Sermon number 36B. Second Pentecost Day 1854 (?)
Our Savior says in the gospel of this day: "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." John 3: 17.
These words of the Savior belong especially to the penitent souls, who are not able to believe that God is merciful, even if the gracethieves own these words for themselves and imagine that it is written to them. But we know that these words are written to the doubting and penitent souls, who are not able to believe that God is merciful to them.
The Savior has indeed spoken these words to Nicodemus, but he has not spoken to Nicodemus with that purpose that Nicodemus himself would have been according to his body or soul in any kind of tribulation or in lack of faith. As the gracethieves and the servants of selfrighteousness imagine, that Nicodemus was penitent and doubting or condemned by the conscience, but the Savior has explained the order of grace to Nicodemus, so that he would comprehend why the Savior has come into the world. "He has not come to condemn the penitent souls but he has come to save them.
No matter how much the world own these words to itself and say: "It is the world Jesus has come to save," he has not come only to save the penitent souls, but he has come to save the world. Therefore we must put the words which are written in the same gospel in front of the eyes of the world, namely "this is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."
How can the world therefore own for itself consolation of these words: "God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world," when the condemnation is immediately proclaimed to the world. He says namely: "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. Certainly the Savior has come into the world to save sinners who really recognize that they are sinful. But the world becomes angry when it is rebuked for sin. How can the world then become saved by him?
The world does not need any Savior, but the penitent, sorrowful, disheartened whom the world hates and despises, they feel that they need a Savior, and for their sake Jesus said to Nicodemus: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
But this kind of order of grace Nicodemus did not know, even if his brothers of faith wanted to say that the Savior has said so to Nicodemus. He has neither said so to the penitent souls nor to his own disciples, but to Nicodemus. But Nicodemus brothers of faith shall not think that these words fits best to them: "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world," because Nicodemus is so virtuous man that he does not tolerate to hear the condemnation. But his brothers of faith imagine that the Son of God has not come to condemn them, but only the publicans and sinners.
But we hear of other words of the Savior: "That he has not come to call the righteous ones into repentance, but the sinners." Nicodemus was a righteous man, and all who are in the faith of Nicodemus are also so righteous that they do not have any sins to regret. They are the ninetynine righteous who do not need to make repentance. Thus the publicans and sinners are allowed to own these words: "God sent not his Son to condemn the world." As long as the penitent publicans and sinners are able to own these words they are free from the condemnation. But if they because of unbelief and selfrighteousness are not able to own these words of grace, then they own the other words: "He that believeth not, will perish." And "he that believeth not is condemned already."
Which words do you own now, you sorrowful and penitent souls? And you doubting souls! Which words of the Savior do you own: "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world", or these other words: "He that believeth not is condemned already?" I think that the penitent, sorrowful and doubting souls have by own experience felt how true these words are: "He that believeth not will perish." They certainly have experienced that the unbelief presses the penitent souls into hell, and on the other hand even the believing souls have experienced the power of this word: "He that believeth will not be condemned." Which words the penitent and doubting (souls) own now? I think, because they still are many who doubt even if they certainly feel how unhappy they are in that state (of soul) but indeed have the desire to become blessed for ever, (I think) that they make Jesus sorry and they also plague the Crucified (one) if they even let his blood shed in vain, if they even turn their eyes away from his wounds and say: "The Son of God has not come to save us, but he has come to save the world."
When Jesus said to his disciples: "You are not of the world", could they think that Jesus is not their Savior. When he said to Nicodemus: "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world" could the disciples of Jesus think in this way: The Son of God has not come to save us but (he has come to save) the world. Or can the doubting (souls) now think in this way: "God has not sent his Son to condemn the world, but (he has come to condemn) the penitent souls? Such a belief will come upon some doubting souls and prisoners of unbelief. When the devil of selfrighteousness gets a real power to rule over the penitent souls, they receive that kind of belief that the Son of God came to condemn them, but it was the world he came to save.
