Surprise! Certain Forgiveness of Sin For You!

“These invitations are universal; Christ addresses them to sinners, as such, and every man, as he believes God to be true, is bound to treat them as God’s words to him personally and to accept the universal assurance which accompanies them, that all who come to Christ will be received. Again, these invitations are real; Christ genuinely offers Himself to all who hear the gospel, and is in truth a perfect Saviour to all who trust Him.”*
Amen Brother Packer. Yes the Gospel is to be proclaimed as universal. He even uses the word universal! The problem happens where the excited believer attends Bible study then is directed to subject this scripture to his logic to understand all is not really all.
Is subjecting scripture to logic necessary? God the Father knows who is going to be in Christ.  Christ knows his believers and calls them by name. The Holy Spirit enlightens us and gives us the gift of faith in order that we may trust him. Given all that, why confuse the believer with chatty logic in order to answer questions not answered in scripture. It is good to remember we are adopted children of Our Heavenly Father.

I have raised 4 children and there were many why questions which remained unanswered questions. Not out of mean disposition but rather not letting them be burdened unnecessarily with adult reasoning.  I am sure I cannot remember some of my reasoning beyond it seemed best for them.

Now, to  contrast my actions as a father of young children to an Infinite, Sovereign and Incomprehensible Father. Would he be any less inclined not to answer all our questions to our full satisfaction? Does this desire for every question to have an answer that makes sense warrant the never ending examining and reasoning of how scripture agrees with us? Or can we suspend that and throw caution to the wind by telling people that in the name of  Jesus, and for the sake of his cross and resurrection, their sins are forgiven?

and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

(Luke 24:46-47 ESV)

Trust this good news and live in the peace it gives. Amen †

* From : Introductory Essay of  Death of Death by John Owen by J.I. Packer

Your Triune God’s Steadfast Love For You!

Roger Murtaugh: God hates me. That’s what it is.

Martin Riggs: Hate Him back; it works for me.

The quoted discussion  above is from the movie Lethal Weapon. That discussion demonstrates a natural, finite and fallen human reaction to things gone bad. This shows plainly the profound fear and antipathy we have toward our Lord. The better things go the more proof we have that God loves us. If things turn bad on us such as health, wealth, etc. this proves that God hates us.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:18-19 ESV)

In the first verse we see John is not talking about finite human love. The love of a human is imperfect at best. Man or woman will love only if there is something in it for them. For example, the person is physically attractive and is helpful in emotional well-being. This love can dissipate over time due to the aging process or getting to know the person and finding unattractive attributes. So the search may resume for that which is attractive. Therefore, of man’s love the following can be said:

The love of man comes into being through that which is pleasing to it.*

God’s love, on the other hand, is not self seeking. Our Lord is a giving Lord. Nothing we have is of ourselves but rather a gift from our loving Lord. No one is owed even being created so it is not based on works or even agreeing with him. If that were the case no one would come to know Jesus and that he died for their sins and resurrected for their justification. Of God’s love it can be said:

The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it.*

Only after one realizes that God’s love is for him or her, this searching out of  his attributes will change drastically. The suffering experienced in life will have us running to our Father for help in the times of need; scripture also becomes a wonderful nourishment rather than an accusing finger; and the Cross of Jesus is on our minds and in our hearts from the first of the day, through the day and when we go to sleep.

Trust this good news and live in its peace. Amen. †

* The Heidelberg Disputation of Martin Luther May 1518

Foolishness and Weakness For You! Part 2

baptism

“Baptism is a work we do to obey Christ.”

Baptism is a rite which places you as a member of a congregation.

These are common statements one will hear from many Christians from traditions who doubt the full teaching of baptism. It does seem foolish that God would use a weak thing like a splash of water to do much of anything. To maintain that position I had to deal with several passages of scripture that state otherwise.

he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

(Titus 3:5-7 ESV)

One of the first misconceptions about baptism is whose work is it? If it were merely the work of man than indeed it would have little or no change in a person’s life. The first phrase indicates to us the following activity saves us by Our Lord’s promise. This promise is carried out by the use of a person to apply water and invoke the name of God.

