Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Malignant Enemy of Death

"Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:54c-56

As we increase in years, it begins to get to you. Been thinking of it in terms of words from that great hymn "Abide With Me": "Change and decay in all around I see." One begins to feel death's heavy hand smothering out lots of friends, loved ones, pets, etc. World is bombarded with natural disasters and in cruelties all around. Death and decay seem to be winning.

BUT, Paul inspired of the Holy Spirit retorts, that is not the final outcome. Death loses! Yes, the law has been broken and physical death, separation of the body and soul is the price for each sinner to pay. BUT, the Christian does not die in sin, but all sin has been absolved in and by Christ. Thus, death is but the portal to eternal life in heaven in a resurrected body!

The uncomfortableness we feel about death now is this price for sin, but we who believe in Christ's victory for us in the cross and resurrection will experience this victory personally over sin, death and devil when we will be raised "incorruptible, clothed with immortality!"

And so? "So, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Cor. 15:58

Monday, January 31, 2011


"Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment"
Psalm 1:5a

It's not something many like to contemplate at all, not now or ever: the final judgment. Normally it is referred to as "fire and brimstone" preaching. This first Psalm takes it up in quick fashion, and because the Psalter was the Old Testament Hymnal for Jesus and the Apostles, it is fascinating that this topic is the focus of Hymn #1: The Righteous vs. The Wicked.

We must then quickly discern what is meant by this division and titles "righteous" and "wicked." They are legal, courtroom terms, but the Lord's courtroom, a holy courtroom where Godly justice is dispensed. Thus, the righteous meet the legal conditions of the court and the wicked not so. Then who among us can say they keep the Lord's commands? As Psalm 130:3 asks: "If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?" What this infers, taking into account all of Scripture, is that each of our records of sin would be so offensive that none be acquitted on the Day of Judgment. But the psalm continues: "But with you there is forgiveness." Thus, the righteous. Righteous solely because they believe in a Savior, Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, but became the punishment for their sin. (2 Cor. 5:21) Thus, righteous can be equated with having one's sins forgiven by faith in Jesus' death and resurrection for them.

Not so the wicked! They scoff at this! (Psalm 1:1c) They do not walk in this way, this whole life of faith in the gospel (verse 1). Thus, we come to the first word in Psalm 1:5, "therefore." Therefore, because these do not allow Jesus' forgiveness to be theirs, they retain all their sins. Thus, no standing on the day of judgment. As one commentator puts it: "shall not be able to maintain himself or stand his ground when the judgment comes. Keeping the same figure, he shall be obliged to sit down or to retire in shame or confusion as one convicted of guilt."

How wonderful in contrast the righteous! They are trees planted by streams of living water that no matter what the time or season, they always bear fruit and they will stand as exactly what they are: the righteous of the Lord. He knows this. (Psalm 1:6) They shall always prosper in faith given them by their Lord Jesus! Amen.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Christ's Church is Never Declining!

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
Psalm 46:5

When the statistics are announced about Christianity in the world, what is typically said in our time? It is in decline. This world's analysis says that it is in decline, but God says it will never decline, for He is in her midst!

Notice anything about this Psalm? Right, it is the Mighty Fortress Psalm! "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea." Verse1-2

Over all of its history the Christian church in the eyes of man is always been on the decline and about to go under. Even after our Lord's Ascension, the church was consisting of only a few men and women who believed and were carrying out His mandates. He continually added to this church. And He continues to add to it, and will until the day He returns! So, it is never declining! It is always growing!

His Word even teaches that during the last days, it would seem to be doomed to decline and ruin, except that He return and rescue it: "And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short." Matthew 24:22

God is always in the midst of the Church to continue His saving work through the gospel in Word and Sacrament to add to His kingdom. This wonderful work will continue till the end, even though the devil and world rages against it. They will not succeed. For He is present in these precious means of grace (Word and Sacrament) to be her midst to protect, as is well proven over time.

Luther asks who is doing all this? He answers in his most famous hymn: "Jesus Christ it is, of Sabaoth Lord, And there's no other God." The Crucified One continues to fight with and for His increasing and not declining Church! Thanks be to God!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Good News: How Sweet It Is!

