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Category: Good news

Bound or free?

Why do I do what I do?

Over the short course of my career as a bi-vocational pastor, my eyes have been opened to the nature of sin.  It is not that I am pre-occupied by it.  The Lord made me in such a way to desire more than the simple answer.  I always want to know the answer to “why?”

It might go something like this; I see someone gossiping.  I understand that gossip is a sin, but if you simply address the surface-level sin, then you are treating the symptom, not the illness.  Other pastors might say, “Well, the root is sinfulness!”  That is true, too, but this statement doesn’t address the issue.

In my experience, it is helpful to consider the factors which lead someone to behave in this way.  I want to understand human behavior.  Buried under the human psyche, the surface sin might be emanating from something much deeper.  Maybe some kind of pain or trauma that the person has had.  Maybe a feeling of vulnerability that lies just beneath the surface.

So, whatever the case, I have come to realize that a person who spends their time gossiping is in bondage.  Just as a person who rebels against God’s Law is not free, but in bondage.  Just as another who judges their fellow man is in bondage.

A person can recognize that they are bound; they can clearly see their own issue(s).  They can even feel guilty or convicted by their behavior.  Yet, they are unable to change their behavior.  They are slaves of sin.  This understanding helps me to be compassionate towards the person.

Hiding from ourselves

It would be easy to separate and divide others outside the church from those inside the church.  We could say, “Yeah, but look at what they do!  They’re much worse than I am!”  Religiosity blinds us from the fact that “YOU are the man!”  We don’t want to admit that we Christians are the ones who need to be set free from the “law (read rule) of sin and death”.

In order to do this, we set up complex structures of excuses, justifications or claims of ignorance.  Sometimes, we just don’t want to see our sin.  To be honest with you, it’s because the old Adam (or Eve) in us doesn’t want to be seen for who he/she is.

We are so bound by desire to preserve the old Adam , that we will pretend to be faithful on the outside just so the old Adam never gets exposed from the inside.  Let’s face it, the old Adam is good at hiding.

As sons and daughters of Adam, we hide behind piety which keep us in control.  Instead of letting God have His way with us, we have strengthened ourselves against the God who would save us from sin.  In reading the Gospels, you will find that it was the religious leaders, so invested in their own piety, who resisted the free Gospel of Jesus Christ.

No Surprise

It comes as no surprise, then, that the most Christian among us display these ‘cracks in their armor’.  Why?  Because they are not cracks at all.  Gossipers, rebels, the judgmental all see themselves as righteous, not really needing God at all.  All of these manifestations of sin are the evidence of bondage to sin.

This principle can be applied to nearly anyone who displays gross sin.  Please understand, I am not saying that we are excused from sin because we are enslaved by it.  All of these behaviors emanate from our own hearts, not someone else’s.  The devil didn’t make me do it.  It’s in my blood and in yours.

Our hope isn’t in our piety or religious observance, in fact, these are contributing to the problem.  You and I are tempted to overcome sin by behaving in a “Christian” way.  It won’t work.  Our good behavior cannot end our bad behavior.  It simply keeps the old Adam in control.  Instead, we need to find outside help.

“Who will rescue me from this body of sin and death?”

Paul the apostle writes the above in Romans 7:24.  In fact, He uses the present tense verb, am in the phrase, “wretched man that I am!”  Paul is describing his present condition in relation to the law.  What is this Holy Apostle to do?

He writes this, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord”.  Paul has abandoned himself (and his impeccable reputation) in light of his awareness of depth of sin.  He looks to the outside savior.  He looks not to the old Adam for overcoming sin that he sees in himself.  Instead, He looks to the New Adam, who overcame sin for him.

The experience Paul writes about is meant to help his readers identify with his plight and his salvation.  We are inside the struggling heart and mind of Paul, the Apostle.  And, he is not too proud to share his struggle with us.

His salvation came from the outside.  His Savior came from the outside.  Your Savior is completely outside of you, too.  He is on the cross dying for all of your sin and mine.  He is the only sacrifice for sin.

The church is where the outside work of Jesus makes a difference on our insides.  Not because we are religious or faithful, but because He is faithful to come to us in the proclamation of His Gospel.  He is faithful to be present in, with, and under the bread and wine (or, grape juice).  He is both the author and perfecter of our faith.  His forgiveness is a living forgiveness that is distributed by both word and sacrament.

