Pastor Mark’s sermon for the 5th Sunday in Easter, “Need Love” vs. “Gift Love” :
Thank you, Pastor Mark.
And thanks to flickr and lentes bravo, for the photo.
Sermon for the 3rd Sunday in Easter:
Thank you, Brian Seaman, for delivering this sermon in the absence of Pastor Mark.
Thanks to flickr and Waiting For The Word, for the photo.
I know some really nice folks, many of whom are Christians. But some of them tell me that they are working on some project, such as not eating or drinking certain things. Or not doing certain activities, which will then bring them “closer to God”.
There is a great focus in their places of worship on ‘what we do’, or ‘what we ought not do’. No matter how much gospel they receive, the message always seems to get back to them, and what they should, ought, or must be doing to achieve a closer relationship with God.
They lack an understanding of the true nature of the human being. They lack the understanding that we are ‘bound to sin’. They have the opposite and false assumption that we have “free-will” when it comes to matters of faith. And they lack an understanding about God’s real presence in the external Word and sacraments. No real presence of Christ in Baptism and Holy Communion, then it will inevitably all turn back onto you, and what ‘you do’, or ‘don’t do’. There is no relying on Christ’s finished work. There is no assurance. There is no freedom.
In essence these folks, God bless them, may as well be Roman Catholics (some are). For in the end, Christ’s work on the Cross is good, and nice, and a great example, but there still remains some things that I ”need to do’, as well.
We say, NO!
NO to the proposition that we need to add something to His Cross. NO to the chorus of well-meaning Christians who would put us on the ladder up to God, also. NO to those folks who believe that we carry within ourselves some spark of goodness that just needs to be set in motion to get us onto the proper path of sanctification. NO to the belief that Christ is waiting for us to do our part.
But we do say, ‘YES’!
Yes that Christ is our All in all. Yes that Jesus loves the ungodly, the kind of ungodly that we know we are. Yes that everything needful for our justification and sanctification has been done, is being done, and will yet be done…by our Lord, Jesus.
And YES, that this free gift is given without any strings attached for ALL people. That they might hear, and by God’s grace believe that this is true.
God’s Word to us, is YES! Lord have mercy on me a sinner. And the Lord says,” YES…I will.”
Thanks to flickr and Thomas Hawk and erix!, for the photos.
What does this mean?
Pastor Mark unpacks this verse and quite a bit comes out of it.
Thank you, Pastor Mark.
And thanks to flickr and returntogodsgarden, for the photo.
|United Arab Emirates||12|
|Republic of Korea||11|
|Trinidad and Tobago||6|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||6|
|Libyan Arab Jamahiriya||2|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||2|
|Falkland Islands (Malvinas)||1|
|United Republic of Tanzania||1|
I have no idea where ‘AP’ is…unless it’s the news gathering organization.
 That is to say, how can the finite world contain the infinite God? The God, who is infinite and above all, who makes everything out of nothing, has become an individual, a male who lived between 4 B.C. and 30 A.D. in a place called Palestine and died on a cross. This is the scandal of particularity. We can only look at this in awe and wonder. It’s like in the book of Job, chapters 38-42, where God says to Job, “Where were you when I created the foundations of the earth?” God is the One who has done all this. Who are you, lowly man, to claim that you understand and that you had a part in what this is all about?
 That the one who is holy would take on sin is far different and far more astounding than that the infinite would become part of the finite. We have that verse that Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin that in Him we might become the holiness of God.” He took our sin, we take his holiness.
The cross is more than the central symbol of Christianity; it is the starting point, the fulcrum, for all that is said about sin and salvation. The cross itself defines what sin is and what salvation is.
On the cross the last judgment has taken place. This is to say: The Lord God himself saw that we had a problem called sin, death, and the devil. He handled it his way on the cross. And it is finished (John 19:30).
 A 2005 CrossAlone District summary statement of “the scandal of the cross.”
 Often loosely associated with the slogan finitum capax infiniti.
 Rudolf Otto’s The Idea of the Holy (1917) takes up an entirely different conceptuality.
Thank you, CrossAlone Lutheran District.
As a theologian of the cross, we take these things with a grain of salt…but we still take them…and enjoy them. I’ve been a King’s fan for over 40 years and this was a long time in coming.
It seems that way for believers, also. It seems as though the Kingdom (no pun intended) will never arrive. We have many losing seasons. Life doesn’t work out the way we had hoped. But in Christ Jesus the Victory is assured. He has done it. “It is finished”.
And when He raises us from the dead for the last time, the celebration won’t just last a few days culminating with a parade downtown…but it will last forever. We will finally be made whole and complete and live eternally in Heavenly bliss with the One who gave it to us as a free gift. Nothing to do but enjoy it (Him) and live in eternal gratitude and peace and joy.
Seems like a pipe-dream to many. Seems foolish to many.
That the LA Kings could win the Stanley Cup seemed that way, too. And God wasn’t even involved with that. (maybe He was…just so the Devil(s) could be defeated…again )
From Pastor Mark’s blog http://www.lightofthemaster.com/apps/blog
“The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners.”
March 16, 2012
Who am I? This most basic of questions demands a response and every human being makes one. Humans answer this question largely by determining their own identity: I am who I choose to be. Yet our insistence on taking life into our own hands is easily distorted and becomes defining of what the Scriptures call ‘sin’ – that willful insistence on resolving every issue down to what I want.
The culture says that we are bundles of largely unrealized wonderfulness only inhibited by the myriad injustices foisted on us by others (who are, apparently, not so wonderful).
The Bible reveals God’s assessment of the human to us. The defining word regarding what it means to be human does not rightly derive from us but the One who created us…from God. And God says we are willful sinners, deserving of His wrath, in need of repentance and forgiveness. Small wonder humans flee from this God of wrath for all they are worth, preferring to “re-imagine” God in kinder, gentler forms.
If, however, there is no need to talk about the wrath of God, then there is not much need to talk about the sin that incurs the wrath. But this avoidance is no answer to the real problem of sin and all it’s consequences.
Christianity is incoherent without the idea of sin. There can be no good news of the Gospel without first understanding the bad news of sin. The mission of Jesus makes no sense if we remove such concepts from our thinking.
Jesus made it clear that the reason he came to earth was to save sinners: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners”. Take away the doctrine of sin and we take away the doctrine of the Incarnation. Indeed, we take away the entire message of the New Testament.
Because we are born in the darkness of sin, we assume our blindness to be life in the light. But Christ has come to give us the new birth that we might walk in the “true light”, Christ Himself. When we persist in our self-defining intransigence, we remain in our sins. When Christ opens our eyes by His amazing grace, we see ourselves as God sees us…as sinners in need of His merciful love and forgiveness.