Posts Tagged ‘Judgment’

A Facebook friend posted this video which shows a man being struck by lightening twice and lives.  At the hospital he told the doctors that he was planning to rob the couple ahead of him:

The video surely portrays the way I want the Lord to act regarding sinners:  nothing that a couple bolts of lightening won’t cure!  But the Lord’s lightening is mostly in the heart, soul and mind of man (Hebrews 4:12).  In a confirmation class,  I gave an example of sin, especially in regards to the 8th commandment:  if you were talking about someone else behind their back, and you were found out, how would you feel?  A girl in my class, looked down and said in a low voice, “I’d be dead” (The girl happens to be my daughter!).  Yes, God’s Law is lightening, burning the soul and that electricity which  does not go out the soles of the feet.  Yes, I’d be dead.  Sin is death. But that is the Lord has another Word by which He took all the lightening of the Law into Himself upon the Cross, as illustrated in this photo of Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 

The Law will blindingly show us our sin (see Saul on the Road to Damascus:  see Acts 9) and upon the Cross

“…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.”  (Isaiah 53:  5)

We hope the man so struck was struck into repentance and either return or come to faith in the One who was crushed for us all.  He is risen and Baptism into Christ goes into the very the soles of the feet washing us clean.

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From Pastor and Professor Johann Gerhard’s Sermon on St. Matthew 25:  31-46, especially:  34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?”:  

A true Christian should be diligent in this with a humble heart, not seeking honor, fame, or reward. We see here that the elect themselves do not consider their works to be worthy of the superabundant reward they will receive. They did these works gladly with willing, humble hearts in ardent love. It is their nature to do good; they do not let the left hand know the good the right hand has done (Mat. 6:3). Thus, it is written in Revelation 4:10 that the elect will throw down their crowns “before the throne of the lamb” in true humbleness and say, “Lord, you are worthy to receive praise, honor, and power”;  that is, we are unworthy and our works do not deserve to bear such;  but the Lord has made us worthy and has given us these crowns out of mercy.

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This is the eve of the Triduum, the Three Days:  Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, or the Great Sabbath. It was on this day that Judas made his arrangements with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and at the last  Passover meal on Thursday Judas left the Passover meal in order  to complete the betrayal (John 13:25-27).  Leonardo Davinci’s famed painting, The Last Supper is the portrayal of the moment at the last Passover meal in which Jesus announces that one of the disciples will be a traitor and they ask, Is it I?  Dr. Paul Kretzmann in his Popular Commentary on the Bible has to this to say about the events of Spy Wednesday:

He would give a morsel (of bread) which He was’ just then dipping into the sauce (charoseth) , which was one of the dishes of the Passover meal. And suiting His action to His word, Jesus took the sop which He was just then dipping and gave it to Judas Iscariot. This incident revealed the traitor to John, and probably also to Peter. But as for the rest, it is probable that most of them did not notice the incident at the time, or did not attach any importance to it. For the entire matter was taken care of so quietly, almost secretly, that it attracted no attention from the rest of the table-round. Then, also, Judas dipped into the sauce at the same time that Jesus did, Mark 14, 20. He, of course, knew to whom Jesus had reference, but he was brazenfaced enough even to ask Jesus whether it was he that would perform the dastardly deed of betraying the Master, Matt. 26, 25.

…In all His dealings with Judas, in all the warnings which the Lord sounded, He still had the object of winning him from his way of sin and damnation, if possible. But in this crisis Judas decided the wrong way, he rejected the admonition of the Lord. After he had received the sop, the devil entered into him, took complete possession of his heart and mind, hardened both against the influence of Jesus, and forced Judas to do his will. That is the final result of yielding to evil influence in the first place; the ability to turn to good is lost. and in the crisis the devil steps in and takes hold of such a person as his own property. Now Jesus distinctly, so that all the disciples could hear it, told Judas to do as quickly as possible what he had in mind, what he intended to do. The traitor was not directing the turn of events, for this was altogether in the hands of Jesus; he was the devil’s tool, but his devilish work resulted in the serving of God’s plans. The fate of Judas was hereby decided; his heart was hardened; he was deserted by God forever: forever given into the will and submission of the devil. That is the terrible judgment which finally strikes the backslider, the apostate that denies the accepted truth: he is the tool and instrument of the devil to work his will, to commit one sin after the other, and finally to end in everlasting damnation

…Immediately after Judas had received the sop at the hand of Jesus and had heard the remark which accompanied the action, he left the room. It was now about the time of the evening when twilight gave way to complete darkness, when night fell, about seven o’clock or somewhat later at that time of the year. Judas belonged to those that hate the light, that prefer the cover of darkness for their deeds. For that purpose he had left the upper room. There was night in him, and there was night about him; he was a child of darkness and damnation.

Lord, by Your mercy, dispel the night and darkness in my soul in true repentance for all the wrong I have done.  Keep my feet steady in Your Word of grace and mercy through Your blood shed for me.  In Jesus Name.  Amen. 

