"Does He Know You?"#86-52
Presented on The Lutheran Hour on August 25, 2019
By Rev. Dr. Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
Copyright 2020 Lutheran Hour Ministries
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Text: Luke 13:23-25
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Now for all who believe, there is salvation. Sadly, for those who refuse to believe, only damnation awaits. By God's grace may you see the Savior has come and wishes to save you. God grant we all believe in the crucified and risen Redeemer. Amen.
People around Mount St. Helens are not in agreement why Harry Truman—and this is not President Harry Truman—why Harry didn't leave his lodge before the volcano blew. State and federal authorities had warned him. Neighbors had encouraged him. The press corps who had made him into a front-page story wanted him to move to a place of safety. But Harry Truman never left his home.
Now more than 30 years after the monumental explosion sent a powdered chunk of mountain heavenward, there is still debate on what kept Harry at the lodge. Some think Harry stayed because he was a stubborn, contrary old man. There are those who think he enjoyed his celebrity status. There are those groups who argue that Harry was protecting his property or, having seen movies of Hawaii's slow-moving lava, felt he could walk his way to safety.
No matter what position a person might have, there are a couple of facts which can't be argued. First, on May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens exploded dramatically. It was not snail-speed lava, but heated gasses—gasses traveling at 300 miles per hour, which raced down the mountain slope. The second fact is this: Harry didn't get out. Harry died.
Now, if you ask me why Harry didn't leave, I'd rather just say I think Harry died because he didn't think he would. I think Harry probably figured the experts were wrong and the volcano wasn't going to blow or that if it did explode, he could still get away or someone would show up to rescue him.
I don't think Harry believed any of those warnings applied to him. And why would I think that? Simple. That's the way we humans work. And if you're responding, "I don't do that." I can only say, did you ever have a speeding ticket? As the officer was writing out the citation, what were your thoughts? Was it something like, "Why doesn't he catch the real speeders like the guy who blew by me ten minutes ago?" See, you think the other guys whizzing by gave you freedom to break the law. You were confident the rule is more for him than it was for you.
Suppose you've never had a ticket. Have you ever exceeded the speed limit? Ever? Why did you do that? Was it because you were keeping up with traffic? Was it because you were late for an important engagement? What was the reason? Well, it really doesn't make any difference, does it? You were speeding because the rule didn't apply to you.
People do what they do because they think rules aren't made for them. Rules are for the other guy. People drink and drive because they're good drivers, and they can hold their booze, and they didn't have that much anyway. The rules don't apply to them. When the doctor tells you to finish the medicine he has prescribed, do you do it, or do you keep the extra pills stashed away? The rules don't apply to you.
Smokers smoke, not because they haven't heard smoking can cause cancer. They know that stuff. They believe that stuff. They just think they're the exception, and the rules don't apply to them. The rule doesn't apply to me. That's what people think. Our neighborhood has a leash law, but that doesn't mean all my neighbors think that law is for their pooch.
The airlines have a rule which says everyone is supposed to turn off their cell phones and other electronic devices. I turn mine off, but some people don't. They keep using them, and they plan to keep using them. Even after the flight attendant stops by and says, "Please turn off your phone," some folks don't—because the rule doesn't apply to them.
Well, have you seen yourself in my list of rules, or don't any of them apply to you? If so, I'm sorry I didn't zero in on your particular feeling of complete immunity—the place you operate with total impunity. Even so, I have absolutely no doubt that you are guilty of the rule-doesn't-apply-to-me syndrome. I think you're guilty because everybody is guilty. Every place I open the Bible, I come across some person saying, "God, Your rule doesn't apply to me."
Take a look. God gave Adam and Eve one rule when He set them up in the Garden of Eden. He said, "Look guys, see this tree. Don't eat it." That's pretty simple. But then the devil showed up, and he did a little wheelin' and he did a little dealin' and then before he was done, Eve had come to believe God's rule didn't apply to her, or Adam, either. They ate the forbidden fruit, and they brought sin and death into the world. That act changed your life, along with your eternal future.
But there's others, many others. God said, "Stay separate from the idolaters." But Lot thought he, his wife, and his daughters could handle the unbelievers. After all, they were mature. They were experienced. They were closely related to Abraham, one of God's special people. "No." They reasoned. "This kind of spiritual segregation doesn't apply to us." By the time it was over, Lot's wife was a chunk of salt and his daughters were, well, you can read that story for yourself.