More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

Psalm 19:10

Jackie Gleason, the departed great comedian and TV star, used to say this expression which he became famous for: How sweet it is! How truly sweet God's Word is! That is what this verse is referring to when its says: "more to be desired are they." The teaching, the testimony, the precepts of the Lord, they are clean, endure forever, they are altogether true, this Psalm 19 proclaims!

They are a far better investment than even pure gold. We are bombarded these days with TV commercials encouraging us to put some of our investments in gold since it is attributed to have one of the best returns over the long haul. Then how much more return for eternity is there for us who invest in God's Word, in His precious Law and Gospel which tells us of our sin problem and our Salvation in believing Christ's pure and perfect sacrificial death and resurrection solves this problem?

It is the most valuable investment and possession we have or could have! It is truth! It is life! It is eternal truth and life!

Grow in this God-given investment by getting into His Word today at a church that teaches it rightly and purely. It is sweeter to your soul than even the drippings of the honeycomb.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

World's Gods: Only Compatibility is Incompatibility

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me."
John 14:6

We hear so much drivel these days about the compatibility of all gods; that any god will get you to a good place at the end... that all gods lead to the same place.

This is patently and logically wrong. As noted thinker J.W. Montgomery states in his intense book retort (Tractatus Logico-Theologicus) to Wittgenstein: "The characteristic most fully shared by the religions of the world is their incompatibility with each other." This clearly if true refutes the prevailing belief today in pluralism, that there are many paths to the truth, not just one.

It is also Biblically wrong, since it clearly throughout presents the truth that there is only one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Because the Bible presents the problem of all humanity as sin, the law, devil and death, these truths dictate a divine and miraculous solution. It is given so magnificently in the sacrificial life, death and resurrection of Jesus for all mankind. "There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

Either Jesus came to this earth to be this solution or He did not. The evidence in the Bible and history bears this out, as does well done logic put forward by such as Montgomery to substantiate this. Which other god has ever proposed such a solution? None.

Therefore, the only compatibility the world religions have is their incompatibility.

Thanks be to God who has secured our salvation through Jesus' precious blood shed for our sins. Amen.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Don't You Dare Take A Red Pen To It!

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
1 Thessalonians 2:13

I want to let you know where this "taking the red pen" thought came from. It came from a recent published excellent book which you should consider obtaining and reading: Lutheranism 101, Concordia Publishing House (cph.org) Discussing the solas (alones) of the Reformation, it states: "We believe the Bible is God's perfect Word; therefore, we don't approach the Scriptures with a red pen!"

How utterly tragic and misleading it is for those who would take the "red pen" of academia and logic and learning to the Bible to stand over it as its critic, rather than to be under it as God's sacred revelation of the truth to humanity. Such is the tone in much of our country these days, to see the Bible as only a flawed human document. Under this approach everything is challenged as to: did God really say this?

Paul rejoices in the Thessalonian Christians who did not accept this role of judging and critiquing the Word of God, of not accepting it as " the word of men" but "what it really is, the word of God." Strangely enough, much of our modern day "red penned critics" proclaim that Paul is the very one who at the least embellished the actual historical truth. Yet this great apostle here flatly denies this!

Those of us today who believe with Paul and the Thessalonians this letter is addressed to that the Bible is God's Word to us and that it is now "at work in you believers," know that is working this very moment as it always has to bring us to saving faith in Jesus Christ crucified for our sins and is also sustaining this faith to eternity through this same Word. As he writes in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 "because our gospel came to you in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction."

We should also go further to express that "taking the red pen" to God's Word can and does happen in other ways than just letting our human intelligence rule over it. We can and do at times let our emotions and experiences do the same damaging, faith destroying "red pen" editing of God's Word, adding and subtracting at will what God has said to us. In these cases also, we are thus using it not as His revealed Word but the Word under our control.

Whether we take the "red pen" of intelligence, emotions or experience to God's Word , they each lead us from what God intended and gave His powerful, saving Word to be for us: bring us to see Christ as our Light that removes all the darkness of our sin by grace through faith. May the Holy Spirit continue to allow us to be fervent witnesses of God's Word which continues to lead us forth in the victory of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.