Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!


Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Purple - Lent Mid-week 6 - March 28, 2012 - Text: Mark 15:16-20; John 19:1-5

This evening we continue looking at the symbols of Lent and Easter by looking at the symbolism of the color purple. As you can see from the paraments displayed on the altar, the pulpit and the lectern, the color associated with Lent is the color purple. Often we are reminded that the color purple is the color of passion, of penitence and repentance and so Lent is a time of repentance. Lent is the time we take the time to consider our sin and our part in Jesus having to suffer and die on the cross, our part in putting Jesus on the cross.

Purple is also the color of royalty. So, not only does purple remind us of the suffering and death of Jesus for us, but it also reminds us of the fact that Jesus is our King of Kings. Jesus is true God. He was with the Father and the Holy Spirit at the creation of the world. Before His incarnation, He was in heaven as true God enjoying all His glory.

And yet, because of His great love for us, because of our sin and need for a Savior, because He created us to love us, He gave up the glory that was His in heaven in order to take on human flesh and blood. He who is God, took on human flesh in order to become one of His own creation. Jesus had to be truly God in order to be conceived and born in perfection. He had to be perfect, owning nothing in order to be able to pay the price for our sins, what we owe, our lives. And He had to be truly human in order to be our substitute, that is in order to trade His life for ours. Trading like things for like things.

Jesus, true God, gave up the glory that was His in heaven and was born as a human being, we speak of this as the incarnation, the coming in carnal, in flesh of God, in the person, the human person of Jesus. About a year or a year and a half following Jesus’ birth, while they were in a house in Bethlehem, Jesus, Mary and Joseph were visited by the Magi or wise men from the east. We are told they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Each of these gifts remind us that Jesus is our prophet, priest and king.

The gift of incense is the gift for a priest. The priest is the one who would burn the sweet smelling incense in the temple. The priest was also the one who would offer sacrifices for and on behalf of the people. And as our Great High Priest we know that Jesus offered Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for us on the cross for us, His people. His sacrifice is still ours today.

The gift of myrrh, which is an oil especially used for the purpose of anointing, was the gift for a prophet. Jesus was and is a prophet. He was a prophet, as true God, speaking of the things that would happen, the things which He came to fulfill. Jesus was a prophet in that He was also one to proclaim the message of salvation. Even today Jesus continues to be our prophet as He continues to speak to us through His Holy Word.

The gift of gold is the gift for a King, for Royalty. Jesus is truly our Lord of Lord and King of Kings. The Magi recognized Jesus as truly a King. Jesus was born of the kingly line of David. But more than simply being an earthly king, Jesus is our heavenly King. After His ascension Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father from where He sends the Holy Spirit to work in and through us and from where He rules over us and intercedes for us.

While Jesus is our King of Kings, again, the purple reminds us of Jesus’ passion especially His passion as our Great High Priest. Jesus was conceived and born without sin. Jesus lived a perfect life, never sinning. Even through all the temptations of Satan himself, Jesus never sinned, not even once. Jesus obeyed all of God’s laws and commands perfectly, all the civil laws, all the moral laws, all the ceremonial laws. Jesus fulfilled all the promises and prophecies concerning the Messiah, perfectly. Every prophecy about the coming Messiah, every promise spoken in and since the Garden of Eden, Jesus fulfilled perfectly and completely. And then, of His own free will He took our sins, your sins and my sins and the sins of all people, of all places, of all times upon Himself. He who was without sin, He who knew no sin became sin for us, in our place.

Jesus took our sins and then He suffered for our sins. Jesus suffered rejection, beating, mocking, being spit upon, and ultimately being put to death, suffering the most horrendous, the most humiliating, the worst and cruelest death, death on the cross where He was hung to die, literally hung to suffocate to death before the world. And as we made note last week, He died in all His nakedness and shame, in all our shame.

Jesus suffered in order to pay the price for sin, the price which was set in the Garden of Eden, the price of physical death and apart from Jesus and faith in Him, the price of eternal spiritual death. So, when Jesus died it was not simply a physical death that He died, but it was an eternal spiritual death, a death in hell that He died. And He died, not for nothing but for us, for you and for me, for our sin.