The high priest, Eli didn't think God's rules about raising kids applied to him. He ended up with two boys who stole from God, seduced the worshipers, and ended up being slaughtered on the battlefield. As far as Eli is concerned, he received a rather unique punishment for his parental indulgences: he fell off a chair and broke his neck.
King David didn't think God's "Thou shalt not commit adultery" applied to him. By the time the dust settled on his sin, he was guilty of murder along with infidelity. Now, those are just some of God's people who thought His rules didn't apply to them.
The evil escapades of Scripture's unbelievers are far, far worse. Whereas the Lord's people said God's Laws didn't apply to them, the unbelievers took God's Laws and perverted them. God gave sex to be an act within marriage, but unbelievers came up with mandatory temple prostitution.
God said He alone is in charge, but the rulers of the world bumped God to the side and said, "People don't listen to God. Listen to me. God doesn't care for you the way I do. I'm the one who loves you and supplies what you need." Sounds familiar, doesn't it? People do what they do because they think the laws don't apply to them.
Now, you should know there are a lot of places, millions of places, were setting aside the rules just doesn't make that big a difference. If you want to brush your teeth sideways rather than up and down, it's not the end of life as we know it. If you want lunch, not breakfast, to be your main meal of the day, that's fine. If you want to feed a fever and starve your cold, it's okay by me. It doesn't make much difference if you think that rule doesn't apply to you. Do you wait an hour after you've eaten before you go swimming? As far as I know, that adage isn't written in stone. Follow it. Don't follow it. It's up to you. But there are times when following the rules can be a matter of life or death.
A few months ago, I was fishing with a friend in Arkansas. He's a pilot, a sailboat builder, and a connoisseur of fine wines. It was as a pilot, I wanted his expertise. I asked, "Do you trust your senses, or do you trust your instruments when you're flying?" His reply was interesting. He said, "Normally, you use your eyes. But there are times when your eyes can lie. At those moments, you rely on instruments."
"Even when everything you know, everything you feel, everything you believe says differently?" I asked.
"It's especially then you trust your instruments." He replied. "Think about it. If there's any chance your senses are wrong, why would you listen to them? Trusting your life to them would be a very big mistake. The rule is you trust your instruments because you know they are right."
"And what if they're not right?" I wondered to myself. He anticipated my unspoken question.
"You have to trust something. Given the choice, your instruments are more reliable than you are. More planes go down with pilots trusting themselves than go down with the man at the yoke, trusting his instruments. Trust your instruments. That's the rule."
My question before you today is who are you trusting when it comes to eternal life? Do you trust yourself, or do you rely on someone? And by someone, I mean, the Lord? Most certainly, He who knows all is more reliable than you are. Now, I'm not trying to put you on the spot here. Well, I guess I am. You see, for years you've heard pastors and priests and friends and family members talk about Jesus and the sacrifice He made with His life upon the cross. You've been told how He forgives sins and provides salvation to all who believe on Him as Savior. A lot of people listen to those things, but then they live as if none of that concerns them. They live as if they're going to break the rules and live forever. Because if you live forever, you really don't have to worry about eternal life.
Now, you may rightly wonder, what are these rules I'm talking about? It's a good question. Let me see if I can give you some examples. God says, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Are you a sinner? No, I don't mean a big sinner. I mean just any kind of sinner. If you are a sinner, it would seem the rule applies to you. It does unless you found a loophole.
Here's another: the Bible says, "Jesus is the only Name which gives salvation." By that the Bible means with faith in Jesus as your Savior, you are forgiven of your sins. But without that faith, you are lost. What do you think, does that rule apply to you, or have you managed to find some exception with your name on it?
Bear with me for a minute as we talk about God's rules. Scripture says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." There's more. For it also says, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you for the forgiveness of sins, for the promise of salvation belongs to you, your children, and all of them God calls." Does that rule speak about you, or are you the one unmentioned exception to the rule? No. You and I both know I could go on quoting these passages and asking these questions.
If I do, you are going to feel uncomfortable, and I'm going to be beating a dead horse. The truth is this. In His holy Word, God has told us that we on our own are lost. With Jesus as our Savior, we are forgiven of our sins. We are saved, and heaven—not hell—is our final destination. Boil the Bible down to its absolute very, very basics and that's what you will find. With Jesus as Savior, there is salvation. Without Jesus, there is only damnation. That's the rule.
