Today as we celebrate the Epiphany of Our Lord, we read a portion of a sermon from Walther’s Works: Gospel Sermons (Volume 1).
May God grant you peace in knowing that Jesus came to save all people from eternal damnation, and may He use you to share His lifesaving Word with people who do not yet believe in Him as Savior.
Dear friends in Christ!
If one superficially ponders how God distributes His Means of Grace among the nations, it is easy to think that He has always limited His grace to one particular nation. This, though, still dominates Jewish thinking today. They suppose that they alone are destined to salvation; they think that God has rejected all heathen. But this error is contrary to God’s honor.
Divine revelation assures us of the very opposite. It says that God’s grace is worldwide, including all men. We are told “there is no injustice with the LORD our God” (2 Chronicles 19:7). Peter and Paul repeat this in the New Testament in the same words. In Ezekiel 33:11 this is stated even more clearly: “As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Paul expresses the same in the words, “[God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4); and Peter, “[God is] not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). From this it is very clear that God does not want the death of a single heathen. He is not willing that even one heathen be lost, but that each of them come to the knowledge of the saving truth.
God, however, was not satisfied with even such proofs of His universal grace. From the beginning of the world He clearly revealed that the Redeemer promised in paradise was for all nations, hence for all the heathen as well. Yes, the Lord said to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that through one of their descendants not only their family and nation but all nations and families of the earth should be blessed. Jacob on his deathbed called the expected Savior the ruler (Genesis 49:10) to whom the nations would cling. All the holy prophets from Moses until Malachi invite all heathen to wait for, to hope for, to take comfort and rejoice in the Messiah as their comfort. As soon as the forerunner of the Savior was born, God opened the mouth of Zechariah to rejoice that the dayspring from on high had visited the Jewish people, “to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79).
Lord Jesus Christ, we laud, we praise, we worship You that, when our fathers did not know God and were without hope, outside the commonwealth of Israel, strangers concerning the promise, and sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death, You rose upon them as a bright morning star. Today it still shines over us, their children’s children. But see! darkness still covers a great share of the earth and gross darkness many people. Break forth also over them as the Sun of grace and truth; may they walk in Your light and their kings in the brightness which has risen upon us. To that end bless the work of Your servants in all lands; awaken ever more people who will say, Lord “here I am, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8). May also many hearts be awakened today to share in the work of the conversion of those who are still far away from the truth. Hear us for the sake of Your glorious name. Amen.
Devotional reading and prayer are from Walther’s Works: Gospel Sermons (Volume 1), pages 77–78 © 2013 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.