Category Archives: Gate of Heaven

Pentecost (2016)


May 15, 2016 AD

Old Testament: Genesis 11:1-9

Epistle: Acts 2:1-21

Gospel: John 14:23-31

Click here to listen and subscribe to Pastor McClean’s sermons on iTunes.

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father, and from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

The text for my sermon this Pentecost is from the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians, the third verse:

“I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says, ‘Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.”

On this fiftieth day following our Lord’s resurrection from the dead, we Christians throughout the world celebrate with great joy the coming of God the Holy Spirit who works in our hearts the miracle of faith.

On Good Friday the work of our salvation was accomplished, and that is clear from Jesus’ cry of victory from the cross: “It is finished!” What was finished? The victory of love. For when all His enemies, visible and invisible, attacked Jesus, love remained love: “Father, forgive,” Jesus prays and goes on loving to the end. And because He did, all our lack of love— for God and for others— our sin is atoned for and so the sins of the world are forgiven.

On Good Friday that wonderful victory was accomplished. On Easter Day the victory was revealed in the Jesus’ glorious resurrection from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection is God the Father’s declaration that the sins of the world are forgiven and death itself is dead. And now on this fiftieth day after Easter, this Day of Pentecost— Pentecost means fiftieth— Christ’s victory was openly proclaimed. On Good Friday the victory was accomplished, on Easter the victory was revealed, now on Pentecost the victory was proclaimed, and no less than three thousand souls were brought to faith through Peter’s and the other disciples’ proclamation of our Jesus’ saving death and resurrection. And so it will continue until the end of time, when the risen and ascended Lord at last appears in glory and brings to completion that work of redeeming love begun in the manger, fulfilled on the cross, revealed at the open tomb. You and I are Christians today, believers, because the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and continues to come through the preaching of Jesus, through the holy Sacraments, always pointing to Jesus, Our Savior.

In his First Letter to the Church at Corinth, Saint Paul writes: “I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says, ‘Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord!’ except by the Holy Spirit.” To say “Jesus is Lord” is to confess that I myself am not Lord: I am not my own Maker and most certainly not my own Savior, but rather an utterly dependent creature, and therefore not myself the judge of good and evil, truth and error, right and wrong; I am but a mortal sinner. But that is not the whole story, and if it were, how sad a story it would be. But when I say, “Jesus is Lord,” I am saying that the Father who created me out of love sent His Son to redeem me out of love and so has become my Lord through love. No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit, and that is the miracle of faith.

How beautifully Dr. Luther expresses that in his explanation to the Third Article of Creed:

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him, but the Holy Ghost has called me through the Gospel…

…the Gospel which is the good news of Jesus. The Holy Spirit points not to Himself but always to Jesus, just as Jesus said in the upper room on the night before He died for us: “When the Comforter comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth…He will bear witness to me…”

“I believe that I cannot…believe…but the Holy Spirit has called me.” And this is the miracle of faith. It was John Wesley who once said: “The change accomplished by the Holy Spirit in the heart is no less than all outward miracles as showing the same power which gave sight to the blind, feet to the lame, and life to the dead.” That is the miracle of faith! And our whole faith as Christians is miracle from beginning to end. It is all miracle— the miracle of our Savior’s birth from one both virgin and mother, the miracle of His atoning death, the miracle of His resurrection and ascension, and the still-awaited miracle of His coming again in glory. It is all miracle, the miracle of God, and the greatest of all miracles is this: that I a poor sinner can say, “Jesus loved me and gave himself for me.”

And so if you are able to say “Jesus is Lord,” this is the work of the Holy Spirit in you, the miracle of faith, wrought by the Holy Spirit in every penitent heart.

And that is why beginning on the first Pentecost and continuing to the end of the world, the Church which was born on this day, has continued to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins to the whole world. Saint Peter did that very thing on the first Pentecost when he convicted of sin that whole crowd gathered in Jerusalem, so that hearing his word, they could only cry out, “Brothers what shall we do?” And what was Peter’s answer? “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” In your baptism you received the gift of the Spirit who continues to create and sustain faith in your heart by the simple word of preaching, through the word of Pardon, and through the gift of the Savior’s mysteriously yet truly present body and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.

And so it will continue until the end which is not end but the beginning of new and eternal life. The Holy Spirit who came this day as wind and flame continues to work the miracle of faith in the hearts of sinners like you and me so that like the first disciples and the 3000 converted on this day, we may with eyes of faith see our glorious risen Lord, hear His word of perfect peace, and be glad. And to Him be glory and honor now and forever. Amen.

And the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. +Amen.

Exaudi (2016)


May 8, 2016 AD

Old Testament: Ezekiel 36:22-28

Epistle: 1 Peter 4:7-14

Gospel: John 15:26-16:4
Click here to listen and subscribe to Pastor McClean’s sermons on iTunes.

Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

From the fourth chapter of the first letter of St. Peter, the seventh verse:

The end of all things is at hand.

This Sunday, between last Thursday’s feast of the Ascension of our Lord and next Sunday’s feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, is a kind of “in-between” day in the Christian year. In fact, our whole life as Christians is an “in-between” kind of thing.

