Meditations in St. John’s First Epistle
“And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He is revealed we may have confidence, and not be shamed from Him in His coming.” 1 John 2:28
How can one face death or the day of Christ’s return without fear and terror over God’s judgment? How can one have confidence in that Day? John provides the answer when he writes: “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He is revealed we may have confidence, and not be shamed from Him in His coming.”
If God were to keep our sins before Him and hold them against us, who could stand? But, for the sake of Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice, God is merciful and forgiving toward us. There is forgiveness with Him (cf. Psalm 130:3-4).
The only way to face God’s judgment, the only way to stand when Jesus comes back to judge the living and the dead, is to be found trusting in Messiah Jesus and His mercy which he won for us and all mankind by His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross.
Those not trusting in His blood shed for the sins of the world will be put to shame, humiliated and condemned, on that Day. But those who abide in Him will not be condemned but received into everlasting life.
Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the one who hears My word, and believes the One who has sent Me, has everlasting life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24).
To Nicodemus, Jesus said, “The one believing into Him [the Son of God] is not condemned; but the one not believing has already been condemned, for he has not believed into the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).
Through faith in Jesus, our crucified and risen Savior, we can have confidence at His coming!
O Holy Spirit, keep me trusting in Christ Jesus and His blood shed for me upon the cross, that I may not be ashamed and condemned on the Day of His judgment but be received into His everlasting kingdom. Amen.
A Simple Explanation of Christian Doctrine
By Pastor Randy Moll
What does it mean to repent, or be converted?
To repent or be converted is, simply put, to turn from one’s sinful and rebellious ways to God for mercy and forgiveness for the sake of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ – God the Son and true man. Repentance and conversion are entirely the gracious working of God in us, for His Spirit convicts us of our sinful ways and shows to us the condemnation we justly deserve (cf. John 16:7-11) but also offers and gives to us comfort and forgiveness for the sake of the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of Messiah Jesus in our stead (Matt. 9:2; 1 John 2:1-2; Eph. 1:3ff.).
The Bible tells us that “we also once were senseless, disobedient, led astray, slaving for various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works in righteousness which we had done, but according to His mercy, He saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ, our Savior; that being justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).
Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus: “He worked in you who were once dead in trespasses and sins, in which you then walked according to the course of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience, among whom we also all conducted ourselves in times past in the lusts of our flesh, doing the things willed of the flesh and of the understandings, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even we being dead in sins, He made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are being saved), and raised us up together and seated us together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, that He might show in the coming ages the exceeding great riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, that not anyone should boast; for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God before prepared that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:1-10).
A true Christian lives his life here in this world in continual and daily repentance; that is, he acknowledges his sins and failures to the LORD God and receives His mercy and forgiveness for Christ’s sake – as well as the needed help and strength to amend his life and live for the LORD (1 John 1:8 – 2:2; Psalm 32; Psalm 51; Psalm 86:5; Ephesians 1:15-23; Philippians 4:13).
Next time, we shall look at what the Bible teaches about good works.
The pain of being a pastor
One of the hardest things for a pastor who deeply loves his parishioners is to watch as some of them stray far from their Maker and live in rebellion against Him.
One looks for a glimmer of light or something beside empty words to indicate that they do know the LORD God who created this world and redeemed all of us through the death of the Son, Messiah Jesus; but sometimes little hope can be seen. They may profess to know with their lips, but their lives offer little evidence that they know the LORD or have any desire to walk in His ways. No, this doesn’t mean they’re criminals or living wild and crazy lives – at least not that a pastor might know – but the desire to hear God’s Word and walk in God’s ways is not evident.
Of course, the gracious working of God’s Spirit is beyond our view and understanding. We know He works through His Word and Sacraments, but we don’t know His timing and can’t actually see Him at work – only the results. “The Spirit breathes where He desires, and you hear His voice; but you do not know from where He comes, and where He goes; so is everyone who has received birth from the Spirit” (John 3:8).
To attempt to pressure or force people to follow the LORD will do no good. In fact, if they were in some way coerced into attending church services and Bible studies, it could make things worse. They might become secure in their lack of faith and confident that all is well with their souls when, in fact, it is not.
The same is true of seeking a “revival” of sorts through some emotional experience. They could become confident in some decision they made in an emotional or moving moment rather than simply taking hold of Christ and His all-atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world – a sacrifice for sin which is efficacious at all times, regardless of human emotion.
All I can do is remind my parishioners of the truth revealed in God’s Word and pray God’s Spirit continues His gracious working, that He rekindles the ember which is about to go out, that He draws the wandering and straying into His Word and brings them to know and trust Jesus as the Savior of their souls.
(Note: This is also often true of parents in regard to their children.)
Bible Study in Preparation for Sunday
Scripture Readings for Sunday are: Psalm 30; Lamentations 3:21-36; Romans 1:1-32; and Mark 5:21-43. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship on Sunday.
The Sunday Adult Bible Class will continue its study of the book of Hebrews, in chapter 12, verse 12ff.
Remember to Pray
Remember to pray for our church and for all our members, that none be lost to Christ’s kingdom but that all continue in repentance and be strengthened and built up in the true and saving faith in Christ Jesus through the hearing and study of His Word. We continue to pray for all who have been sick or who are suffering among us – for Sam Rusch who was hospitalized and for Mel Boren who is in a nursing home; for our extended families; and for believers who are alone and have no congregation. Continue to pray for Lutheran congregations and believers around the world who are persecuted or suffering for their faith in Christ Jesus.
Events and Announcements
A pot-luck dinner will be held following our worship service on Sunday. All are welcome and invited to join us.
Ray and Bonnie Hawes offer their thanks to all who helped with the meal and preparations for their 60th wedding anniversary celebration earlier this month.
Information for bulletins or newsletters may be sent to Pastor Moll by calling him at 479-233-0081 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scripture quotations are from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.