The one who accuses the children of God day and night is the devil of selfrighteousness. And the penitent souls he accuses all the time and he says: "It is no idea that you believe that the Son of God cares of you as far as you are such you are." And he makes himself so righteous that the penitent (souls) are not able to think anything else but that it is the conscience which condemns them. The devil of selfrighteousness requires a pure heart before he allows the penitent (souls) to go to Jesus. Where will the penitent (souls) receive a pure heart from except by Jesus who alone is able to make their hearts pure?
Do not plague Jesus anymore, you unbelieving (souls), but come now such as you are, and believe that God has not sent his Son to condemn you, who were already condemned before he came. If you still plague him by your unbelief, then it can happen that Jesus dies because of sorrow and you must die for ever.
Hear, you author and finisher of faith, the sigh of those who are sorrowful, penitent and doubting. Our Father etc.
The gospel: John 3: 16.
In the first part of the gospel of this day are (written) quite sweet promises of grace, but in the latter part is the condemnation (proclaimed). We shall now by God's grace consider who can own these promises of grace which are written in this gospel.
First consideration. Can Nicodemus own these promises of grace? Second consideration. Can the grace thieves own these promises? Third consideration. Can the penitent (souls) own these promises of grace?
We know that by the world is meant the people who are in the world, namely the Mohammedans and the pagans, the Jews, the Scribes and the Prarisees, the publicans and the sinners who live on the Earth. If all of them would now own these promises of grace, all of them would without doubt become saved. But the Bible shows that the promises of grace do not belong to all, even if all would own them. It depends not only on owning but it depends of the state of soul the people are who own these promises of grace.
First consideration: Can Nicodemus own for himself these promises of grace: "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved?" We do not know how Nicodemus understands those words of the Savior, but I suppose that Nicodemus and his brothers of faith own for themselves these delightful promises of grace as the words would have been spoken expecially to them. Nicodemus is not so angry with the Savior as the Scribes and the Pharisees. Nicodemus has come to Jesus at night in order to ask him how he could become saved.
Nicodemus confesses his faith even if he does not (really) believe that Jesus is the Messiah or the Son of God, but he believes however that Jesus is a spiritual teacher, or in other words, that he is sent by God as a teacher. But sorry to say, Nicodemus has no sins to regret. Nicodemus does not feel that he is under the rule of the devil. He does not know that the rebirth is necessary to him. And therefore Nicodemus is far away from the feeling of grace.
But for sure he owns these promises of grace, that God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world. Nicodemus has lived so virtuously that not even the devil can condemn him. How could he then become condemned by the Son of God, who is so merciful to the whores and thieves, publicans and sinners, that he does not even condemn them. How could the virtuous people be condemned by the Son of God, who did not even condemn that whore whom the Pharisees brought to him? Of this follows that all Nicodemus' brothers of faith, all virtuous people own these delightful promises of grace for themselves, even if these delightful promises of grace do not belong to them, but only to the penitent (souls).
Second consideration. Can the gracethieves own these promises of grace? Yes, for sure, because the gracethieves are such people who without penitence and without repentance own for themselves God's grace and the forgiveness of sins, just like the Jews who believed in Jesus said to him: "We have one Father, even God. We be not born in fornication."
When such bastards whom the old man has killed immediately after the birth hear from Savior's own mouth that "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world," they say: "Do you not hear, you severe judges, that the Son of God has not come to condemn the world. Why do you then come and condemn us? If the christians would still say to the gracethieves: "He that believeth not is already condemned," then the gracethieves answer: "We believe in Jesus, we are every day lying on the foot of Jesus' cross." Oh! so! You are lying on the foot of Jesus every day. If your consciences would become awakened you would see whose cross it is, on which foot you are lying.