Start new again.  In fact, start new every week.  Come wicked sinners.  Because, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst” (1 Tim. 1:15).  And, in the end, He will have His way with you anyhow (Forde).

Thanks be to God.

 

 

 

Return

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During the summer, many adult children are traveling back to their hometowns to visit parents and relatives.  They revisit the places and people who gave them their start in life.  Often, this experience re-kindles memories and dreams of the future which were lost under the layers of the years.

As we come up to the 500th year of the German Reformation, it is fitting to remember what we will be celebrating.  For the past few weeks, we have been reading snippets from the Book of Concord in anticipation of this event.  Some have never heard these words before, while the readings have re-kindled memories of Sunday school for others.  The words serve as a reminder of what we believe, teach and confess at Calvary.

Yet, at its core, the German reformation centered around one man.  Even more to the point, it centered on one man’s discovery.  What we will celebrate on October 31st, 2017 is the re-discovery of the Gospel by a monk named Martin Luther.

But, what is the Gospel?  Here is a quiz:

The Gospel is …

  1. The greatest commandment that Jesus gave — “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:37-40)
  2. Hearing the facts about Jesus and making a decision or praying a sinner’s prayer
  3. Surrendering your life to Christ fully
  4. Doing good works – Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.
  5. God’s only Son became man, lived among us, bore all our sins as a perfect sacrifice, was crucified, died and was buried. On the third day, He rose again.  By His work on the Cross, you have been forgiven all your sin, and been made right with God through His blood alone.

In the first four examples, ‘the gospel’ is contingent on my efforts.  You have to do something to earn God’s forgiveness, mercy and grace.  They are pre-requisites to salvation.  Faith is a result of what you do (even in your heart).

In the last example, faith is a result of what Jesus has done.  It is not a proposition to be decided on (as if I am God).  It is not a work of Christian piety (living a ‘spiritual’ life).  It is not determining to clean up one’s life.  It is not obeying God’s commandments.

The Gospel is Jesus Christ.  He is the Good News that God has come to rescue us.  God the Father has provided Jesus as the scapegoat for all of our sins.  And, He has rescued us from sin, death and the devil by becoming a curse for us.  At the cross, He paid the full penalty for your sin and mine.  In Him alone, we have the righteousness of God.

In preparing this article, I read the effect Luther’s re-discovery (through his commentary on Galatians) had on one reader.  The individual (Mike) wrote:

@brilliant – … I first encountered Luther’s works at a secular university where all of his works were free in the library. I was so happy to randomly start reading Galatians one day. I got so excited I photocopied the whole thing and marked up each line with a worn out highlighter. – Mike Jul 31 ’12 at 7:49  [emphasis mine]

(http://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/8742/when-and-how-did-martin-luther-arrive-at-the-justification-by-faith)

Although Luther has been with Jesus for almost five centuries, his rediscovery of the gospel is still making an impact (even in a secular university!).  We are inheritors of this discovery.  A discovery which comforts troubled consciences.  A discovery which breathes life and faith into the hearer.  A discovery based on one man’s decision.

Christ made the decision: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15).

His Gospel cuts through the layers of man’s efforts.  In fact, it completely undercuts man’s efforts at rescuing himself.

Whether you are a rebel openly disobeying God’s Law or you are a pietistic saint who follows every jot and tittle, the gospel is wholly outside of you, hidden in Christ.  All of the benefits of His death and resurrection have been applied to you in the waters of your baptism, and He continues to sustain you through word and sacrament.

Jesus essentially cries out “Return to me.  Forget the other nonsense.  Abandon open rebellion.  Abandon pietistic law-keeping.”  Jesus says the following in John 14:6, “I am the way the truth and the life.  There is no other way to the Father but by me.”

Later, John records Jesus saying, “I am the resurrection and the life” Christ is our life, our hope and our savior.  This is the Gospel we return to, reflect on, and make known to the world.  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  What an amazing discovery!

Amen

Pastor John

 

It’s about relationship, not relgion (?)

Spiritual, but not religious

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Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious”? Maybe they said it to you after you invited them to come to church.  How did you respond?  What did you think?  Were you thrown off-guard and feel that you were being judged because you are “religious”?

Many in the church have accepted this form of thinking. They say things like, “It’s a relationship not a religion” to distinguish how they worship God.  But, why the distinction?

Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller explains that many evangelicals are adopting this phrase because they see religion as law, and relationship as gospel[1].  In other words, religion is the repetitive, meaningless, impersonal and somewhat legalistic practices of a church without God.  It’s empty and hollow at best.  At its worse, it prevents one from having a real relationship with God.  It’s deadly.

He goes on to explain that relationship is gospel to those who embrace this thinking.  It is free, flexible, personal, and liberating.  To a culture that is bound in so many ways (work, children’s activities, commitments at home, etc.), this personal spirituality is preferable to formal corporate worship.  Our problem, then, is a lack of direct contact with Jesus.  Relationship is life-giving.

To be honest, life-giving sounds a whole lot more positive than religion.  I can throw off all my cares and simply relate to God.  And modern evangelicals are right to point out the need for a Christian to read the Bible on a daily basis as a part of this relationship.  A poll taken in 2012, though, shows that Christians in America aren’t doing this across the board[2].  Less than 20% read the Bible daily.  Despite all the English versions, despite colorful covers, despite cross-referenced Bibles with color maps and concordances, Bibles are gathering dust on Christian nightstands.

Modern American Christians do read, however. We read books on spirituality, recovery, self-esteem, end-times drama and even weight-loss from the Christian bookstore.  Because, let’s face it, the Bible is a challenging book to read.

It is a sad state of affairs. Martin Luther, who was a Bible scholar commented, “For some years now I have read through the Bible twice every year (emphasis mine). If you picture the Bible to be a mighty tree and every word a little branch, I have shaken every one of these branches because I wanted to know what it was and what it meant.”[3]

It is here that many of us (if not all) would admit that we don’t read the Bible as much as we should. We’ve, “gotten behind” in our readings.  And, maybe you are feeling a bit guilty right now as a result.  Who would want to continue a relationship where guilt and shame has poisoned the waters?  “I don’t want to feel condemned”, we might say to ourselves.  It’s easier to bury it under the busy-ness of our lives.  And thus, the relationship stops growing.  It goes dormant.  Eventually, it dies.

Now what? Some people decide that they will do a ‘Bible reading plan’.  They will re-commit themselves to their daily ‘quiet time’ and “really do it this time!” They are willing to set aside friends and family for this personal devotion.  And, by force of will, they push through for the first few weeks, but then, life starts to encroach.  Billy gets sick and needs to be taken to urgent care.  There’s a sale at the store, and we need to stock up on food.  My boss has called me in to work late again.

Or, we start to lose interest. The stories in Genesis (not fiction) give way to laws.  Laws give way to endless genealogies.  The walk through Scripture reading becomes a burden.  So much for the gospel of relationship!  Mid-way through Leviticus you think, “Can I get through this?  Maybe I could skip ahead.  Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.  I’ll skip to the Psalms and come back later.”

Eventually, you have skipped over half the Bible and realize that you’ve cheated. Now, you’re feeling guilty again.  “I just can’t do it.  I give up”.

And this is where many people end up after years of trying. They decide it’s futile.

The problem for the church is that it has made Bible reading into what Confessional Evangelicals call Law. That is, it is a demand and a requirement that God places upon you.  If you do this, you will have a relationship.  If not, you need to re-commit your life to Jesus.

The Christian is in a cycle of hopelessness. Despair for failing to fulfill the requirements of this relationship overwhelms the individual and they suffer in silence.  They are forced to cover over their relationship in fear of judgment from fellow believers.

Now, something spiritual is taking place.  The heart (deceitfully wicked as it is[4]) condemns the believer; they become bound by condemnation.  Instead of promised freedom, liberation and hope, despair, guilt and shame rule over you.

And that, my friends, is the Devil’s work. Making something that God meant for refreshment and encouragement into something oppressive and enslaving is clearly the theology of the devil worked into the church.  So, God must rescue us from this body of sin and death!

He does this by starting with … Scripture. Hear the following truth; 1 ‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death’ (Romans 8).  And, 3 ‘For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.’

God did it! He has set you free in this relationship.  He doesn’t condemn you when you haven’t read your Bible in a while.  Instead, He beckons you to hear His Word of forgiveness and grace.

You see, the problem is not that we don’t have a relationship with God, it is that we have a law-based relationship with God. In verse 2 above, it is better read, “… through Christ Jesus the rule of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the rule of sin and death.”  You are no longer under the rule and dominion of the devil and the heart.  Christ has set you free.

But, how can I learn about this true freedom? You can hear about it in the proclamation of Christ’s Gospel given in church.  You can read about it in His Word.  You can find out more through the small catechism and the confessions of our church.