What does this mean? Lent is a time to remember. As we look at the symbols of Lent we are reminded of those things of which we should remember. This evening we look at the color purple and we remember. We remember Jesus royalty, that He was and is King of Kings and Lord of Lord, yet, while on this earth He did not rule in royalty because that was not His purpose for being in this world. Rather He came to take our sins and to suffer and die for us.

The purple reminds us of royalty and the fact that along with being truly human, Jesus is truly God. So, in answer to those who struggle with the fact that Jesus is God and Jesus died, yes, God died. John is quite adamant in his Revelation when He is speaking about Jesus being the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last as he says, “17When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Rev. 1:17-18). God, the alpha and omega, the first and the last was alive, the living one who died, in the person of Jesus, God died. And just as when we die, so our soul will separate from our bodies, so it was with Jesus, even as true God, He died and His soul separated from His body, yet we know that He also rose again. Death and the grave had no power over Him and by faith in Him they have no power over us as well.

The purple reminds us of God’s great love for us, so much that as our God He died for us. Greater love can noone have than this that one would lay down his life for another. Our God, our Creator God, our Redeemer God, our God who created us to love us showed His great love in the fact that He gave His life to redeem us, to buy us back from our sins.

So, the purple of lent also reminds us that the season of Lent is a time to confess. We are to take the time to look at ourselves, at our own lives, at our sin filled lives and recognize our part in putting Jesus on the cross. Yes, it was because of my sin and your sin, our sin that Jesus came to die on the cross. And the great thing about it is that even if we were the only person in the world, Jesus still would have died for us.

Ultimately, then, lent is a time to be loved and to be given to. God’s command is that we are perfect. Obviously we cannot meet that demand and so we run to and cling to Jesus who was perfect for us. When Jesus came He came for us, as our substitute, to be perfect for us in our place. So, now, by faith in Jesus, He has taken our sins upon Himself and we are given His forgiveness, His robes of righteousness, His life, eternal life and salvation.

Purple, the color of royalty. Purple the color of repentance. Purple the color of passion. Purple the color of Lent. Purple the color that reminds us of God’s great love for us and His continued love, care and concern for us. May the purple of lent continue to remind you of God’s great love so that you might rejoice and say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Dice - Lent Mid-week 5 - March 21, 2012 - Texts: Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:24

This evening we continue to talk about the symbols of Lent and Easter. This evening we take up the topic of the dice used to divide Jesus garments at the foot of the cross. Let me begin by saying that different translations use a different word for the dice. Some say that lots were cast and others that dice were cast. Either way, the fact remains that the soldiers divided Jesus’ garments and that is the main point of the dice.

Before we talk about the dice, we should go back and think about the context and the background of these events. First, just like us, like you and me, Jesus was born with nothing. We may joke about our “birthday suit,” but the fact remains, we are born with nothing and we will leave this world with nothing. Having said that, one astute confirmand once suggested that we are born with sin, which is also correct, but I would say that is not something we would want to boast about. Now, the fact that we are born with nothing and we will leave this world with nothing could make for a great sermon on stewardship, that everything we have in this world is not really ours, but is on loan to us from God, but relax, that is not our emphasis this evening.

What Jesus “owned,” if you will, while on this earth was the clothes on His back. Now, we remember that Jesus is God, true God and so He, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit created the world out of nothing, so really, everything is Jesus anyway. But from a truly human stand point, while living in this world, on this earth, Jesus owned nothing. And having mentioned that we are born in sin, actually we are conceived and born in sin, Jesus was not conceived and born in sin. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit making Him truly God and conceived and born perfect and holy.

Interestingly enough, even though Jesus owned nothing, you may have noticed that He never concerned Himself about His physical needs. Certainly Jesus lived His life as He preached, that is that God takes care of His world and His people, including the birds of the air, the grass in the field, and us. So, even though Jesus owned nothing, except the clothes on His back and even though He owned no place to live, He was not concerned about His physical needs, because His physical needs were tended to by those He taught and discipled. Their response of faith was to care for their teacher.