It is then that we realize this is not a work done by us in righteousness but it is God pouring out of the Holy Spirit. This is understood because Jesus said to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And just as the words spoken by him created all that we see and do not see we can trust this promise as well.

This gift justifies us by his grace and we receive this justification through faith. This is the way we receive the gift of the forgiveness of sin by the Gospel being preached into our ears. It is another means that the Spirit uses to deliver the fruit of the cross to us.

Trust this wonderful promise of the good news delivered and live in its peace Amen †

Jesus Sowing His Words For You!

People approach the word of God in one of two ways. Either they have a belief and look to validate it or get their beliefs from study. The former use is the natural use. We all want to think our ideas are original or we like what we hear so that is accepted at face value. The latter, scripture as primary source, takes much more effort. It requires one to place beliefs under the microscope for objective evaluation.

The following passage is presented by several different groups as an explanation on why some are saved and others lost.

“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

 

(Mark 4:3-9 ESV)

Okay. This looks like a reasonable use of the text:  When one sows seed the receiving ground must be prepared ahead of time. The type of seed spoken of here would be the type that produces grain such as wheat. The seeds are very small and scattered as opposed to put into holes or troughs in the soil. The ground that is well prepared ahead of time is the one to produce the fruit.

Some will say the people mentioned in most groups did not prepare themselves for the message. Others will say a preacher did not soften them up with the law enough. Still others say the sower did not care about those people who are not receiving and producing.

Is this what Jesus was teaching? Was he really trying to explain why some are not saved?

The sower sows the word.

 

(Mark 4:14 ESV)

Just like all the parables, Jesus is the subject. Jesus is the sower spreading his words into people’s ears for their salvation. Those who will not listen — men and women who will obstinately refuse the free gift of salvation in favor of saving themselves, atheists who convince themselves no God exists, and people who are scandalized about a Creator who will actually die for his enemies — will spurn Jesus’ cross.

Travel the more difficult path to understanding scripture which is so straight a child can grasp it. It is incredible the good news of Jesus would prompt us to ask questions of morbid curiosity rather than praise Our Lord for his powerful words.

Trust these words and live in the peace they perform. Amen.

In The Gifts of Endless Mercy and Faithfulness For You!

There are two things are bad with chronic illness. The first is, you do not feel good. I’ve often thought that if one felt better, illness would not be so bad. That sounds silly, but back in the good, old days illness would happen and then in a short time I would feel better. This made colds, the flu, etc., not so bad. With chronic illness one either feels bad or worse.

The second is having to spend lots of time talking with doctors. Don’t get me wrong, personally I like my health care providers. I am blessed with brothers and sisters in Christ that attend to my health. What a wonderful gift from our Lord. But they never have good news. We hear none of this, “Take this medicine for a period of time and your symptoms will end.”

Living with a constant barrage of bad news tends to wear on a person. This can cause both sleepless nights and dreams which are most troubling. If not for the wonderful gift of God’s word one could easily despair of life.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

 

One would not think to find such wonderful comfort in a book that has the label of lament. Reading this book one will see woe, despair and judgment. These are brought about by Our Lord to his people. It seems counter-intuitive to go to this same Lord for comfort and mercy.  However, that is the reason for the Lord to chasten us. To drive us to him and away from ourselves and others we think can help.

 There are times when I read scripture and it seems as if this is new stuff.  It seems through the changing themes in life the mercy we have as a gift is brand new.  This is fantastic rather than disheartening. The Holy Spirit is in the word, creating faith, leading in righteousness and comforting beleaguered souls.  Jesus promised this gift before he ascended to the Father.

Times of trouble and affliction? These gifts are yours in Jesus Christ. Trust and live in the peace scripture gives. Amen. †

Foolishness and Weakness For You!

