“We Have Met the Enemy…”

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“…many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them,… for He Himself knew what was in man.”
                        John 2:24
  
 
 Now that much of the western world has cast off the moorings of the Christian faith with it’s perceived superstitions and oppressions, one keeps waiting for the flowering of the enlightened post-Christian world; a world where the generosity of reason and the promises of science usher in a utopia of justice, peace, tolerance and inclusivity. Don’t hold your breath.
In a sermon delivered to his congregation in Stuttgart, Germany, just a couple of weeks prior to the end of World war II, the eminent pastor and theologian Helmut Thielicke wrote, “In these fearful, fateful weeks many people appear to have become alienated from their faith in God; they begin to ask how he can “permit” such things to happen. It would be better, however, if they were alienated from
their faith in men. It would be better if they were disabused of their fanciful faith in progress and stopped talking so emotionally and sentimentally about the “nobility of man.”
These are hard words, as are the words from John’s gospel. Hard they may be but they are the truth.
 
The myriad problems of the world can be traced to the corruption of the human heart. That’s the bottom line. The world is perpetually prone to injustice because we are unjust. It is prone to dishonesty because we are dishonest.
 
Twenty centuries ago God made an appearance here in the flesh and blood of Jesus. He healed the sick and spoke words of life in the midst of death. People seemed to be duly impressed but Jesus was not buying it. The text above from the Gospel of John is about as clear an assessment as you will find in the entire Bible of God’s evaluation of the “essential goodness” of man. Jesus would not entrust the future of His mission to the likes of us – no way, no how.
Look at what we did to Him.
 
This offends us, of course. It may offend you. We cling to our rosy self-assessments, blaming others and God for the myriad plights of the world, because to do otherwise would be to face not the evils that are in the world but the evils that are in me, and their serious implications, dire consequences and a judgment too terrible to contemplate.
 
You see, no matter how positively we spin our own self-assessments, God thinks otherwise. The Bible proclaims to us that God has placed His curse upon sin. “The soul that sins shall die”, “The wages of sin is death.” There is no future in man.
Therefore, no one one can appreciate the meaning of Jesus apart from the meaning of sin; not sin in the abstract but my sin and your sin. If Christ is to be our Savior, we must know from what we must be saved: our own sickness unto death. On the cross God showed His love for sinners by dying for us.
 
I did not make an assessment of Jesus and decide He was worth believing in. Jesus has freed me as a gift by His sheer grace and mercy.
 
 
 Luther said it well in the Small Catechism:
“At great cost He has saved and redeemed
me, a lost and condemned creature. He has
freed me not with silver of gold, but with His
holy and precious blood and His innocent
sufferings and death. All this he has done that
I might be His own…”.

 

This freedom won by Christ is the assurance of the Christian. It is an assurance not found in life insurance policies, investment portfolios or a mindless confidence in the perfectibility of man. The assurance of salvation and a real future comes through the forgiveness of sins that is God’s gift to us in Christ.
 Christ alone is my assurance because I am a sinner, and I
 pray He is yours also.
                                                                   – Pastor Mark Anderson
 
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5 Responses

  1. Hey,
    I have been listening to your pastor’s sermons and all I can say is wow. Your pastor is one of a few who are preaching the Gospel. It is so convicting and so sweet. Christianity really is the greatest paradox huh?

  2. Robin,

    It truly is a paradox. It’s so sad, and yet so wonderful.

    Where else are we to go?

    No where, that I can see.

  3. The words that stick out to me were spoken by Thielicke: “It would be better, however, if they were alienated from their faith in men.” One has to wonder if we will ever come to that point. Those are wise words. Scary isn’t it how close “our America” had come to Nazi Germany in its religious indifference.

  4. God’s assessment of my sin is thorough and humbling, but yet I’m also reminded that when he looks at me he sees a remnant of his image. So in one way, we’re very valued. Keeping both sides of that in mind is simply just mind-blowing.

  5. Amen, Loren!

    Even better than a remnant of His image, He sees His Son, Jesus. He clothes us in Jesus’ robe.

    Galatians 6 “Those of you who have been baptized have put on Christ.”

    Yes indeed. It is mind-blowing.

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