WORSHIP VIDEO LINK (linked after 10:45 AM Service)






All Saints’ Day 2023
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
November 5, 2023
Rev. 7:2-17, 1 John 3:1-3, Matthew 5:1-12


Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship


            While in college I signed up for Naval Aviation Officer’s Candidate School in order to try to become a Naval Aviator and fly jet fighters off of a carrier. However, after I signed up, I met Jeannette and after the first summer of OCS I decided it was not going to work to be married to Jeannette and fly in the Navy.  God bless military spouses.  One of the toughest jobs in the world. 

            I did learn a lot at OCS the summer of 1987 in Pensacola.  OCS is a lot like summer camp, well, except for Staff Sergeant Norbeck, United States Marine Corps, who never tired of yelling at us and getting us to do all sorts of fun things like clean our rifles, then bury them in the sand, then dig them up and clean them again.  It is all done with the purpose of learning to obey orders without hesitating and to deal with adversity, and that is good, but not particularly pleasant.  One of the activities we had the joy of participating in was boxing.  I don’t know about you, but I do not like getting punched and especially I do not like getting punched in the face – and…well…that was the point.  When I get punched in the face my natural tendency is to lose my cool and attack wildly in anger. The Navy was trying to teach me to keep my head despite the blows.  To keep calm and carry on.  To fight the good fight with careful, calculated punches thrown to gain advantage always keeping my head in the game.  This was one exercise in how to keep your cool under pressure because there is a lot of pressure flying a supersonic jet fighter in combat and then landing on a rolling carrier deck.

            Keeping your cool in the fight is important for sailors and soldiers and airmen and marines…and Christians.  Interestingly St. Paul writes to Pastor Timothy in his first letter that Timothy should… 1 Timothy 6:12 (ESV)  12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”  Fight the good fight of faith.

            And to the Ephesians… Ephesians 6:10–12 (ESV)  10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” 

            You, Christian, are in the fight.  You are part of the Church Militant, the army of God, battling the forces of evil.  You are daily wrestling with the devil, the world and your own sinful nature.  You are in battle against evil along with the rest of the Holy Christian Church.  You are a soldier in the ranks of the 144,000 from every tribe of the sons of Israel; an image of the complete army of God -- the Church Militant -- the Church in the fight.  The first vision in our reading from Revelation is the church lined up shoulder to shoulder, row after row, sealed for the battle.  The hosts of God in conquering ranks combine.  All newborn soldiers of the crucified, bear on their brows the seal of Him who died.  Lift High the Cross all you who are sealed with baptism, the Word of God and Holy Communion, ready to march into the valley of the shadow of death to fight the good fight of faith.  Be strong in the Lord.  Take your stand against the schemes of the devil. 

            A clear example of this in Church history is Martin Luther at the Imperial Diet of Worms in 1521.  Luther was charged with heresy and he is in real danger because heretics are burned at the stake as was done to Jan Hus 100 years earlier at the council of Constance.  Standing before the emperor, surrounded by imperial guards, and facing execution, Luther is asked to recant his writings.  Despite the threats and danger Luther refuses to recant.  He answers the emperor, Charles V, “Since your most serene majesty and your lordships require of me a simple, clear and direct answer, I will give one, and it is this: Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures and by clear reason (for I do not trust in the pope or councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”  Luther stood his ground against the pressure of the Pope and the Emperor and thankfully he had a prince wise enough and powerful enough to protect him and allow him to continue to preach and teach for another 25 years. 

The fight is fierce, the warfare long.  It is dark and desperate on the battlefield as you receive blow after blow from the evil one and His minions.  The blows can come fast and furious and the devil wants you to lose your cool and lash out wildly in anger.  Repent of your anger and do not lose your head.  Keep Calm and Carry On.  This is originally a message of the Ministry of Information to British citizens before World War II.  This is also good wartime advice for you in dark, desperate times in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  Blows come in from all sides.  Taunting, attacking, ostracizing. In our nation you are considered, by many, to be a dangerous, radical, extremist for believing that the Bible is true; that marriage is the lifelong union of a man and a woman; and that life begins at conception and is precious in God’s sight.  In your day to day life you can be called a bigot; and be labeled hateful and unsafe.  Members of your family will turn on you because you believe Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  And there can be literal physical blows.  Christians are under great persecution in so many places around the world.  Beatings, whippings, imprisonment, arson and death. Since 2009 in Nigeria alone, 18,000 churches have been burned, 2,200 Christian schools set ablaze, and over 52,000 Christians murdered by Islamist Militants.  It is dangerous to be a Christian in the world.  Sealed by Christ, the Church is united around the world in fighting the good fight of faith with our only offensive weapon being the sword of the Spirit -- the Word of God.  Keep calm and carry on.  You are a soldier in the army of the Lord and you are sealed, ready for battle.  Matthew 10:28 (ESV) 28 … do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” 

            You are in the fight.  Fight the good fight.  Don’t lose your head because no matter how dark it seems, you are blessed with a blessing for eternity.   

            Matthew 5:11–12 (ESV)  11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

            And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long, steals on the ear the distant triumph song.  While the battle rages in this life you get a glimpse of what is to come.

Life as a Christian in this world is hard.  You are in the fight.  You are fighting the good fight of faith.  You are taking blows from the evil one.  Protected by the Lord, you take your blows, and keep your head, and you keep calm and carry on doing what you have been given to do.

            The second vision in our reading from Revelation comes after the battle.  Revelation 7:9–10 (ESV) 9 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, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  This is the Church -- Triumphant. 

Instead of soldiers lined up shoulder to shoulder in precise order ready for battle, this group is a great, unnumbered multitude not dressed for battle, but dressed for the wedding banquet in the white robe of Jesus’ righteousness waving palm branches of victory and praising God with a loud voice. This is not an army going off to war; these are people at peace with the Lord.  Who are these people?  These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation, their ragged, tattered, battle-scarred robes made white by being washed in the blood of the Lamb.  This is the victory celebration.  This is what awaits you on the last day; the victory celebration of the Lamb of God.  The Lamb shepherds you, and you will be in peace.  Revelation 7:16–17 (ESV) 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 17 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.”  The Lord is your Shepherd, you shall not want.  

            Life as a Christian in this world is hard.  You are in the fight.  You are fighting the good fight of faith.  You are taking blows from the evil one.  Protected by the Lord, you take your blows, and keep your head, and you keep calm and carry on doing what you have been given to do.

            Today we remember all those of our fellowship who have died this past year.  We remember those who have been transferred from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant.  All those who can say with St. Paul… 2 Timothy 4:7–8 (ESV) 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”  Those who have died in Christ are at peace with the Lord until the Last Day when they will be raised up in perfection to celebrate the victory of the Lamb forever in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem. 

            You are in the Church Militant, the army of the Lord, doing daily battle against evil and darkness in your life and in the world until the day you are transferred to the Church Triumphant.  It is a hard fight but you are ready.  You are sealed for the fight, you are not alone, and you know the final victory has already been won.  You know on the Last Day you will be there in the Heavenly City -- one of the uncountable multitude wearing the white robe of Jesus’ righteousness waving palm branches and praising the Lamb forever.  Fight the good fight of faith.  Finish the race.  You are sealed by the Lamb.  Amen.