Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shine Jesus Shine!

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The light of the world is Jesus! He is not merely a light like that we have so much in our modern society. Take a drive out into the country at night away from the artificial lights of the city. We return to some of what the people in the day of Jesus experienced at night. In that darkness that one can almost feel and taste a small flame off a match will seem like daytime. The darkness is not of the absence of light but more of the reaction of people to challenges of life. Our bent is toward acting in a way contrary to God’s law and will. This is why we need Jesus because he fulfilled the laws requirements and this is given to us graciously.

Such is the darkness in our world. On every hand we see the sinfulness of man in his cruelty to his fellow man. Death always seems to be the answer. It does not seem to matter if the person is too young or too old and ill to care for him or herself the answer is always death to the world. Christ have mercy. Help us good Lord as your children to be people who honor life as a gift from you and value it no matter the age or capabilities of the person.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. ESV

Ok I get it. That is the cause of all the fuss around Christmas. Atheists and others are so offended at nativity scenes and work feverishly to rid themselves of them. The world does not know Jesus and has no use for him. But to those who know him he is the older brother which hung on a cross as his throne on a fallen world. He was also buried and resurrected for our sin. He did all that so we have the right to become children of God in him.

In the name of Jesus. Amen †

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Shut Up!

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, a roadmap to get to heaven, or a guidebook for successful living etc. These are a few phrases I have heard when people tell you what they think about the bible. You got it! They are all based upon a law only understanding of scripture.

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. ESV

So there we have it! This is the purpose of the law. It is not to be able to raise perfect children, have a winning soccer team or have a marriage free of stress. The law tells us to shut up! How rude! God does not want us to credential ourselves before him with our puny efforts to obey him. Jesus did that for us and him being God he could where we fail and fall so miserably short.

The bible is about Jesus first and foremost. It also contains the good news of the Gospel. Hear this good news:

Isaiah 44:21 Remember these things, O Jacob,
and Israel, for you are my servant;
I formed you; you are my servant;
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.
22 I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud
and your sins like mist;
return to me, for I have redeemed you.
23 Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it;
shout, O depths of the earth;
break forth into singing, O mountains,
O forest, and every tree in it!
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
and will be glorified in Israel. ESV

What our Lord told Israel so many years ago he tells us today. He has blotted out our transgression and sins. He will not hold those in Jesus accountable for the evil they have done. Do we then sin up a storm? What a horrible question to ask! Why would we want to do that in the face of such a gracious God? Rather let us believe this good news and live in the peace it gives.

In the name of Jesus. †

Monday, March 14, 2011

Oil and Water.

Nothing will quench my thirst after a time of yard work like a nice tall glass of ice water. I can see it when I am working in my mind. Clear water with ice so cold that when I take it outside it fogs up on the outer part of the glass. Every 3 months or 3 thousand miles we change the oil in our vehicles. That habit will serve us well in keeping a car operational over many years.

Each fluid described above has a specific task for which it qualifies. Neither task is interchangeable. If one fills the crankcase of the car with iced water instead of oil it would be a disaster. Drinking a tall glass of motor oil would cause serious illness or death. The effectiveness of the fluids is also diminished when mixed. The same can be said with the law and the Gospel.

The doctrinal contents of the entire Holy Scriptures, both of the Old and the New Testament, are made up of two doctrines differing fundamentally from each other, viz., the Law and the Gospel.*

Dr CFW Walther, so many years ago, identified the problem in the church of mixing the Law and Gospel. We still have that error today. Some will talk of Jesus being the new Moses. Teaching of how one cannot know he or she is saved unless a drastic change in life has happened to where he or she no longer sins or sins much less. Or that one must make Jesus Lord of one’s life as an extra step in conversion. These and other errors will rob the Gospel of its sweetness and the Law of its sternness. The first happens and one can be led to even doubt one’s eternal salvation. The latter happens and one may fall into impenitence and endanger themselves and their salvation.

Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

St Paul clearly distinguishes between the Law and the Gospel. The law shows us that all have sinned and fallen short of God. The Gospel on the other hand shows that by faith we now have the righteousness of God given to us. In addition we are justified graciously with no effort on our part. This is the done didness of Jesus’ work for us.

Thanks be to God. †

*Thesis I on the Law and the Gospel by CFW Walther First President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. 1884