A Message from Pastor Hale

A Message from Pastor Hale

This is a historical statement: “Christ is risen.” What makes it meaningful and applicable to us today? This fact must be connected to you. The Lord offered Himself as your sin offering to bring you into His kingdom. Since we cannot preach the Gospel to ourselves, God chooses men to do it. Paul lays the foundation for our hope in 1 Cor. 15: Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain.

Jesus died and rose. The unbeliever and the demons derive no hope from this true fact, but know it. But this man’s death was actually God’s Son being punished by the Father. He took  all the anger we deserve upon Himself to save us. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. He died our death and rose, declaring all the world forgiven.

Christians are not just historians or history buffs. They see their sins as paid for with the blood of Jesus. This blood is not like ours. Ours is not worth anything to God. Our suffering cannot buy us extra credit with the Father. But Christ’s blood offset the balance of the world’s sins.

We stand with confidence due to Christ’s resurrection. It is God’s check-mark that all was accomplished. Your salvation is a certainty because Jesus, who died for you, lives. The application of Christ’s righteousness is by faith. Trust in this fact and see yourself dead to sin and alive to God. This how you stand before God.

But we don’t stand firm, do we? We fear bad news and expect the worst. Don’t we think we should expect evil, if blessings have been showered on us? That is looking to God apart from Christ. Repent of your fear of failure – Christ is not dead, so do not pretend He is. We doubt His goodness, because we are sinners who do not consider God any more gracious than we are. But don’t our works and secret thoughts judge us as unkind, inhospitable, and sinful? No one has any leg to stand on, apart from Christ’s death and resurrection. All else is talk.

The Gospel connects you to Christ and strengthens your faith. W hether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. You are preached sinful and confronted with your evil deeds of the heart. This is done to then apply Christ’s righteousness to you. We are torn from our own righteousness and made sinners, to be adopted as God’s beloved children. We do not need encouragement or atta-boys, we need to be remade and renewed by the Spirit. The preached Word is the means by which this happens, not our prayers or own efforts. God Himself must make us alive, just as He will re-piece back together our bodies in the grave to glory. God will do it through His almighty Word.

Cross SunburstThere is no need to fear anything in this world. Christ is risen, and you are free from sins and the curse of the law. No one may judge you, Christ rose declaring you guiltless. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. The world wants to enslave you, to get you to struggle and try to earn grace. But it is found only in trusting Jesus. He is the gate for the sheep, any other way is for thieves and robbers. We live in Christ and His life is ours.

You are justified before God. Nothing you have done will be considered by Him. All doubts and fears and sins have been drowned in Baptism. Nothing will cling to you beyond this world. You will stand before Him physically on the last day to receive your inheritance. Nothing now that frightens you will come between you and your God. Not even death held Christ, and it cannot hold you. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Sleep waits for you, so stand in confidence that all your enemies are defeated. Christ is risen for you.

The temptation is to rely on the fact we are saved and take for granted Christ. Satan likes an earthly gospel that causes us to fall asleep and not consider Christ. But salvation is not yet a completed fact until we are in eternal glory. Here on this earth, those who fall away are under the wrath of God for sin. To not believe the Gospel is to reject Christ and be dead in sins. Relying on your past works and accomplishments puts you in danger of this. Many reject Christ by an unbelieving heart during suffering or busyness with the cares of this world. Turn from your wayward heart, it is not too late. Christ did not free you to sin, but to serve one another in love. You have plenty of opportunity to exercise your faith and rely on God’s mercy. We are not called to escape to freedom, but to suffer in humility like Christ did.

We stand only by virtue of the Resurrection. Before the end, it will appear Christ is not risen. People will curse Christ and grow cold, rejecting the truth for comfortable fairy-tales. But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations (Mark 13:9-10). All that happens relates back to the Gospel, so people can make Christ their own. This word of hope delivers from our sins. It is the only true strength in this world. Resist the gates of hell, because you are

in the holy Church which enjoys God’s kingdom. This Word of Hope brings all of God’s love, so that you can endure all heartache and suffering. Look to Christ who is alive, and He will support you.

If Christ died, what will He not do for you? Do not doubt His goodness, He merely wants you to be strong and stand with Him for all time. So we must stand against sickness, loneliness, and all doubts with the Word. If we hold onto anything else, we are weak and sitting in Satan’s lap.

Christ is risen. Every day we return to Christ’s victory and believe He has won us life. Ignore all the evil you see, it will not bother you much longer. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries (Psalm 112:6-8). In Christ you are new and without sin. You are covered and lack no good thing. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved (Mark 13:13).

Things are not improving here, but the Word which saves is still going out. We cling to Christ and His doctrine, knowing nothing can defeat Him. And He stands by us, giving us faith which receives His favor. Your thirst for righteousness can be filled here. Stand firm in the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved. Amen.

Rev. Philip W. Hale is a pastor of  Zion Lutheran Church in Omaha, NE.