not spoken to the pagans of judgement at all, nevertheless the pagans think that the Saviour has not forbidden them to condemn, but the Christians. The pagans, therefore, have permission to condemn the Christians, but the Christians do not have permission to condemn the pagans. No doubt the pagans are satisfied with that, when they hear that the pagans have permission to condemn the Christians? Pilate therefore had power to condemn Jesus, but Jesus did not have power to condemn Pilate. No doubt the pagans are satisfied with that? The Saviour also said to that pagan Pilate, "Ye would have no power over me except it be given from above." No doubt to the other pagans also is given power from above that they can condemn Christians to hell. So the pagans think, that they have that power given from above that they can condemn the Christians. But are the Christians given that power, that they can condemn the pagans? The pagans answer, "No!" Well, no doubt now the pagans are satisfied with that, that they can condemn the Christians. And now the Christians must be quiet when the pagans condemn them, for the Saviour has said to the Christians, "Judge not, lest thou also be judged." But He has not said this to the pagans, "Judge not," but He has given them permission that they can judge, and that power the pagans have received from on high. So judge now the Christians since you have power. What kind of a judgement will you now give us? No doubt you now give us such a judgement that all Christians must go to hell. But Christians do not go to hell according to the judgement of pagans. But if Christians would condemn the pagans to hell, then they must go to hell if the devil does not protect from tribulation of conscience. And although the god of this world is powerful to protect some of the pagans from tribulation of conscience, he has not been able to protect all. That we now see and know for sure, that the god of the world has not been able to protect all from tribulation of conscience. Therefore all pagans can now judge the Christians, but if you yourself do not want to judge, then ask the Jews, for the pagan Pilate said to the Jews, "Take Him and judge Him according to your law." And surely the Jews would gladly judge the Christians, but their law is such a common law which no longer is satisfactory for a guideline in spiritual matters, therefore Pilate must always let the judgement fall on the Christians, directly against his conscience he must judge since the Jews demand. The Jews again have such a law in their gall, that the law of the conscience is not felt at all. And so the life of that righteous Man had to be given under the pagan's law; Christ first and His disciples after Him, had to go to death because of their faith. And thus the pagans have received that power from on high, that they can judge the Christians, and when they cannot condemn the Christians' souls to hell, then they must condemn the Christians' bodies to death, to fines, or to exile. Behold, in this way the Jews, pagans, and Catholics have condemned the Christians, and all of them thought they were doing God a service when they killed the disciples of Jesus. All persecutors of Christians have had that faith, that they have permission from above to condemn the Christians. And this judgement the Christians have had to receive. But who gave the pagans this power, that they can condemn the Christians to death, to fine them, or to sit with bread and water? Has God given the pagans that right that they can judge the Christians in that way? I think that the god of this world has given them such a judgement. Pilate was given that power from on high to judge with the right judgement, but the devil has given him that power that he can wrongly judge an innocent person contrary to his conscience. And that same god of the world has given the Jews, pagans, and Catholics that power that they can kill the Christians. But the Christians are given that power from on high to judge spiritually, and God confirms their judgements and then all the hatred of the pagans must fall upon them. And as the Jews have cried out, "May Christ's blood fall upon us and our children," so Christ's blood has also begun to burn their consciences terribly, and so has the blood of the Christians become burning upon all Jews, pagan, and Catholics, and will always become terribly burning to all enemies of the Christianity. For God has terribly avenged the Jews, the pagans, and the Catholics for the blood of the Christians and will avenge henceforth. But the Christians must shine as the sun when that great day of the Lord comes, and then all persecutors of Christians can see whom they have pierced! Amen.