So, what is it about the dice and the dividing of the clothes? First there is the implicate meaning of the dividing of these clothes, that is the very fact that Jesus’ clothes were divide among the soldiers. We are not told how many soldiers there were, nor how many pieces of clothes Jesus was wearing, simply that they divided His clothes, all except one piece of clothing.

The one piece of clothing that was not divided was the main wrap which Jesus wore. It was one large piece of material which is best owned as a whole not divide. This one main wrap was too valuable to tear apart and divide, so rather than tear it apart and divide it, it was decided to let “chance” decide who would get it. So, either translation works well, that of lots being cast or drawn or dice being cast to see who would own the large cloth, the whole undivided large piece of cloth.

So, Jesus’ clothes were divided which means that Jesus was left, as uncomfortable for us as it may be, to die naked on the cross. Jesus was left in all His shame, or rather in all our shame, having taken our sins upon Himself. Now I know that we never see a crucifix with Jesus naked on the cross, mostly because we cannot handle this fact. But the fact remains, the punishment of crucifixion was intended to be the most cruel and shameful form of punishment and so as we see Jesus’ clothes being divvied up we know that He was put to death in all His shame with our sins and all our shame.

Just as He came into this world, so Jesus was dying and leaving this world with nothing. You might remember that in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ disciples deserted Him. While He was on the cross He remembered His mother and gave her to John to care for her. Later Jesus cries out as God the Father forsakes Him. And now here He is friendless, motherless and fatherless and in our shame we turn our heads and leave Him as well, not wanting to look on Him.

Jesus, He who was born and lived in perfection, never sinning, not even once, freely and actively took our sins upon Himself. He who knew no sin became sin for us. He was slapped. He was beaten. He was mocked. He was spit upon. And now He has been stripped naked and nailed to a cross, the worst form of punishment. He was innocent, yet He took our sins and suffered for them, for us, in our place.

Jesus was leaving this world as He had entered, with nothing. The only difference is that He entered in perfection and now He was dying in our sins.

What does this mean? Please understand that these men were not gambling. Gambling is putting up something you have against something someone else has in order to take from them something they really do not want to give to you, just as you really do not want to give what you are putting up to lose. These men were simply dividing property that was not theirs and their means for dividing the property was a means of chance, casting lots or dice, or perhaps drawing straws.

Greater love can noone have than this, that one would lay down his life for another and that is what we are seeing this evening, no greater love than the love Jesus has for us, for each and everyone of us. Jesus loves us so much. Jesus loves you so much. Jesus created us to love us. Jesus shows His love for us. Jesus, true God, gave up the glory that was His in heaven, in order to be born unto this world, except that unlike us who are conceived and born in sin, He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and thus was born in perfection. Jesus lived a perfect life, obeying all of God’s laws and commands perfectly, including His command to be perfect. Jesus lived perfectly for us in our place as our substitute, because we cannot live in such a way. Jesus fulfilled all of God’s promises and prophecies perfectly. And then He took our sins and the sins of all people, of all places, of all times upon Himself and suffered for all sin. He suffered physical punishment and most importantly He suffered the eternal spiritual death penalty of hell for us in our place.

Jesus suffered and died in all humility, in all shame, naked and alone on the cross. Crucifixion was the worst form of punishment and was intended for the worst criminals as a punishment and as a warning against others so that they would not commit the same crime. Crucifixion was capital punishment and the worst form. There was nothing humane about it.

Again, Jesus was leaving this world as He had entered, with nothing. The only difference is that He entered in perfection and now He was dying in our sins. And because of Jesus, this order is the opposite of each one of us who are conceived and born in sin, and by faith in Jesus we leave this world in perfection, His perfection.

Jesus suffered and died for all. But we know the whole story, we know the rest of the story, death and the grave had no hold over Him. On the third day Jesus rose from the dead, victorious over sin, death and the power of the devil. He rose and showed Himself to be alive. After showing Himself to be alive for forty days He ascended, returning to the place from which He had descended, returning to the glory that was His.

