2 Peter: 2-11
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
It is written in 2 Peter 2: 10Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thus far the text.
Let us pray: Holy Father, you have made us brothers to your Son Jesus Christ. Grant us Your Holy Spirit during this Lenten season so that we may be confident that You will never forsake us and that we may remain confident in the hour of our death and joyful always; in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Lent is a time of somber joy. Somber because you are reminded that you are dust and to dust we shall return (Gen 3:19) meaning, you will die in the body. Joyful because you believe in Jesus the Savior of your soul. In this Gospel death does not have the last say. Jesus does.
After hearing receiving ashes upon your forehead and hearing the Gospel reading
You might think only hypocrites would do such a thing in public. We do it as a little signal of unity among us as a congregation. We do it at the end of the day so no one will see you marked with ashes. Finally, I encourage all of you to go home after the service and wash your face.
St. Peter’s second letter is the topic of this sermon. His first letter focused on justification by faith, That you believe in Jesus is the work of God for you.
St. Peter’s second letter is focused on the fruit of your justification. Fruit does not produce a tree. A tree produces the fruit. The tree is the forgiveness of your sins. Tonight we focus on the fruit of your forgiveness; which is love toward others; with is good works.
The question in particular is this: How can you be confident that you will die in a somber joy?
St. Peter gives us a little roadmap to follow. This Lent ask the Holy Spirit to increase your fruit for the benefit of others while at the same time for the benefit that even in the face of death, you will be joyful.
First, St. Peter says supplement the tree of faith with the fruit of virtue. What does this mean? It means let your faith be seen by others. Attend the Divine Service more often. Attend Bible study more often. Supplement the faith you have with this virtue, the Word of God. Martin Luther has this to say about the difference between lazy Christians and mature Christians, saying:
He, whose manner of living shows that his faith is accompanied by good works and thus becomes strong will have an entrance richly provided for him, and he will enter yonder life cheerfully and confidently. Thus he dies courageously, despises life, departs with pride, as it were, and leaps into the eternal kingdom. But if the others enter at all, they will not go so joyfully. The door will not be open so wide for them. They will not have such a richly provided entrance; but it will be narrow and difficult for them, so that they struggle and prefer a lifetime of weakness to the thought that eventually they will have to die. Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 30: The Catholic Epistles, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 30 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 160.
Second, to the tree of faith add the fruit of knowledge - knowledge about how to lead your outward life in a sensible manner. Not eating or drinking too much or too little.
Third, to the tree of faith add self control - in all outward living, life, words, deeds, bearing with the weak gently, etc.
Fourth, to tree of faith add steadfastness - if you live life well don’t expect to escape attack.
Fifth, to the tree of faith add godliness - serve God and not our own glory
Sixth, to the tree of faith add brotherly affection - help others in their needs.
Finally, to the tree of faith add the fruit of love - this love extends beyond brotherly affection toward friends to helping even our enemies in their needs.
Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.