Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Angels & Our Salvation

It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
1 Peter 1:12

The "them" that Peter is here referring to at the beginning of this verse are "the prophets" in verse 10 who longed to find out all the particulars about the Coming Messiah or Christ, and His sufferings and glories (verse 11). This great mystery and revelation of God were truly things for angels to look at. This prophesying by these Old Testament prophets was about none other than the Incarnation and saving work of Jesus on the cross. The Greek word used here and translated as "look" is suggestive of an intense interest in the work of redemption, the whole plan of God's salvation being unfolded in time and space and history through Jesus Christ.

How amazing that Peter states that beginning with the apostles, the eyewitnesses of this marvelous, mysterious plan of reconciliation being achieved in the Life and Passion of Christ is now being made manifest among us! We, the heirs in the chain of receiving this eyewitness testimony to Christ and His salvation have had our spiritual eyes opened to the glories of this forgiveness wrought in the life of Jesus crucified for our sins. And this opening of our eyes to this glorious Good News is through those who preach it to us by the Holy Spirit.

And this magnificent plan of salvation of which we are apart of is truly things which the angels who worship at God's heavenly throne intensely are interested in! For "he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:3-5

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Blame Game

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
Psalm 51:4

The Blame Game! We each and everyone one of us are good at it. Much of the time, we put the blame everywhere else but where it should be, on us. We further naturally do not see nor perceive that the shame and blame that we experience when we sin is against "none other" than God.

This truth is captured so remarkably in this confession of David's affair with Bathsheba. (2 Samuel 11-12) Certainly he had sinned not only against Bathsheba, but her husband Uriah, the military commander Joab, the Israelite army and the entire country of which he was king. How and why then could he confess: against You, God, and You alone, have I sinned? Because sin against our neighbors is at the same time sin against the Creator of all of them whom not only created them but placed them in our world for us to love and care for. In the end, we are answerable to Him.

Thus, David rightly declares that God is justified in that God is always in the right against sinful humanity and that sinful humanity is always in the wrong before a Holy God. God's judgment in the manner is always true and just and fair. The Apostle Paul quotes this very part of the verse in Romans 3:4 in support of God's faithfulness: "Let God be true though every one were a liar."

Thanks be to God though that this judgment of sin is not the final declaration for David or the rest of us in Psalm 51 (Law) but that there is abundant Gospel here for the absolution of sin against God, e.g. verse 1: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions" or verse 7: "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" or verses 9-10: "Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities, create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."

We know that such mercy, such love, such purging, washing and blotting out of sins is only accomplished and received by faith in the sacrificial death, resurrection, ascension and faith in this Good News of Jesus Christ. Such blessed restoration, renewal in the forgiveness of sin for restores the likes of sinful David to the God against whom the sin has been committed when confessed and believed to be sacrificed for in the name of the Son of David, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Monday, May 10, 2010

What's Your Spiritual IQ?

And he is the head of the body, the church.
Colossians 1:18a

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5

Intelligence is certainly a God given gift to those who have the capacity to learn about God's magnificent creation and understand its complex and glorious workings. It is truly an awesome and powerful thing, but it can be used either for the good of humanity or to its detriment. Such intelligence, however, is not nor can it even begin to understand God and His ways. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, stubborn fools despise wisdom and discipline," says Proverbs 1:7.

Spiritual wisdom, or intelligence if you will, is also a gift of God through the Holy Spirit which enlightens the sinful heart with spiritual thoughts of true wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:13-14). And this spiritual intelligence is that Jesus is our wisdom, our salvation, our Lord and Savior from sin. This makes disciples of Jesus Christ wise to salvation and eternal life. So they follow Jesus by listening and believing in His Word, not their own thoughts and understanding.

By faith Christians know that their own inner voice and that of the most highest IQ's in the world cannot give them the forgiveness of their sins, the comfort and joy of knowing they are at peace with God because of Christ, nor can they lead them to heaven above and its glories. These only come through trust in Christ and His Word. It does not promise that this path will be smooth and obstacle free. It does promise that it will reveal the right direction and destination, even if bearing one's crosses is necessary to get there.

As one commentator put it so well: "True wisdom consists of listening to God, even when his word goes against what we might think is best."

Monday, May 3, 2010

In Jesus, All God's Promises Are Yes!

For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us... was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many be the promises of God, in Him they are yes.
2 Corinthians 1:19,20a

There is someone who when He speaks a promise, always fulfills it as he promised: Christ Jesus. All of God's promises find their fulfillment, their Amen, their Yes, in Him.

What are some of His promises to us? I forgive you all your sins (Absolution). I baptize you in my Holy Name to make you my beloved child and an heir of all my kingdom (Baptism). I give you my very body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins, for the strengthening of your faith, for the unity of the church (Lord's Supper).

It is said that Luther's turning point and the Reformation's start was when he discovered in God's Word in 1518 that when God speaks words of promise, they are just that: deliver what is promised in Christ Jesus! As in the Christmas story from Luke 2:11 "To you is born this day a Savior!" He had promised it long ago and He delivered.

Jesus is the reconciliation for everyone, having made peace for warring, rebelling humans against God by the sinless one becoming sin for the sinful (2 Corinthians 5:19-21). Thus, God gives His ambassadors (pastors) to speak this message of reconciliation, this peace Jesus earns and now distributes through speaking the promises fulfilled in Christ Jesus!

Trust that all promises to restore you to our Holy God are Yes, Amen, Fulfilled in Christ Jesus our Lord.