Two things that are admired and idolized in our culture are strength and to have something make sense. When something does not make sense it is thought to be merely foolish and of no lasting good. If something appears weak it is despised and rejected out of hand for the same reason.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

(1 Corinthians 1:27 ESV)

God indeed demonstrates his strength by holding all creation together only by his desire to hold it together. He has mercy on all people by curbing our impulses to consume each other. He also limits the calamity that can befall us from our surrounding environment and even our own bodies due to disease.

The greatest example of God’s strength comes in the crucifixion of our Lord. This is done in weakness in order to supply eternal life to all. But this appears to be weakness to the eyes of unbelief that need and admire strength. The Creator of heaven and earth is a victim of a huge injustice on the cross. This is foolish to the wise one. It is foolish to think the crucifixion of one man has anything to do with forgiveness of sin. Only faith can see Jesus was there strongly and wisely carrying the burden of the sin of all.

Jesus has instituted what appears to be weak and foolish  means of grace to deliver the fruit of his cross to the sinner:  A man proclaiming the guilt we all share for falling short of the glory of God, then proclaiming forgiveness in the name of Jesus saves us.

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

(Luke 24:45-47 ESV)

The weakness of having the words of Jesus flowing into our ears, and that those words will save us seems ridiculous to those outside of Christ.  There is nothing flashy like bright lights and lots of noise, only the loving words from Jesus that our sins are forgiven for his sake.

This belief  has fallen on hard times in the Church.  Proclamation of the Gospel has been replaced by hints for happy living. Sermons now include a whole list of things that have nothing to do with salvation. Suggestions on how to go out there and become successful at all sorts of endeavors. All things from financial well-being to  information on how to win a debate with other believers is touted as a Gospel. The Gospel is also said to include an ever increasing holiness in life. Yes, a believing  one in Jesus will seek to live holy. Financial success is desirable. These things, although admirable from human points of view, will not save.

Only the preaching of our guilt before God for what we have done and left undone will lead to repentance and the forgiveness of sin. Due to our falling short of the glory of Christ we live in constant need of repentance and the forgiveness of sin. This is provided to us by the cross of Jesus and delivered to us through the proclamation of the Gospel.

Love this good news and live in its peace. Amen †

At One Ment For you!

While in conversation about Limited Atonement with a friend who is a Calvinist, he said he had a verse which would end the teaching of Jesus dying for all of humanity. I asked him to give me the verse which would end that teaching:

Revelation 5:9-10

 And they sang a new song, saying, 

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God FROM every tribe and language and people and nation,  and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
 ESV

I capitalized the word from to indicate what he emphasized when reading that verse. What we see here is a scene from heaven after the resurrection of the dead. This is where the church catholic is gathered from all time and all nations. Yes indeed those were ransomed from every tribe, language, people and nations. What it clearly does not say is that those who are in attendance were the only ones died for. Those who refuse to trust in Jesus’ perfect life, death, burial and resurrection do not receive these gifts. That in no way indicates that those gifts are not theirs or that God in no way wanted them to have eternal life.

This is a sadness. Due to his or her own stubborn refusal to believe in Jesus, that instead of eternal life, the unbelievers are entering into eternal death. Many believers that I have talked to have loved ones and friends who are great folks but have a steadfast refusal to trust in Jesus. What these dear ones are trusting is in his or her own goodness. That if there is a god in their thoughts it is a false god who will weigh the good against the bad and all will be swell. Still others have children who were raised in the faith but have rejected it for various reasons. This can cause hours of tears in concern and prayer for these children’s eternal salvation.

One thing the L does for some of my reformed is to give them an out.  A fiction which they can tell themselves so that the sadness, for the unbelieving, can be kept at bay. Others eventually will commence blaming God for the lost condition of their family or friends. “Why did you let my unbelieving  son or  daughter be born? Didn’t you have enough kindling for hell?”

This is similar to the charge Adam had against God for the woman God gave him. Eve had the similar charge against God for the serpent God placed in the garden. Interesting to note, in the record of that exchange the serpent did not pass the blame along to anyone else. He seemed pretty cool with all of it.