As we see the dice we are reminded of what a great God we have, what a loving God we have, a God who gave up everything for us, because of His great love for us. God loves us so much. God loves you so much. God created us to love us and even when we have sinned, He is always there to forgive us. Jesus’ death purchased forgiveness for us and for all. So, having been forgiven we start over, and with His help we live lives of faith. We live lives which say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Chalice - Lent Mid-week 4 - March 14, 2012 - Text: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

This evening we continue looking at the symbols of Lent and Easter. Our symbol this evening is the Chalice, that is the cup which is thought to be used by Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed, the night in which He shared the Passover Seder with His disciples or rather with His Apostles and from that Passover Seder He gave His apostles and us something new, His Holy Supper, the Lord’s Supper.

The background of the Passover Seder is that this was a meal of remembrance. This feast, this celebration, this meal was given to the Children of Israel by God Himself as a reminder to His people of their being delivered from their bondage of slavery in Egypt. The very first Passover entailed each family of the children of Israel to select an unblemished lamb which was slaughtered, the blood collected and with a hyssop branch painted on the door post and lintel of the door of the house as a sign and mark that the angel of death would pass over that house and spare the life of the first born. Interestingly enough, the painting of the blood on the door post and lintel make for a sign of the cross, the up and downward motion on the door posts and the side to side motion over the lintel.

The Seder meal included the consumption of four cups of wine and the eating of unleavened bread. The cups of wine in order were called the cup of sanctification, the cup of deliverance, the cup of redemption and the cup of praise. The unleavened bread consisted of three pieces of matzah in which the middle piece of matzah was broken with half being hidden and found later. Also the unleavened bread or matzah was pierced with holes, and stripped with char or burn marks.

The Seder meal was a meal of remembrance, remembering the passing over of the angel of death as Israel departed, escaped and were delivered from their bondage of slavery in Egypt. The final plague God sent in Egypt was the angel of death who went throughout Egypt killing the first born of man and animal, passing over the houses of the Israelites that were marked with the blood of the lamb.

The meaning of symbols include the Middle Matzah, which, as we said was broken, and half was hidden. The hidden half was later found and “redeemed” or bought back by the father. This middle matzah, broken, hidden and redeemed reminds us of Jesus who was broken, died, was buried and in three days rose for us.

It was this third cup of wine in particular, cup of redemption, which Jesus gave to His apostles with the words, “this is my blood.” Paul reminds us in his epistle, a little later than our text that if anyone eats and drink this Lord’s Supper without recognizing the body and blood of Christ, eats and drinks judgement on themselves. Thus, Jesus’ words are important and meaningful, this is His body and blood which He has given, broken and poured out for us.

And Jesus says to “do this in remembrance.” This word remembrance is not simply a recollection of a certain event as we would imagine today. No, this remembrance is an actual participation in the event which has taken place. So, as we eat the bread and body of Christ, and as we drink the wine and blood of Christ we are actually participating in His life, suffering, death and resurrection so that His life becomes our life, His suffering becomes our suffering, His death becomes our death and His resurrection becomes our resurrection.

In the Old Testament the family would bring the lamb to be sacrificed. The lamb was to be a whole, pure, unblemished lamb. The lamb was slaughtered, killed, and barbequed. The priest would keep part of the lamb for himself and his family and the rest of the lamb was eaten by family as they participated in the sacrifice.

So, what does this mean? And what is the significance of the chalice, of the eating and drinking of bread and wine and the body and blood of Jesus mean for us today? In the Garden of Eden God promised to take care of the sin of Adam and Eve. The price for sin was set, death, physical death and, apart from Jesus, eternal spiritual death, or hell. The price could only be paid by someone who did not owe, thus, we could never and will never be able to pay the price for our sins, because we owe too much, even our own souls for our sins.

Throughout the Old Testament, God directed the children of Israel to sacrifice offerings in order to remind the children of Israel that the price for sin is death. Truly, all these Old Testament sacrifices meant nothing as far as actually paying the price for sin, all they did was point to the one ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Like the Old Testament lamb, which was to be unblemished, Jesus is our Lamb of God, pure and holy, yet, it was not we who put our sins on Jesus, rather it was Jesus who took our sins, and all sin, the sin of all people of all places of all times. Jesus took our sins and He suffered and died, shedding His blood and paying the price, the physical death as well as the eternal spiritual death of hell for us in our place. Jesus could do this, take our sins, because as true God He was perfect and holy. And He could do this, take our place and be our substitute, because He was also one of us, truly human, being born of the human woman, the virgin Mary.