Sadly, many live their lives as if God's rules don't apply. They live as if they were playing a board game and they had just been given a get-out-of-hell-free card. Now, I know I shouldn't be glib about such a serious subject, too much. Your eternal life hangs upon you knowing you have to play by God's rules.
Let me ask, what are your reasons for ignoring those rules? Probably some of you will say, "It's just not important to me." Others will reply, "Religion turns me off." I can understand that. Sometimes it turns me off. Still, that doesn't negate God's rules regarding salvation. Is it possibly you just haven't given the matter much serious thought? Maybe you're a person who knows they're going to die but lives as if you weren't. You wouldn't be that foolish, would you?
Why would you ignore God's rules for salvation? Is it indifference? That would be just as bad. What are your reasons? I don't have time to cover them all. Let's just say you have your reasons. There are a lot of them—reasons not to believe.
Centuries ago, when our Savior was among us, somebody who had been listening to Him came to the same conclusion. There are a lot of reasons for people not to believe, to ignore God's rules for salvation. Thinking about the endless march of souls heading towards hell, the person asked, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?"
Jesus didn't answer the question directly. He simply said, and I think His words speak to all unbelievers, Jesus said, "Many will seek to enter heaven and not be able to." You see, Jesus knew that time would come when people would look at their excuses and realize those excuses weren't getting them in to heaven.
Now, if an individual figures that out before their moment of judgment, great, grand, wonderful. The moment the Holy Spirit places faith into his heart, the blood of Jesus Christ will forgive him of every sin he has ever committed. At that moment, he will no longer be a spiritual orphan facing eternity alone. He will be adopted into the family of faith, and he will have a home in heaven. But Jesus isn't just for eternity; He's also for the here and now.
A believer's present life will also be changed as well. No longer will he be alone, for he will have a living Savior by his side. No longer will he be overburdened by life's woes, for Jesus has encouraged him to cast his burdens on Him. There, that's a short summary of God's rules. He wants you to be saved and has done all that is necessary for you to be saved. Jesus has fulfilled the Laws for you, carried your sins for you, even conquered death for you. All you need do is believe—believe before it's too late.
Yes, the time will come when it will be too late. If you wait until you die, it will be too late. That's the rules. And even if you think that rule doesn't apply to you, it does. That's what Jesus said when He was asked. "Is the number of heaven-bound people going to be small?" He said, "A lot of people are going to try to get into heaven and won't be able to." When you die, the door to heaven is locked, and you can stand there trying to get in as long as you want. You will say, "Lord, Lord, open up heaven for us." But the Father's going to say, "Sorry, I don't know you or where you came from. The door is shut, and it's going to stay shut."
Now, this whole message is designed to make sure nobody who hears my voice will ever be shut out of heaven. You don't want to be shut out of heaven. On that day you would do anything, give anything, to get in.
And how do you get in?
God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son. Whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. That's God's rule. Believe it. Now is the time. This is the day to realize that rule is in force. Why today? Because another rule of life is you don't know when it's going to end. Before I preach again in two weeks, any number of people hearing my voice today will be dead.
Now is the time to believe.
Years ago, Robert Robinson ventured out on a sunny Sunday morning in London. Sadly, his mood didn't reflect the day. Robert Robinson felt alone. The faith which he once had held was gone, and it had been years since he had been in church. When Robinson heard a cab coming, he lifted his hand for a ride, but he stopped when he realized the cab was occupied by a lady going to church. She had the cab stopped and offered to share.
As the carriage rolled along, the lady and Mr. Robinson introduced themselves. She recognized his name. "What an interesting coincidence," she said. Reaching into her purse, she withdrew a small book of inspirational poems. She handed him the open book and said, "I was just reading a verse by a poet named Robert Robinson. Could it be?" Robinson confessed to being the author. "How wonderful." The young lady said. "Imagine, I'm sharing a carriage with the author of these very lines."
But Robinson barely heard her.
He was reading his own words—words which would someday become a powerful hymn that read, "Come now, Fount of every blessing. Tune my heart to sing Thy grace. Streams of mercy, never ceasing. Call for songs of loudest praise." Then he read the last verse: "Prone to wonder. Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart. Oh, take and seal it. Seal it for the courts above."
With tears, Robinson confessed, "I wrote these words, and I've lived these words, 'prone to wonder, prone to leave the God I love.'"
