Posts

"Don't Be Afraid!" A Sermon for Easter Morning

Image
This is a few weeks late, but I thought it might be worth posting anyway. --REW

The Resurrection of our Lord

And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. -Mark 16:8, ESV

What a strange text we have this morning! Here the Marys and Salome had gone to the tomb, mourning for a dead Lord, and expecting to complete the sad task of embalming Him. Instead, they found the stone at the tomb’s entrance rolled away, and an angel sitting next to it- with the incredible news that the One they mourned was alive!

“Go!” the angel said. “Tell His disciples. Tell Peter. He is not here. He is risen!” So did they go and do as they had been told? No. They didn't tell anybody. It's not that they were overcome with joy that Jesus wasn’t dead anymore. It seems that they're afraid.

Now, it’s a very human thing to be afraid. We live in a universe over which we have even less control than we tell oursel…

How we know that God doesn't speak to us through emotions

Image
The issue isn't whether God CAN speak to us through emotions. He's God. He can do anything He wants. The issue is that, first, He hasn't promised to, and secondly, that since He is not the Author of confusion, it's a pretty safe bet that He won't!

God has simply not promised to speak to us authoritatively anywhere but in the Word. If we look for Him to speak to us through our emotions we are putting our emotions on the same level of authority as His Word. Since our emotions are, by definition, how WE react neurochemically to what happens in our lives, that amounts to equating to putting our own, often unacknowledged wishes and desires on the same level as the Bible!

Our emotions are fickle, unreliable, and everything God and His Word are not. And we just aren't up to the task of stepping into God' shoes and investing our own desires and inclinations with divine authority.

 Obviously, God wants us to respond to others with kindness and compassion. But we do…

Surely

Image
Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that bef…

Pastor Borghardt explains the unpardonable sin

Image
It really makes sense, if you think it through: only by the testimony of the Holy Spirit to Jesus can we believe. In the last analysis, what Jesus is talking about when He speaks of the one unpardonable sin is final unbelief. It's unforgivable not because God is unwilling to forgive it, but because the person who commits it refuses to be forgiven the only way such a thing is possible- through faith in Jesus, enabled by the Spirit Who always bears witness to Jesus, and never to Himself.

Remember, I said final unbelief. One thing that Pastor B. doesn't say that should be emphasized is that Paul and C.S. Lewis and many other great Christians rejected Jesus at one time. Having done so at some previous time is not the unpardonable sin! The unpardonable sin is the persistent and determined rejection of the testimony of the Holy Spirit to Jesus which hardens a heart against Him. Testifying to Jesus and bringing about faith in Him is, after all, the Holy Spirit's main work.


A matter of simple logic.

Image
Are you saved? It's the devil's job to create doubt about that. It's the Holy Spirit's to convince you that if you believe in Jesus, you are saved. After all, despite all the teachings and preachings of the doubt-mongers, that's what Jesus taught.

But do you believe in Jesus? Do you really and sincerely believe in Jesus? Give me a break. Where do you see all those adjectives in the New Testament?  I'm not even going to get into the question of whether you believe in Jesus enough because there is no "enough." Any faith in Jesus at all saves. And you're no more justified how well you believe than by how well you do anything else.

Salvation isn't about you. It's about Jesus. It isn't about what do. It's about what He has done.

But the fact remains that if we do what OCD tells us to do- to look inside ourselves to discover whether or not we believe- we will never find assurance there. The strongest faith is mixed with doubt. That'…

Jesus is the very opposite of "out to get you!"

Image
In fact, I don't know how much more opposite His reason for coming could be!

As Jesus tells us in John 3, He came into the world not to condemn the world, but to save it. Folks with scrupulosity often act as if God were looking for an excuse to send us to hell on a technicality. Probably bad horror fiction plays a role in that delusion, as well as sick, sub-Christian religion. But the real God because a human being just like you precisely to keep you out of hell. He lived those thirty-odd years on this planet for you. He volunteered to suffer the punishment you had coming for your sins. He literally went through hell to keep you out of it!

I won't go into the Christological and sacramental misunderstandings which cause many Protestants to dislike the crucifix. other than to say that it's strange that they forget that the same God Who forbade worshipping graven images also commanded Moses to construct two metal cherubim to sit on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant. And t…

Extra nos

Image
The Reformers emphasized that in times of doubt and fear one should not look inward at the uncertainty of one's own heart or despair at the darkness of one's own soul, but rather outside of ourselves- "extra nos-" to Christ.

I highly recommend Edward Gene Veith's  The Spirituality of the Cross,which ought to be subtitled, "Christianity 101."