When we attend the Lord’s Supper we eat the bread and with the bread we eat Jesus body’ and we drink the wine from the cup and with the wine we drink Jesus’ blood, thus, very much like the Old Testament sacrifices, we participate in Jesus so that His life becomes our life, His death becomes our death and His resurrection becomes our resurrection.

And so, very much like the angel death passed over the homes marked with the blood of the lamb in Egypt, so too even today the angel of death, the angel of eternal spiritual death passes over us who are marked with the blood of Jesus, so that we do not die an eternal spiritual death, even though we may have to suffer physical death.

We are given life. The greatest gift we are given is the gift of forgiveness of sins. Without forgiveness we are left in our sins and we would only have eternal spiritual death. But with forgiveness is life and salvation. And the Gospel is that it is all gift. Gift given, gift received, all God’s doing, all our being done to.

As we look at the chalice we are reminded of the blood of Jesus. We are reminded that it was Jesus who shed His blood for us. It was Jesus who traded His life for ours. What should have been ours, eternal spiritual death, Jesus took. What should have been Jesus’, eternal life in Heaven, is ours. It is when we understand the whole sacramental aspect of the Lord’s Supper, that is when we realize how wonderful the Lord’s Supper truly is and why we crave the Lord’s Supper, for without this understanding, it would simply be a snack. But when we understand how the Lord’s Supper is a means through which He comes to us to give us the gifts He has to give, we crave the meal for our strengthening. May the chalice indeed remind you of this pure gift of Gospel of Jesus giving Himself completely for you because of His love for you.

Let me leave you with Paul’s passing on of the giving of the Lord’s Supper, ““23For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ 25In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). To God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Cross - Lent Mid-week 3 - March 7, 2012 - Text: Numbers 21:8-9; John 3:14-15

This evening we continue to look at some of the symbols for Lent and Easter. This evening we look at what is probably the most predominate symbol, not simply for Lent and Easter, but for Christianity in general. This evening we look at the cross and its significance. As we begin, let me first say, that is it truly sad that for too many people in our world today the cross has simply become a nice piece of jewelry, a nice set of earrings, a nice necklace, even a pretty colored piece of jewelry which matches my outfit, if you will. Let me first, rather crassly ask, would you were a pair of electric chair earrings? Because, whatever we think of the cross in terms of fashion, its original intent and purpose was as a means of execution and it was intended to be the most cruel means of execution. But let us get to the cross and its symbolism.

We first come upon the cross in the Old Testament in the account of Moses and the rebellion of the Israelites. God sent serpents to punish Israel and He sent for Moses to put a serpent on a pole to save the people. We read the Moses account, “8And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.’ 9So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live” (Numbers 21:8-9).

God had delivered the children of Israel from their bondage of slavery in Egypt and now they were wondering in the wilderness on their way to the promised land. And the people continually rebelled against Moses and against God. They continually complained because of their situation. They did not trust God. They continually sinned and in their sin they sinned even more.

And so, God punished the people. In the instance of our text, God punished the people by sending these snakes to bite and poison the people. There is nothing like the law and punishment to get people back in line. Of course the people did not like the fact that they were being punished and being killed off by these snakes and so they prayed to God. Whether they truly recognized their sin or not, I cannot say. All I can say is what the text says and it says they cried out for help.

God heard the cry of the people. He heard their cry of repentance and God sent forgiveness. The forgiveness God sent was a way for the Israelites to acknowledge their sin and confess and to, in faith, be given God’s forgiveness through the cure. God told Moses to put a snake on a pole so that in repentance and faith, when the person looked at the serpent on the pole he or she would be healed.

What we see happening here is that the curse has became the cure. The serpent which was sent to bite and punish the people has become the cure in that a simple look in faith at the serpent on the pole brought forgiveness and healing. Please keep these images in mind as we move into the New Testament.