The woman understood and added, "You also wrote, 'Here's my heart. Oh, take and seal it,' Mr. Robinson. It's not too late." And it wasn't too late. Mr. Robinson became the Lord's own. Just as I pray you will, too. To that end, if we can help you, please do not hesitate contacting us. Call us at The Lutheran Hour. Amen.
Reflections for August 25, 2019
Title: Does He Know You?
Mark Eischer: You're listening to The Lutheran Hour, and we just heard a classic message from Pastor Ken Klaus titled, "Does He Know You?" I'm Mark Eischer here in the studio with our Speaker, Dr. Michael Zeigler. You mentioned earlier that you spoke recently with Pastor Klaus. Our listeners probably want to know how's he doing?
Mike Zeigler: He's doing well. We had a good chance to reminisce on his time serving as Speaker of The Lutheran Hour, and I asked him, "What was something that you loved, that you enjoyed, that you would want to share with the listeners?" And he said that he loved meeting people who said that they had been impacted by something that he said, people he had no idea he was talking to. He said that he often imagined who his listeners were, but as was always the case, the Holy Spirit knew exactly who He was going to bring.
He said one time he was at a rest stop in Iowa, and he felt a large hand on his shoulder, and he turned around, and this gentleman is 6'6" and a large guy, and he said, "Are you Ken Klaus?" And Pastor Klaus said he didn't know if he should stay or run, but the gentleman told him that he was a truck driver and that he said, "I speak for a lot of other guys, and it means a lot to hear you on the radio." And he said those were the kinds of meetings for him that made this position so special.
Mark Eischer: In this particular sermon, Pastor Klaus kind of did a turn on the word "rules."
Mike Zeigler: Yeah.
Mark Eischer: Maybe we could talk about that a little bit. Sometimes people get the impression that Christianity is just about rules, following rules, and if you follow the rules, then you deserve or you've earned something, but that's not really the point that he was making.
Mike Zeigler: Exactly. It came out in his illustration with first how rules are designed to protect and save life, not to harm life, with the example of trusting your instruments as a pilot, not your eyes, because even your eyes will lie, and so to remember that rules are a good thing. You think of how if you were playing a board game and somebody's not following the rules, the game is no fun. The rules are what makes the game, so to speak, sustainable, and it gets better as you play it. If you don't have some kind of structure, it quickly devolves into chaos and nobody wants to play.
We talked about this in our series on these core teachings of the Bible, that that's what God's rules are about. They are, at the fundamental level, love. He protects what He created through this structure that He gives to reality, and even more so, He bears the burden. He Himself bears the burden to keep the rules, to keep it together, and He did that through His Son Jesus.
Mark Eischer: And in listening to this sermon, what else stood out to you? What else made an impression on you?
Mike Zeigler: At closing the story, he had about Robert Robinson, the poet, and I didn't know that story about that he was the author of this beloved hymn, "Come Now Fount," and that he had actually fallen away from the faith. And this woman meets him in the carriage and shows him his own poem, and he reads it again. I love how he included that, her words to him, that there's still time for you. And I think it shows us that when we talk about coming into the kingdom, not being locked out or shut out, it's not just simply about knowing things in your head. It is letting the Word of God sink into your heart and trusting Him and trusting your life with Him, not just for afterlife, but for this present life right now. And we, like the hymn says, we're "prone to wander." We go back and forth, but He's always faithful. He's always sending us people, calling us back in. So I really appreciated that little scene from history.
Mark Eischer: Well, we're coming now to the end of another broadcast season. Next week begins our 87th broadcast season. What can listeners look forward to hearing?
Mike Zeigler: We're going to be starting a series on the book of Genesis, so we'll begin at the beginning and see what we can learn about Jesus through hearing these foundational accounts of His people in the Old Testament.
Mark Eischer: And you'll have a guest joining you also for this segment of the program, won't you?
Mike Zeigler: That's right. We will have Professor Charles Arand from Concordia Seminary, and he's going to be reflecting on some of these key events from the book of Genesis. We're also going to be starting our podcast that we've mentioned a couple of times, a new program that will be available for online listening, whether it's iTunes or Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. The title is "Speaking of Jesus." And you could think of that as the conversation that happened after the message in the studio with a group of about four or five people who sat in and listened to it be recorded, and now they're sharing how it impacted them. And the people are doing a lot of the talking. I'm simply the moderator of the discussion. The name of the podcast is "Speaking of Jesus." Please, if you like it, subscribe, leave us a five-star review, and share it with your friends.
Music Selections for this program:
"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.
"A Multitude Comes from the East and the West" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)