The Son of God hasn’t come as a new Moses, giving new and better laws. Nor has He come to give less laws or easier laws.  Jesus Christ has come to fufill the Law[5].  And, He has already done it!  All of the Holy requirements for Spiritual perfection have been fulfilled by Jesus Christ.

Additionally, we are called to go to Him when we feel any kind of condemnation for our relational shortcomings: ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9). John continues in this letter: 19 ‘By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything’ (1 John 3, ESV).

Our relationship with Jesus began when we were buried with Him in baptism and raised through the very same waters as mentioned in Colossians 2:

6Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

8See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

9For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

13And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

See, you just read a bunch of Scripture! That didn’t hurt a bit, did it?  And, if you don’t like to read, just find the Bible on C.D. somewhere.  You can listen in your car or at home.  It’s God’s gift to you.  It’s not a ladder of perfection that you have to climb.  It is God’s word of promise (Old Testament) fulfilled in Jesus (New Testament) for you.  Now that’s a good relationship!

And now, may the grace of God keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,

Amen.

Pastor John

[1] http://issuesetc.org/2015/02/17/2-responding-to-evangelical-proof-texts-christianity-is-a-relationship-not-a-religion-pr-bryan-wolfmueller-21715/

[2] http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2012/september/new-research-less-than-20-of-churchgoers-read-bible-daily.html

[3] Martin Luther, Luther’s Works Vol. 54, 165

[4] Jeremiah 17:9, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?’ (NIV)

[5] Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (ESV; Jesus speaking).

Testimony

What do you think of when you hear the word testimony?  Perhaps you think of a court case where a person is called on to testify about their observations of a crime.

In modern evangelical circles, a person might tell the story of how they ‘made a decision for Christ’ publicly.  That person would talk about the darkest aspects of their past in order to highlight the change they went through as a result of that decision.  People who had the worst stories are often considered pseudo-celebrities for coming to Christ after all they’d been through.

The point of this exercise is to encourage the Christian audience that God is still at work.  Additionally, the ‘unchurched’ might feel that the person who is giving the testimony is a kindred spirit, and feel motivated to make a decision for Jesus just like s/he did.

For those of us who were raised in the church, we might feel that we haven’t had such a dramatic conversion.  We went to church on Sundays, attended Bible study and went through confirmation.  Our testimony seems rather weak compared, to say, a drug-addicted mother of fourteen who found the Lord and reformed her life.  Let’s face it, we’ll never end up on the lecture circuit with a resume of lifetime church-going.

But is our testimony the one that matters?

The apostle John’s account begins with testimony after testimony about Jesus.  He begins this account with what the Holy Spirit inspired him to write:

14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15(John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.d 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1, ESV)

John disappears into the background.  In fact, except for the phrase “The disciple whom Jesus loved”, John is hardly seen in his testimony about Jesus.

As the first chapter progresses, John writes of John the Baptist’s testimony:

29The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (ESV)

What an incredible declaration!  And that is not the end of it.  Jesus talks of himself in the “I am” statements made throughout John’s account.  These statements would have clearly reminded the Jews of Jesus’ day of Moses encounter with God in Exodus 3:14 at the burning bush:

13Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” 14God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”

Jesus is declaring that He is the self-existent God!

For you and I, this is good news.  We don’t have to worry about the relative strength or weakness about our personal testimony, instead, we can repeat the testimony of John the Apostle, John the Baptist and the all of the disciples who declared Jesus to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

This leads us to God’s testimony about us in 1 Peter 2:

9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

No matter what your background is, Jesus has made you his own.  Through Him, we have become one people, united through His death and resurrection.  ‘You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession’ through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  That is God’s testimony about you.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

Pastor John

Lay your burdens upon Him

Bitterness is an expression of pain.  People who feel bitter have been wounded at some point in their lives.  When they talk about their bitter feelings, it may sound ugly and hateful.

I read a series of threads on this issue, and almost all of them recommended staying away from such people.  But, what are you to do if you have to counsel a person with this issue?

The complexity can be daunting.  Allow them to spew out their bitterness (as long as it’s not directed at you); it can be therapeutic.  Every once in a while, you can sympathize with a statement that you find true.  You can also say, “I can understand how you felt/feel!”.  If something has clearly happened to them that was someone else’s fault, you can acknowledge that, too (this is a little tricky because perceptions are not always reality).  It is a good idea to assume the positive about others instead of the negative, and a counselor can be drawn into the negativity.