Fast forward to the New Testament. When Jesus was speaking of Moses about this situation He says, “14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

Jesus’ reference is first to Adam and Eve and their rebellion in the Garden of Eden. Their sin has been passed down, born in all people, genetically passed on. This sin which is passed on is what we call original sin. This sin was passed on even to God’s chosen people, the children of Israel. We see the fruition of this genetically inborn original sin in the rebellion of the children of Israel.

When God threatened to punish the sin of Adam and Eve that punishment was to be eternal, spiritual death. When God threatened to punish the children of Israel, at least in this instance it was the threat of temporal or physical death.

When Adam and Eve confessed, God promised and gave forgiveness. When the children of Israel confessed, God promised and gave forgiveness. When we confess our sins, we still have God’s promise and He gives us forgiveness of sins.

In the Garden of Eden God promise to send a Savior, even Himself in human flesh, the Son of man. In the wilderness God sent the serpent on the pole to be the cure. When the people looked at the curse on the pole and believed they were cured. When we look at the Son of man, the human Jesus, one of us who brought the curse, through Adam, Jesus became the cure.

What we are reading, hearing, is what we call a type and an antitype. The events of the Old Testament are a type of, are linked, and prefigure the events of the New Testament which are the antitype. Thus, we see the brazen serpent on the cross is a type of Christ and Jesus on the cross is the antitype. The poison-less (lifeless) serpent is the type and the “helpless” human Jesus, is the antitype. The “looking” at the brazen serpent meant healing is the type and “looking” at Jesus, that is faith in Jesus, means forgiveness and eternal life is the antitype. The punishment (being bitten by serpents) became the cure - the serpent being put on the cross is the type and the punishment for sin (death) became the cure - Jesus died on the cross in our place is the antitype.

What does this mean? Scripture continually bears out the truth that in the beginning God created everything perfect and holy, or as it says in Genesis, good and very good. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sinned and now their sin infects all humanity as all people are conceived and born in sin.

God’s threat of punishment, eternal spiritual death must be appeased, the price for sin must be paid. The wages, the price, the cost for sin is death, physical or temporal death, but worse, eternal spiritual death which is hell. God’s threat is to all who have ever lived, all who are alive and all who ever will live. His threat is on those who are not perfect.

Thanks be to God that He has promised a way out and that way out is through His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. In order for Jesus to be our Savior He had to be perfect. In order to be perfect, He had to be and He is truly God. In order to be our substitute He had to be one of us, a human being. Jesus was born of the human woman, Mary and so He is truly human.

Jesus, being conceived by the Holy Spirit is true God, who gave up the glory that was His in heaven. Jesus became man, being born of a woman, being born in a stable. Jesus lived perfectly, for us, in our place because we cannot be perfect. After living a perfect life. After fulfilling all God’s commands and promises fully, Jesus took man’s sin, upon Himself. He who knew no sin became sin for us. And Jesus suffered. He suffered the entire price for our sin. He suffered eternal spiritual death for us in our place and He died. Of course, we know the whole story, we know the rest of the story, He did not stay dead, death and the grave had no power over Him, for on the third day He rose from the dead, victorious over sin, death and the power of the devil.

The cross, the means of capital punishment, the means of death has became our cure. We are the ones who bring sin and death. Yet, when we look on Jesus, as one of us, by faith in Him we have forgiveness and life, even eternal life. And so, much like the early sacrifice, where the family would eat the sacrifice, and thus participate in the sacrifice, so at the Lord’s Table, at the Lord’s Supper we too eat Jesus body and drink His blood and participate in His life, death and resurrection so that His life becomes our life, His death becomes our death and His resurrection becomes our resurrection.

