Skip to comments."From the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant" (Funeral sermon on 2 Timothy 4 and Revelation 7)
Posted on 11/25/2018 6:28:53 PM PST by Charles Henrickson
From the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant (2 Timothy 4:6-8, 18; Revelation 7:2-17)
Today we remember our dear brother, Bill McBride. Some of you called him Bucky. I always called him Bill. Or maybe you called him Dad or Grandpa, because he was that, too. You could also call him Soldier, because he was proud of that part of his life, as well.
As youve seen in the obituaries, Bill McBride proudly served his country in the U.S. Army: 37th Field Artillery Unit, Second Indianhead Division, during the Korean War. Good work, soldier! And for decades after Korea, Bill was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Yes, if you got to know Bill, you knew that was a big part of his life, serving in the military. When Id visit him in his home, I could see various memorabilia of his service to our country.
But today I want to tell you about Bills membership in another army, that is, in the church militant. The church militant is a term we use to refer to Christs church here on earth, as we battle and struggle to keep the faith in the midst of a hostile world. And it is a battle! It is a struggle. Our whole life long as Christians, we are facing enemy fire. The devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh are fighting against us, trying to discourage and defeat us and to pull us away from Christ, our Savior. That is why we call the church the church militant, because we are like a military unit, fighting the good fight to keep the faith and finally win the victory.
Well, now we can have the peace of knowing that Bills tour of duty in the church militant has come to an end. His struggle is over. He can say with St. Paul, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. The Holy Spirit called Bill by the gospel, enlightened him with his gifts, sanctified and kept him in the true faith. Thanks be to God!
You see, from the day of his baptism, Bill was sealed with the name of the triune God. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: That saving name and the holy cross was placed on Bills forehead and on his heart, marking him as one redeemed by Christ the crucified. When God placed his name on Bill, he took him as his own dear child, washed away his sins, and sealed him with the Holy Spirit. At his baptism, God also enrolled Bill to serve in the church militant. It comes with the territory when youre a Christian; theres no getting around it. But at the same time, God placed Bill under his protection, so that the old evil foe would have no power over him.
And now, for Bill, that tour of duty is over. Whats next? Again, Paul tells us: Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. Thats what next: the crown of righteousness, the crown of eternal life. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life. Yes, our brother Bill will wear the victors wreath, which the Lord Jesus will award to all believers on the day when he returns.
Resurrection! Victory! Bodies raised whole and glorious! Minds restored to full clarity--and then some. A restored creation: Paradise regained, only better. That is what awaits us. That is what awaits Bill. For now, he rests from his labors. He is at peace, his soul with the Lord even now, as his body awaits the day of resurrection.
And so Bill has been transferred from the church militant to the church triumphant. We get a glimpse of the glory that awaits us in the reading from Revelation 7: After this I looked, and behold, a 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, and crying out with a loud voice, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! Bill will be in that number, rest assured, and so will Bonnie, his beloved wife. I had the privilege to serve them both for many years with Word and Sacrament, the means by which the Lord kept them in the saving faith.
Clothed in white robes, palm branches in our hands, praising the God who gives us victory and salvation: What a scene that will be! But how do we get our robes so white? How did Bill? Gods Word tells us: These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Ah, the blood of the Lamb! There is the secret to our spotlessness! It is because of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus, our Savior, the very Son of God in the flesh--Jesus Christ shed his holy blood on the cross to take away our sin. He did that for Bill. He did that for you. Jesus made the atoning sacrifice that covers all our sins. In him we have forgiveness. In him we have life and everlasting salvation.
What will that eternal life look like? Revelation gives us a hint: Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
No more sin. No more sickness or sadness. No more sorrow. God will wipe away every tear from your eyes. And our Shepherd will lead us to springs of living water. Jesus is our good Shepherd. He lay down his life for us--we, his weak and wandering sheep. And then he took it up again. Jesus took up his life again in his glorious resurrection. Christ, the Son of God, has life in himself, and he graciously shares his life with us. This is our hope of glory. This was Bill McBrides hope of glory. In that faith he lived, and in that faith he died. Thanks be to God.
From the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant: God is faithful to his promises, and that is how our brother Bill lived and died and will live forevermore. In fact, all of us who trust in Christ can say with St. Paul: The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 7:2-17 (ESV)
Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads. And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,
12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,
12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
12,000 from the tribe of Asher,
12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,
12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,
12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,
12,000 from the tribe of Levi,
12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,
12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,
12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.
After this I looked, and behold, a 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, and crying out with a loud voice, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.
May God comfort and sustain his friends and family as they adjust to his change of service.
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