Pastor's Pen 04/08/2021
- Published: 01 August 2021 01 August 2021
- Last Updated: 01 August 2021 01 August 2021
A Message from Pastor Hale
Non-believers have quite a bit of faith – in themselves. Those who seek meaning and purpose in life on their own terms, admit that they do not have any foundation – but wish to create their own. They live in their own sinful thoughts and ways. A way of thinking that does not leave room for God takes the place of revealed religion. For example: “Science can also guide one in making moral decisions. For example, understanding the environment is now a moral issue.”
In modern unbelief, the individual person becomes the center of and basis for all meaning: “I ... define myself by the way I feel. My life. My work. I am my feelings.” This is extremely shallow and reveals that there is nothing profound about godless belief. Salvation remains, but turns into earthly things like saving the climate or refugees, whatever seems most pressing right now. And the religious fervor about these is massive – a true religious cause.
The Bible teaches that we can imagine good morals with God, since the law is written on our heart, but we cannot do that good we know – we have not the power or ability, since our fall into sin. And the punishment of death marks all as failures before God’s holy law. What humanists who believe in themselves lack is mercy and forgiveness, since they are so full of themselves. They think: “Reality is sad; there’s no justice, peace or harmony in the world.” That is true, so relying on oneself is foolish, since our flesh is cursed, along with the world. But God’s Son Christ reveals the Father’s loving nature and brought about forgiveness for all humanity, which is now given in the Gospel. A religion based only on a sinful person, without anything greater to offer is doomed to destruction.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits” (James 1:5-11).
A Message from Pastor Hale
Saying things will be ok in this world gives false comfort. They have not been ok this year or in our lives, and will not be ok as long as sin, satan, and death have their way with us. There is nothing “ok” about death. It is never a benign fact – but rather it is divine punishment for sin. Maximizing pain and suffering to the extreme in mania and panic is the world’s reaction, at first. But this is no way to live for very long. So after emoting and throwing it reactionary fits, the world eventually thoroughly minimizes the tragedy of suffering, sickness, and death. Of course, we are expected to play along to the world’s tune of the day.
This is the uneven, manic way of the world – but denying the harshness of reality is a fool’s errand. Death has the last laugh here – always, as our truly mortal enemy. Sin, our guilt, and the death we face should ever remain before us as the biggest problems we face. Do not discount them, when they seem further away than they have in 2020. The prospect of death is not the problem – it is our reaction that deserves severe condemnation.
If we have been thinking as the world does, we have been unprepared for the threat of death and eager to place our trust in what cannot deliver us with certainty. False comforts are truly false gods. The wake-up call to repentance is ever before us. Our sin and guilt are never ok. They bring death. But do not turn to what will certainly be death in the end. More normalcy of sin, unholy pleasures, and doubt is not what we need. They are the problem, above all of them.
Healing cannot come from man’s thoughts or wisdom. Science – what we can glean from our vantage point in this world – is a beneficial tool in certain areas of life, sure, but its usefulness stops at this sinful world, the borders of time, and our untimely exits from this world. While there is much value in Christian company and the companionship of fellow saints, merely acknowledging and talking about our struggles does not heal them. We have no power over death and the guilty verdict it drives home most forcefully.
Hope is only in Christ who came in flesh to this world. There is no other hope than in this divine man who willingly took on death for us. He is light and life – we have no other source of hope. All others are darkness, just as we are stained with the guilt of Adam’s first sin. Christ’s coming is for us. His holy birth into this world was to make us new to God in securing forgiveness by the cross.
The Son of God did not need to descend from heaven. Things are really ok there. But we are lost in death and sin, going from wallowing in our disappointments to sugary and temporal false comforts. In our Lord, who took on our sin – the origin of death and cause for divine punishment – there is a way out. There is no true hope over death apart from Christ’s rising from the dead. In faith, we live beyond this world. We face many deathly images and constant threats, but we live above them in Christ, trusting in what is greater and eternal. Our suffering is but a breath; life is more than what we see right now. Joined to our Lord, we have overwhelming life in the midst of much death.
Yes, this life will have heavy burdens and monumental challenges, if we remain faithful to God’s call and purpose in this cursed body. But this life is temporary and fading out – it is not our home. “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:16). The eternal we are promised by Christ who suffered for us is not just ok, it is perfect and holy, just as our Father in heaven is. Our glory comes from above and lasts for all eternity, just as our Lord overcame death for us, by being raised on the third day. Sin is defeated. Sin, death, and satan try to convince us otherwise, but do not listen to them. They are not your god – Jesus is true God and your savior from all your enemies. Believe they are defeated – they no longer have power over you. Be dead to what is not from your God, living in Christ’s death through your baptism.
In this miscarriage of a year, fear not. All enemies are dead and defeated in Christ. The Holy Spirit gives us strength and living hope by the power of Christ’s Word, which delivers an eternal victory. Christ still offers all of His divine grace and mercy, forgiving those who turn from the world’s idols. It is not too late to have full healing – the glory to be revealed when our Lord shows Himself with unhidden majesty at the Last Day.
Heaven is not ok for us, it is magnificent. So we live in hope, expecting and waiting for better. “In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Ps. 56:11). Trust in Jesus, to have Him is to have life. He who has granted us eternal peace with God and rescued us from death will by no means forget us in our suffering. Jesus is our life and our healing. Amen.