After that individual has exhausted their bitter expression, and they appear more relaxed, they might be receptive to the gospel.  It depends who they are.

If they enjoy ‘wallowing’ in the bitter feelings, it may be a source of their identity, meaning and purpose in life.  In truth, all humans have a penchant to enjoy negative feelings.  If this is the case, you won’t make much ground in counseling such people.  All you can do is love them and pray for them.  In my church, I can continue to feed them communion and tell them that Christ is their mercy.

If they seem open to your input, then you have an opportunity to tell them … the gospel.  I think some counselors want such people to alter their behavior without addressing the emotional issues.  This is a mistake.  To give a law, command or demand is to add a wound to a wounded person.  This is the ministry of death.

Instead, the opened person wants to hear that they have not been treated well.  The wound they have is real.  The savior they have is a real savior for real wounds.  In fact, the Greek word in the New Testament for ‘save’ is also ‘heal’.  He alone is the great physician.

Sometimes, he uses human hands, like psychologists or psychiatrists to treat ‘soul wounds’.  At other times, we can bear each other’s wounds and take them in ‘pair prayer’ to the Lord.  It might take a while to overcome, but it is only the Gospel of the Christ wounded for us that will heal those wounded by the world.  Starting over is only possible at the hands of the Re-creator, Jesus Christ.

This is the ministry of reconciliation.

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Psalm 19:1:

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Romans 1:20:

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

These verses would seem to imply that Scripture is not necessary to know God.  Additionally, it calls into question the need for church, not to mention the sacraments. In fact, any intermediary could be perceived as an obstacle to seeing God for who He is.

But, what is perceived about God?  His Glory, His eternal power, and His divine nature.  Can you and I find comfort in these things?  We might be awed by this creation, feeling very small and insignificant, but not comforted.

The God perceived in nature never leads us to Jesus.  It never leads us to a justifying God.  It never leads us to forgiveness.  For that matter, it never leads us to seeing our sins for what they are.

Where does one learn of these things?  Where does one find salvation from a Glorious, eternally powerful, divine God?  Only in the church where Christ is rightly proclaimed, where the law and Gospel are rightly divided, and where the sacraments are given for you.  Now, that’s Glorious!

Human Sacrifice

English: Aztec ritual human sacrifice portraye...

English: Aztec ritual human sacrifice portrayed in the page 141 (folio 70r) of the Codex Magliabechiano.. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I was watching a T.V. interview of a choreographer in London.  He created a show based on the concept of sacrifice.  He referenced the (almost) sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham in the Bible.

As the interview continued, the choreographer spoke about how everyone sacrifices.  We all have to make choices that inevitably involve ‘sacrificing’ one choice for another.

I started to think about people and how we sacrifice in our relationships.  I have seen divorces where one person just decided that they didn’t want to be married any longer so they could do what they wanted.  They sacrificed their spouse and especially, their children, to pursue their own pleasure.

Other people sacrifice themselves in their spousal relationships.  They subordinate their wills to such an extent that they no longer have an identity.  They are unhappy in their marriage, but unable or unwilling (or both) to assert themselves and establish healthy boundaries.

Of course, these are very negative examples.  There are countless others who sacrifice their lives, possessions or time for others.  They do this willingly and in the full awareness that they are doing it for the benefit of others.  They are not sublimating their wills in a sort of ‘martyred life’ syndrome.  They are choosing to give up what’s precious to them in a particular situation out of unconditional love for another.

This is what we see with soldiers.  One man or woman sees an impending threat to their comrades and willingly lays down their life in living (and dying) sacrifice.  Each one of these military sacrifices echo the unselfish sacrifice of God’s own Son.  Unlike Isaac, Jesus was actually sacrificed for those he loved.

He spent His whole life for one purpose; to be a Lamb without blemish.  For as important as all the words, actions, and miracles of Jesus are, His whole purpose in being born a man was to be executed as the fulness of sin.  God incarnate became sin incarnate.

And for this, the Father punished Him with the fulness of His wrath.  An eternal wrath.  A cauldron of fiery judgment reserved for … you and me.  He willingly laid down all that He is to rescue us from the dominion of sin, death and the Devil.

And God the Father, satiated with Christ’s sacrifice, has become the Father of all for whom Jesus died, making us brothers and sisters in Him.

Thanks be to God,

Amen

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