But how can the gracethieves own these promises of grace, when they hate Jesus and his disciples? It happens in this way. The devil has reversed their eyes so that they consider the christians as false prophets and wild spirits who do not give peace of conscience to the gracethieves. The gracethieves are of same kind as the sorrowless people who followed Jesus and believed in him as far as he preached about grace. But when he said some sharper words, they rejected him and said: "This is a harsh speech, who can tolerate it?" And when a blind poor wretch began to shout: "Jesus, Son of David, be gracious unto me!" then the sorrowless people commanded him to be quiet.
Such are the gracethieves they can not tolerate that someone shouts with higher voice to Jesus. This shouting plagues the gracethieves, and however they say: "We have one Father even God, we be not born in fornication." But they had to own these Saviors words: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." Certainly it is now easy for the gracethieves to own these promises of grace, but who knows how easy it then will be to own grace when the conscience becomes awakened.
We say point-blank, if the gracethieves own these promises of grace before the conscience becomes awakened, before the right penitence takes place, before the devil and the world begin to accuse them, if - say I - the gracethieves begin to own these promises of grace before they have cried in the pain of conscience, then they own (these promises of grace) wrongly and they go to hell, how firm their faith ever would be.
Nicodemus and his brothers of faith own these promises of grace therefore that they have lived virtuously. Because the selfrighteusness is the foundation of their salvation, they think in this way: "The Son of God has not come to condemn but to save us." From which distress has He come to save you? Do you really have s spiritual distress? Has the enemy tormented you? In the same manner the gracethieves own these promises of grace and say: "The Son of God has not come to condemn but help us." From which distress has he come to help you? Do you really have a distress? Is the devil plaguing you? Do you have the pain of conscience? Do you have doubt and lack of faith? Do you have a fear of death and destruction?
Nothing such has yet been heard from the mouth of the gracethief, but only this is heard, that he has faith and love and good works. And such people need no Savior because neither the devil nor the world accuses them (saying) that they are false prophets and wild spirits. But the Christians, they are false prophets and wild spirits, a cursed crowd which neither the devil nor the world can torerate. With them the devil and the world has got angry. Without doubt the Savior has come to condemn them, but He has not come to condemn the sorrowless or the virtuous people, or the gracethieves.
Why did the Savior said to the Jews: "I do not condemn you but there is one that condemns you, namely Moses in whom you thrust." Moses has proclaimed God's law to all Jews and gracethieves. And the law of Moses shall condemn them because the sorrowless people and the gracethieves trample God's law under their feet. They believe and live in fornication. They believe and steal. They believe and drink. They believe and hate the Christians. And the devil himself forgives such people their sins and confirms their faith that they surely will be saved without penitence, without repentance, without trouble, without distress of heart. But once they will see for sure, in whom they have believed.
Third consideration: Can the penitent souls own these promises of grace: "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved. These promises of grace belong surely to the penitent souls, but they are not always able to own these promises of grace. It depends on the fact that the devil of selfrighteousness has got so terribly angry that he comes to accuse them that they have become locked out from God's grace. The devil of selfrighteousness condemns them and says: "The Son of God does not receive such who are so great sinners. They must have a pure heart whom the Son of God can give his grace. Such who have so evil heart and so much evil thoughts, lusts and desires, are not acceptable to the Son of God.
The devil of selfrighteousness wakes first other devils to tempt the penitent (souls), for example the devil of whoredom, the devil of wrath and the devil of covetousness, and then he comes himself as an angel of light to preach to the penitent (souls): "You are not better than the devil. The Son of God must condemn you." In this way the selfrighteousness preaches to the penitent (souls). And that is why they are not able to own these precious promises of grace: "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved."
That word "the world" is a peculiar word, which those who are of the world have easier to own than those who are not of the world. If the Savior had said to Nicodemus: "God sent not his Son to condemn the penitent and doubting souls, then the sorrowful and penitent souls would have had easier to own these promises of grace. But those who are of the world own this word "the world" and say: "The world is not condemned. Why has the Savior said to Nicodemus: "God sent not his Son to condemn the world?"