The cross, for us Christians is a symbol of death, but even more, it is a symbol of life. It is a symbol of physical death and our sins which cause such death, but it is a symbol of life, of Jesus giving His life for ours so that we have forgiveness of sins and with forgiveness life and salvation. To God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What is okay and what is not okay, according to contemporary popular culture:

So, if we are honest, we must admit and understand the our life expectancy in this world is eighty, maybe ninety and in rare cases one hundred years (God has limited man’s years to 120 [Gen. 6:3]). And eternity, life after life in this world is forever, no ending, on and on, eons upon eons. And if we take God’s Word seriously, then we understand that eternity is forever and there is not movement from heaven to hell or from hell to heaven following the day of judgement. We also understand that the judgement that will befall us is determined by our faith or non-faith in Jesus, faith or non-faith which shows itself in one’s life.

With the above understanding and presuppositions, why is it that we think we are more caring when we care about a person’s temporary physical well being and we are accused of all sorts of malevolence, malice and meanness when we show care for their eternal well-being? Let me explain. When a friend has a drinking or drug problem, we believe it is okay to point out this problem and work to help our friend to beat the problem. Yet, when our friend puts their soul in eternal peril, by such public sins as living together without the benefit of marriage, living any lifestyle contrary to the Word of God, such as a homosexual lifestyle, or by outright despising the Word of God by not only rejecting the gifts God gives by not being in Divine Service and Bible class regularly (every time it is offered) and even speaks out against the pastor and the congregation, we think, “How dare you.”

What most people fail to realize concerning spiritual sins is the fact that even though Jesus paid the price for all sins, we reject that forgiveness when we fail to confess, to repent of our sins and when we fail to strive with God’s help to not commit such sins again. So, when I am living with someone without the benefit of marriage, not only am I sinning, but I am rejecting forgiveness by not confessing that I am doing wrong. But, what if I do confess? When we confess we live that confession by changing our lives, by striving with God’s help to not continue to do the same sin. So, if I confess and then continue blatantly to live in that sin I am truly not confessing. To live in one’s sin, denying forgiveness puts one’s soul in eternal peril, because to die refusing and rejecting the gifts God gives is the sin against the Holy Spirit. And this principle may be applied to any public or private sin in which one refuses to confess and/or, with God’s help, change one’s way.

So, again, why are we perceived and less loving when we care for one’s eternal well-being over one’s physical, earthly well-being? Maybe it is time we start rethinking our attitudes toward others that love us by calling us to account for our spiritual well-being.

Friday, March 2, 2012

More To Think About

What is wrong with this statement?
“Jesus came to show us how to live.”

Perhaps the putting the best construction on everything and explaining everything in the best possible light we might say that Jesus did some to set an example for us, but if that is the only reason Jesus came, then certainly we would simply fall into disbelief, despair and other great shame and vice. The fact of the matter is that we cannot live according to Jesus’ example; thus, if the way one is saved is to follow Jesus’ example, then we would all be doomed.

Jesus came to live for us. Jesus came to fulfill all righteousness for us. Jesus came to obey the Law perfectly for us. Jesus came to fulfill all the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah for us. Actually Jesus came to do what Israel was chosen to do and could not do. Jesus came as the true Israel, to live as God’s chosen people. Jesus came to take our sins upon Himself. Jesus came to suffer and die to pay the price for our sins. Jesus came to rise from the dead defeating sin, death and the devil. Jesus showed Himself to be alive, for us. Jesus ascended to the place from which He descended where He is watching over us, ruling over us, and interceding for us.

Here again we see the fullness of the Gospel is not simply that Jesus died and rose, but that He lived for us; thus. He was able to give His life as a substitute for us. He took our sins. He gives us His righteousness and perfection.

What Jesus does and our response to what Jesus does can be seen in this illustration of repentance. There was a teacher who passed out new crayons to the entire class. She told all her students to be careful and not break them. One child pushed a little too hard and broke one of his crayons. The teacher then asked for the children to put any broken crayons on the top of their desk. In order to “stay out of trouble,” the one child hid the broken crayon in the box, putting the bottom part in the box and the broken off top part on top. The teacher then went around the room and instead of “yelling” at the students, she exchanged new crayons for broken ones. Unfortunately, the child with the hidden crayon did not receive a new crayon. In much the same way, our sins that are unconfessed, although the price has been paid for those sins, to us they are not forgiven. We have refused that forgiveness, which is truly our own option since the price has already been paid. And our sins that are confessed are forgiven because the price has already been paid.