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For those who were in college and/or adults during Watergate, Charles “Chuck” Colson was a name synonomous with the lust of power leading to criminal acts.  Below is the obituary from the National Review.  I was pleased by the fact that  the writer included a Scripture verse, St. John 15: 19,  from the upcoming Sunday’s Gospel reading John 15: 9-17. I think it is appropriately cited.  I include this obit to note the passing a witness to Jesus Christ.  I also include this obit because it encapsulates the way the Lord works through His Word:  Law and Gospel.  I comment on that after the obit.

Ernest Hemingway, Mad Men, the Nixon White House: A style of post-war macho bluster found its final form in the Watergate tapes. One of the main blusterers was Charles Colson, counsel to the president from 1969 to 1973. “When I complained to Colson,” wrote Nixon in his memoirs, “I felt confident that something would be done. I was rarely disappointed.” After Colson was charged with approving the break-in of Daniel Ellsberg’s office, a friend gave him a copy of Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis, and read aloud a passage saying that pride “is the complete anti-God state of mind.” From standing at the right hand of a president, he fell before the King of King   who took him, just as He said He would. Colson’s time in jail opened his eyes to the suffering of other convicted criminals, and he devoted himself to Prison Fellowship Ministries, which now has programs in 1,300 prisons nationwide. In Christian theology, election refers to God’s saving grace: “I have chosen you,and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit.” Colson won the election of his life. Dead at 80. R.I.P

Reflection:  The sequence is important in this obituary as it is in the life of every Christian:  Law, then promise, or Gospel.  Mr. Colson found himself charged for a criminal act of great import in the life of our nation…a nation, by the way, conceived in liberty and freedom from government to perpetuate criminal acts against its citizens or intervene in our first amendment rights.  Mr. Colson read that pride is the “complete anti-God state of mind”. Yes.  This was the Law convicting Mr. Colson.  “Pride goes before destruction,and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18  Like David after his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, Mr. Colson was cut to the quick:  see Hebrews 4:11-13   His repentance was true because immediately he heard of Jesus  Christ:  “…he fell before the King of King   who took him, just as He said He would.”  And that is called, grace, always preceded by God’s judgment.  Mr. Colson was found out by the Lord and the Lord found him.  He won the election of his life:  the Lord voted to save him in his anti-God state of life upon the Cross.  You as well. The Lord’s vote is the only that counts in His election and it is His forgiveness.  In Christ, Mr. Colson bore fruit:  the salvation of many through in ministry to prisoners.  Your fruitfulness may not make the papers but it will give hope to those around you.  In His grace it will be His love as He first loved us.

Merciful Lord, cleanse and defend Your Church by the sacrifice of Christ.  United with Him in Holy Baptism, give us grace to receive with thanksgiving the fruits of His redeeming work and daily follow in HIs way, through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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There is an old saying in congregational and church life:  “Do things twice in a row and it’s a tradition!”  We regard tradition as almost sacred, even among Protestants.  Tradition gains the patina of divine.  There is only one yardstick to see if our man-made traditions are acceptable:  the Bible.  Advent wreathes are not necessary but they do serve a teaching purpose and teaching the truths of God’s Word is always important.  The teaching here?  The Lord entered time as Emmanuel, literally, God with us.  The wreath is a circle and circles have no beginning or end as the Lord God, yet 4 candles, again the Ancient of Days was born an infant entering real-time, the mean time.

Now one of the questions I have fielded is, What do the 4 candles mean?  I answered:  There is nothing in the Bible about it as there is nothing about Advent wreathes. The fellow member questioning me dogmatically stated they stand for…I forgot the answer.  The usual interpretations usually goes this route:  they signify Hope, Preparation, Joy, and Love, or something like that.  On another blog, a Roman Catholic priest, looking at the superficial slappy-happy, sentimental time that Advent/Christmas has become, suggested that the candles should stand for Death, Judgment, Hell, and Heaven!  The last things.  When we look at the lessons, and as indicated on an earlier posting here on John the Baptizer, the priest is not far off the mark.  Pr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book, The Cost of Discipleship, written in the ’30s in Nazi Germany, commented on the beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4) and he observed:

“By “mourning” Jesus, of course, means doing without what the world calls peace and prosperity:  he means refusing to being tune with the world or accommodate oneself to its standards.  Such men mourn for the world, for its guilt, its fate and is fortune. While the world keeps holiday they stand aside, and while the world sings, ‘Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,” they mourn.  They see that for all the jollity on board, the ship is beginning to sink.  The world dreams of progress, of power and of the future, but the disciples mediate on the end, the last judgement, and the coming of the kingdom.  To such heights the world cannot rise.”

But why can the Lord’s disciples so mourn?  They have already accepted the just sentence of God’s righteous judgment on their own guilt.  Repentance does not mean feeling really bad about a bad habit or two, but accepting the just verdict is as the thief on the cross repented and accepted the just judgment of God in His Law (see Luke 23:38-40).  “Proper repentance is not a sorrow or a terror or a vow to change, so that we can escape the divine death sentence. Proper repentance is to accept the rightness of the death sentence and to submit to it; to submit to being put to death under the law. And without the real Gospel that is never done.” (Pr. Louis Smith)  The Law kills us.  The Gospel makes us alive through the working of the Holy Spirit.  We must contemplate Death, Judgment, Hell and then, and only then is heaven, the Kingdom come utterly good in the hands of the Lord born of Mary.

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