But the doubting (souls) can not by any means own this promise of grace, even if the world owns it. The unpenitent whores, the unpenitent thieves, the unpenitent liquor dealers, the unpenitent drunkards are certainly able to own these promises of grace. But the penitent, sorrowful and distressed souls are not always able to own these promises of grace, because the devil of selfrighteousness is so terrible to accuse and condemn the penitent souls that they sink into doubt, even if the whole Bible shows that by "the world" in this place is meant exactly such souls who are in sorrow, pain, trouble and hard distress, and do not see anything else but death, condemnation and the abyss in front of them. These promises of grace are thus written for them: "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved."
But immediately in the following verse is written the condemnation to the doubting souls: "He that believeth not is condemned already." Now the penitent and doubting souls surely feel this condemnation which belongs to the unbelieving ones. They feel their unhappy condition while they doubt about God's grace. They feel as if they were in hell, but however the devil of selfrighteousness presses them so powerfully that they sometimes cease with all hope, all trust, all striving, all crying and knocking on the door of grace. Some become quite strengthless according to body and soul.
But hear now, you doubting and into unbelief pressed souls. Jesus has said: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." You are now that world, for which sake he has given his only begotten Son. God sent not his Son to condemn the world. You doubting ones are the world which the Son of God has come to release from sin, death and the rule of the devil. You are the only souls in the world whom the Son of God can pardon and receive. You are the only souls in the world who feel your unhappiness, your distress, your nakedness. You are the only souls in the world, for whose sake the Son of God has come down from heaven. You are the prisoners of death whom the Son of God has come to redeem.
Receive now the Son of God, when he has come to give himself to you. He has been captured that you might be released from the chains of the death and the devil. He has given himself to death (so) that you might live. He has gone down into hell (so) that you might be released and go to heaven. Receive now the Son of God and do not plague him by your unbelief anymore. Do not make him sorry by your unbelief.
See, now the Son of God dies of sorrow if you do not come to him such as you are: naked, lame, like the devil. Do not let his blood shed in vain for your sake, but take heed of the blood of God's Lamb, you sorrowful, penitent, doubting and distressed souls, before the blood of his body runs out, before Josef and Nicodemus puts his dead body into the grave of the dead faith.
Follow his bloody footprints from the Garden to Golgotha, and stand near the cross and consider his pains untill you are allowed to feel in your hearts the power of his blood. Shout, you wretched ones: "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy upon us!" Shout, you blind, before Jesus Nazarene passes by, and believe that for your sake the Son of God has come into the world, and for your sake he has been in that great pain and tribulation. Believe that you are that world, which God has loved so much that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. You penitent souls, you sorrowful and doubting (souls), you are that world, which the Son of God has not come to condemn.
And you graced souls whom that great grace has happened, that you have been able to believe in Gods' only begotten Son. You hear and comprehend that the Son of God has not come into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world. You are also that world which the Son of God has come to release from sin, death and the rule of the devil. You are that world, which the Son of God can not condemn.
Pray for all doubting (souls) who sigh under the shadow of death, that all prisoners of unbelief would become free, that all unbelieving (souls) would begin to believe, that all sorrowful (souls) would become able to rejoice, that all naked wretches, who have begun to follow Jesus, would together with you come to the Fatherland.
We hope that God who has so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. We believe that he hears the sighs of the penitent, sorrowful and distressed (souls). We believe that they shall see God's Son glorified on Mt. Sion. They shall see the great Crossbearer and thorncrowned King in bloodred garments treading the winefat pressing red grapes in order to taste that sweet wine that is grovn in the Northland. And then the wedding of Lamb will be celebrated on Mt. Sion and the bridesmaids will dance on the pure floor of heaven and sing eternal and never ceasing song of thanksgiving and praise to God and the Lamb for the great and infinite love that he has loved us with. Amen.