It’s a truth so obvious that you might well wonder why a preacher would even bother to mention it. And the truth is this: Earth is not Heaven— although on a perfect spring day earth does come close to suggesting something of that final splendor foreseen and promised in Jesus’ glorious resurrection.

But earth is not heaven. And it is a snare and delusion to imagine that this world will grow better and better until the human race finally succeeds in establishing God’s perfect kingdom here on earth. The Christian worldview is opposed to this kind of naive optimism, this myth of progress, which rests on failure to take seriously just about everything our Lord teaches us in His Word. Christ teaches us that human beings— even Christian human beings— will always remain sinful human beings who as long as we live in this world will have to keep on praying as we do in the prayer Christ Himself taught us, “Forgive us our trespasses,” and will have to go on repenting until our last breath. And since this is so, it’s a terrible delusion to suppose that we will ever be able to create some kind of Golden Age in the world’s history, let alone the perfected kingdom of God! Surely history itself should at least have taught us this much: that every attempt to create some kind of heaven on earth has in fact created a veritable hell on earth. Think of the French Revolution. Think of the so-called “workers’ paradise” of the Soviet Union, China, and other countries controlled by Marxist-Leninist thought.

To be sure, we Christians are called to be a light of hope and joy shining in all earth’s darkness, a leaven of goodness in a cruel and selfish world. In Christ’s Sermon on the Mount He uses the image of Christians as the “salt of the earth” because of salt’s preservative powers. So if we Christians are truly faithful to our calling as Jesus’ disciples, then we can like salt preserve the world from utter rottenness. All of this is blessedly true— and yet! And yet any progress is slow and often painful and any improvement thoroughly provisional— for the time being— always at the mercy of the native sinfulness of all human beings, together with the evil purpose of Satan and his evil minions who never rests in his efforts to subvert everything that is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, worthy of praise.

But our Lord Jesus Christ has offered the perfect sacrifice for all sin, no matter how dark, no matter how terrible. He has conquered death and the grave and has ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us. Jesus’ glorious ascension into heaven, which took place the 40th day after His resurrection and which we therefore celebrated this past Thursday, is a most necessary reminder that, as Saint Paul writes to the Christians at Philippi, “Our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power which enables Him to subject all things unto Himself.”

Our citizenship is in heaven. This earth is not heaven and we Christians therefore remain “strangers and pilgrims” in this present world, people on a journey, a journey through this present life to the heavenly fatherland. Yes, people on a journey. And when we’re on a journey we realize— don’t we?— that everything is only “for the time being”, nothing permanent. And isn’t this a wonderful picture of what it means to live Christianly, as strangers and pilgrims in this world, as citizens of heaven, our true home? Taking pleasure in everything that is interesting and beautiful and amusing. We can relish all the good gifts a truly loving heavenly Father sends into our lives. And we realize that whatever difficulty we meet along the way is only for the time being, it isn’t going to last forever. And so we are on a journey, and we await for journey’s end.

On this Sunday after Ascension Day we remember how at our Lord’s ascension two angels appeared to the disciples and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing into heaven? This same Jesus which was taken up from you into heaven shall come in the same way as you have seen Him go into heaven.” Shall come on that Last and Great Day when the risen and ascended Lord will appear in glory and make all things new. And who in the meantime— all unseen— rules all things for the eternal good of His believing children.

There is also this. During the ten days after Jesus’ ascension the disciples were gathered together in prayer, waiting for the promised coming of the Holy Spirit which took place on that fiftieth day after Jesus’ resurrection, the day of Pentecost. Jesus gave you and gave me the Holy Spirit in our baptism, the Holy Spirit who continually comforts and strengthens us in our journey, the Holy Spirit who brings Christ to us and us to Christ, and whose coming on the Day of Pentecost we shall next Sunday celebrate with great joy.

Yes, this earth is not heaven. But the risen and ascended Lord Jesus will according to His sure promise come again and usher in a kingdom of light and joy that will have no end. Let us therefore pray for the grace to live in true repentance and in true faith in his atoning death that we may without fear behold Him when He shall come to be our Judge and so rejoice to behold His appearing. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly! Amen.

And the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. +Amen.

Conference Audio – Opening Remarks and the Wyneken Project

Opening Remarks – Pr. Charles McClean

The Small Church: How to Build and Furnish It (with some account of the improvement of existing buildings), by F. R. Webber

The Wyneken Project – Pr. Elliott Robertson

“Why Wyneken? Why Baltimore?” |

Click here to access all conference audio from the Our Saviour podcast feed on iTunes.

Conference Audio – Panel Discussion

Left to right: Pr. Eric Andrae, Pr. Roy Coats, Pr. David Petersen, Dr. Leo Mackay

Discussion topics:

Bishop Bo Giertz – Intra-Lutheran ecumenism and reunification – Contemporary worship – ACNA/LCMS talks, Anglicanism, etc. – Lutheran substance and identity – Preaching Law and Gospel – The preacher’s intention and the uses of the Law – Catechesis and liturgy – Modernism/Postmodernism and language – Divorce of style and substance…

…and much else, besides!

Click here to access all conference audio from
the Our Saviour podcast feed on iTunes.