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” ESV

God does not explain in his holy word, apart from unbelief, why even though Jesus died for all sinners why some are saved and others lost. Father is merciful to his children so we can go ahead and pray boldly and cry for our lost family and friends. Jesus did not die in order to send people to hell. We pray he will grant all true repentance and faith in Jesus.

Trust this good news and live in the peace that it gives.

In the name of Jesus. Amen. †

Jesus as a bankrupt land owner for you!

w-110918-laborers_late_to_vineyard_25_sun_ord_time

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 by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith

The statement above, from the small catechism of Martin Luther, refers to the third article of the Apostles creed. This speaks of the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit in calling us to Jesus, gives us the faith to trust in Jesus, makes us holy in the sight of God and keeps us in the faith.

How is it that one can hear the story of Jesus crucified for sinners and still not believe? People are inclined to trust things that are reasonable. The parables testify of  Our Lord Christ. Let us see how he presents himself to us;

And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’
(Matthew 20:8-12 ESV)

This is clearly not instruction for the Christian businessman! To run a business in such a manner would spell disaster. After those who worked the entire day observed those who worked one hour yet received the same pay no one would show up until late the next day. The work would never get done.

Salvation in Jesus does not at all depend upon our efforts or how long we have been living in trust on Jesus alone. A person born and raised in the faith has no larger claim than the thief on the cross. Each have the full forgiveness won for the world by the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

Trust this good news and live in its peace. Amen †

Jesus as a suffering father for you!

prodigal son

Due to our fallen human nature we are in total hatred of the true and living God. When examining the world’s religions we see each one is based on a common sense view of a god, if they have one at all.

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

(Luke 15:20 ESV)

The above line is taken from the parable Jesus taught the “Prodigal son.” The story goes that one of a man’s two sons told him to give him his share of the inheritance. In effect he wanted the father to drop dead for an inheritance only happens after one has died.

Letting the son have this inheritance is not good advice for raising children. It is actually a ridiculous and unreasonable story that speaks to our Lord’s love for the sinner. In that society a request of that nature would possibly had the brat stoned to death. The father was a well-to-do land owner and would be expected to abide by the law of the land. In our society we do not stone our brat children but can disinherit them legally in response to such a display of hatred and contempt.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.’”
(Luke 15:17-19 ESV)

Now we have the lad starting to use his brain. However, this is still showing contempt for his father. He is returning home to become a well paid and cared for servant. Even in his statement to the father one can see the manipulation he is planning on using.

This parable is an earthly story with an earthly meaning. This shows how Jesus goes about doing his Lord and Savior job. In return for the contempt we show him by sinning against him he greets us with grace and the forgiveness of sin. This is not the type of God we actually want. It is an insult to us who would never expect that treatment from anyone on this earth. This is shown by the attitude of the other brother.

Jesus took our sinful contempt for him to the cross, had it nailed to the cross with him and we are no longer held accountable for that sin. We continue, no matter how hard we try, to show contempt for God by our sin. If we notice avoiding an actual sin we are filled with pride at how we have improved or how much better we are than others. Through trusting in this strong promise we have been justified through that trusting. No works are necessary from us to have this justification.

Trust this good news and live in its peace. Amen †

Justification For You!

Empty-Tomb

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

Such is the greeting in many congregations on Easter Sunday. This could be the greeting every Sunday thereafter since the gathering of the justified is possible through the resurrection of Jesus.

who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (Romans 4:25 ESV)

This act of rising from the dead Jesus proclaimed his conquering of death for us. That through faith we receive this gift.  This empty tomb is really good news for the Christian since we are living in the valley of the shadow of death.

Christ, as a Good Shepherd, has preceded us into the grave and resurrected to show his justified ones what awaits them. When resurrected there will be a time of judgement.  We need not fear that judgement, for our Saviour will say;

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
(Matthew 25:34 ESV)

Trust this good news and live in its peace. Amen! †