Sunday, April 15, 2012

Salvation is NOT a Mere Business Transaction

"What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.'"
-- Romans 4:1-3 (NASB)

In all of the world's false religions, a man's salvation is believed to be acquired by his good deeds. His works. In all of the world's false religions, eternal salvation is a simple business transaction. This might sound attractive to many people, which explains paganism's wide following. It sounds great to say: What you have to do to get to heaven is pray 5 times a day, read this book for 20 minutes a day, and go to this sacred place at least once in your life. If you do that, you're in!... Too bad sin has a much higher price than that in the real world. A price so high that it can only be forgiven by the blood of a perfect and sinless sacrifice. Jesus Christ. So how do we achieve the righteousness that Father Abraham possessed? Sola Fide. Through Faith Alone. Abraham had faith, and God credited it to him as righteousness. Abraham wasn't right in God's eyes because of the good works he did in his life. Good works can't take away sin. But Jesus can and did. And through Abraham's faith in the promised Messiah, he achieved that righteousness we all desire. The world needs to shake the idea that salvation is like a mere business transaction, that if we give God something, we'll get it. Salvation is a free gift won for us by Christ's death and resurrection. That's the Story and I'm stickin' to it.

-- Jonathan

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My Teacher! My Savior.

"Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?' Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, 'Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary!' She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, 'Rabboni!' (which means, Teacher)."
-- John 20:15-16 (NASB)

Easter... a day of celebration and thanksgiving. A day to remember what happened after Jesus' suffering and death... His resurrection. When Peter, John, and Mary saw the empty tomb on that Sunday morning, they thought someone had taken Jesus' dead body. No. He had risen. Jesus' followers didn't quite understand Jesus' prophesy about His own resurrection just yet. They thought he was gone for good. But with the word 'Mary!' uttered from the lips that never lied made Mary see the truth. 'Teacher!' she cried. 
When we are weeping, distraught beyond comprehension, or wrapped up in our own sinful flesh, this same Jesus says to us: 'Jonathan!' (or whatever your name may be), and we respond, 'Teacher! The only-begotten Son of God! The one who was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and made man! The one who was crucified for me under Pontius Pilate! And the one who on the third day rose again! Teacher! Alleluia!' And all is well.

-- Jonathan

Friday, April 6, 2012

Into Your Hands

"And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.' Having said this, He breathed His last."
-- Luke 23:46 (NASB)

Upon the cross on this holiest of Fridays, our Savior Jesus cried out His seventh and final word: "Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit." Most people think that "It is finished." was His final word, but in actuality it was His sixth. But with this final word, He gives up His Spirit to the Father. It is a phrase that sounds similar to what we say in Martin Luther's Morning and Evening Prayers: "Lord, into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things." With these words, we entrust our body and soul and all things to the Lord. We put them under His protection. But with Jesus' words, He gives up His Spirit. He knew it was finished and He chose to die... for us. And having said this, He hung His sacred head and breathed His final breath. The Passion narrative, while full of sorrow, simultaneously brings me great joy. It is because of what He did for me that I will one day inherit life eternal. And the best part about that is, I will be with the One who made life eternal possible, and gave it freely to me.

-- Jonathan

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The For You-ness of Maundy Thursday

"And He said to them, 'This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.'"
-- Mark 14:24 (NASB)

During the Thursday of this holiest of weeks, we remember Jesus' words of institution of the Holy Eucharist. In the upper room, our Savior gave His disciples His body and blood to eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins. This evening, many of us will partake in this same feast that brings life eternal to us. The part of this verse that hits home to me the most is when Jesus said that His blood is poured out for many. What good would it do if we believed that Christ poured out His blood on the cross of Calvary if we didn't recognize that it was for us. His body and blood was given and shed for us. And it is because of these two simple words that life eternal will be forever ours. So a blessed Maundy Thursday to all. Remember that going to church tonight it a "get to", not a "got to", and most of all, that it is for you.

-- Jonathan