October 19, 2017
(Click here to view the PDF of the October 19 Newsletter)
From the Pen of the Assistant Pastor of Discipleship…
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5.17
This Friday, Rebekah and I will be embarking on a two week trip through Switzerland and Germany to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. As we have been preaching through the five sola theme on Sunday mornings, the importance of both the Reformation and the need to be Reformed, has relevant implications in this day and age. Many Reformers bled and died for their desire to glorify and live out their faith in Christ Jesus alone. This makes it quite an exciting joy to celebrate and visit.
At the same time, our tour will spend significant time in Berlin, Germany; a city that led one of the most terrifying and brutalizing genocides in human history. If you have ever visited the Holocaust museum in Washington DC you are confronted with some of the vilest and wicked atrocities. This has given me pause to think about how these two dichotomous events in human history occurred at different periods but in the same area. Germany was fundamental with the formation of the Protestant Church and yet 400 or so years later it was the location of the formation of the Nazi regime. What do we do with such a contrast? If Germany was such a bastion of biblical grace and truth, how do we respond to what has taken place in our recent history?
First, like the Reformers, we need to build our lives around the fundamental truths of the Gospel as revealed in Scripture. These truths point us to the reality of our desperation and need of a triumphant Savior. Jesus describes this desperation in His Sermon the Mount in Matthew 5.3. He begins the Beatitudes with “blessed are the poor in spirit.” Jesus tells us that those who are blessed are those who are spiritually bankrupt. I would imagine that most of us would balk at the idea of wanting to be financially bankrupt or poor (without the “in spirit”). Why would being “poor in spirit” be to our advantage? Being poor in spirit makes us dependent upon the one who is rich in Spirit. When we take the posture of a receiver of grace then our hearts become satisfied with His provision. In this, our discontentment is no longer rooted in the pursuit of greatness or genetic purity. Instead it is reframed around the discontentment that those around us have not yet heard or submitted their lives to the King.
Second, like the Reformers, as we build our lives upon the Gospel, we look to God alone at work to enable our faithfulness. In Joshua 24.14, the tribes of Israel enter into a covenantal renewal. They hear the words of life from Joshua who tells them that they must fear (or reverentially awe) the Lord and serve him in sincerity and faithfulness – putting away the gods of Canaan and from Egypt. Joshua is telling Israel that their sincerity and faithfulness are derived from their disposition towards God. In other words, our actions to serve and follow Christ flow out of His work in us to enable us to fear Him.
Third and lastly, like the Reformers, we must trust in our God who is making all things new. He is beginning with us, His people, as the first fruits of that new creation. Our primary identity is no longer under the dominion of sin and death, it is now as a redeemed saint. This new creation enables us to understand and perceive our present day in light of the restoration of all things. We press on with faith, hope and love throughout our daily endeavors because one Day Christ will renew our world. Our hope is not in the success or failure of our daily lives. Our hope is in the name of the Lord, who will wipe every tear from our eyes.