Many people have been tempted to wonder how good they are at being “Christian.” Do they pass muster? Are they “good enough?” Did anyone witness it when I ____________ (Fill in the blank)? Will God accept my feeble efforts and vain attempts at being good and doing good? Or will He extract more than a pound of flesh when He brings me to that punishment place?
Martin Luther had many such questions concerning himself. He struggled with his humanity, his sinfulness, and his understanding of what he should have been but wasn’t. Every biography I have read of this man speaks of the struggle Luther had with his own humanity, his sinfulness, and his great and desperate desire for forgiveness and assurance of salvation. In his desperate search for freedom from torment, he gave up the study of law, became a monk and then a priest, made pilgrimages, and even abused his body. Nothing helped until he became better acquainted with St. Paul’s writing. In these divinely inspired writing Luther finally came face to face with his savior Jesus Christ and the Good News that there was forgiveness even for sinners like himself.
This is what our reading from Romans is all about! Not Luther, nor Paul – but Jesus Christ and the cross-bought salvation His offers all who will believe on Him! We read:
“The righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”
This is not boasting – only faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and His cross-bought salvation.
Posted on October 28, 2018 5:42 AM
A young woman had just lost her unborn child. She was devastated because she so badly wanted to be a mother who could love and cherish her child; but her arms were empty and her crib barren. There would be no joy in that young mother-to-be, only despair. And I, as her pastor, didn’t know what to tell her. I still wonder about that occasion because I still lack in wisdom and understanding when it comes to things like sin and death and God punishing sinners. Some things I don’t wonder about, though, things like God’s mercy and grace, His will for sinners and saints, His ability and willingness to save sinners. The writer to the Hebrews said it well:
“The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
Jesus Christ is that Word of God. He came into this world to seek and to save sinners. He came to offer His life as God’s ransom for sinners; and Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves. It is in Christ Jesus that I find solace when I am dismayed or frightened or thunder-struck. It is in the knowledge that Jesus came to seek and save sinners like me that I will stand before Him on the Judgement Day knowing that He came to save me and all sinners. We can all take great comfort in knowing that “No creature is hidden from his sight….” That is certain!
Posted on October 21, 2018 5:15 AM
These are words to the wise – but they are so often ignored or forgotten. Parents have said these words to college bound children; friends have told their friends the same. Yet we know that all too often people don’t “take care.” Instead they act on impulse or emotion. In a moment of “road rage” an otherwise prudent and good driver will swerve around a vehicle and smash into someone else. An athlete may hold nothing back an incur a career ending injury. A friend will utter an impatient and unloving word to another friend and forfeit that friendship forever. Nowhere is this human penchant more devastating than in a person’s relationship with God.
The children of Israel are a case in point. God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt. He had fed them and provided them with water in the desert. God brought them through the Red Sea and showed them a rich land flowing with milk and honey. But they complained against God and the leaders He provided. They crafted idols made of gold. They sinned. And for forty years they wandered in the wilderness, where a whole generation died.
Our God says the same to us today. We have been blessed with a rich and free land. Our nation has wealth and freedoms which are the envy of the world! Yet babes are untimely ripped from their mothers’ wombs through abortion, the ill and elderly are being killed, and greed for more “stuff” is the driving force behind many activities. To all these things and more our God is telling us, “Take care!”
And when we don’t – when we do act in selfishness and pride and greed and stupidity – when we sin in thought, word or deed – look to the now barren cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Look into His now empty tomb. Gaze into the barren sky and remember! Remember that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." And take care in and through Jesus Christ!
Posted on October 14, 2018 6:55 PM