2020 Theme: His Truth Endures to All Generations
By Rev. Tom Tuura
Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church
Last month leading to the month of November, I urged the reader to be thankful for our merciful and forgiving, God. He has secured salvation for us through His Son Jesus Christ. This paragraph is pasted from that article as a review of the word Salvation.
Let’s look at a sampling of just the word as it shows up in a simple search.
Salvation. From the song of Moses after crossing the Red Sea, “The Lord is my strength and son, and He has become my salvation” to King David in his confession after great sin writes in Psalm 51, “Restore to my the joy of Your salvation, then to the Prophet Isaiah looking into the future, “I will also give you as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” Then we remember the Prophet Zechariah, “He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey”. And early on in the beginnings of the church in the book of Acts, the Apostles’ proclaim, “Neither is there salvation in any other…” Paul states in Romans, “for it is the power of God to salvation,”. In 2 Corinthians, he states, “behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation”. The writer to the Hebrews asks, “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation…” Then in Revelation it is proclaimed, “After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!”
Let us be thankful for the clear message and announcement of salvation ringing throughout the Bible and now celebrated in the birth of our Lord. We have arrived now at another Christmas season. The new church year is upon us. Our anticipated 150th anniversary is behind us, (as well as the presidential election) And the pandemic is still with us. Most importantly Immanuel, God is with us!
Unfortunately, even in this season, not all feel God’s presence. There are various reasons. One is guilt and sin. Isaiah says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God, your sins have hidden His face from you…” (Isa. 59:2). But unlike the “woke” movement, there is forgiveness with God. But sadly sometimes there are mixed messages, even in the church. You may be familiar with a song on Spirit FM called “Truth Be Told” by Matthew West.
“Lie number 1 is you’re supposed to have it all together. When they ask you how you are, you smile and say, ‘Never better’. Lie number 2 is everybody’s life is perfect, except yours. So keep your messes and your wounds and your secrets safe behind closed doors.
Truth be told, the truth is rarely told.”
Later it continues:
“There’s a sign on the wall that says come as you are—I doubt it...
Didn’t you say the church should be more like a hospital, a safe place for the sick, the sinner, the scared and the prodigal—like me. Truth be told, the truth is rarely told...”
This is a heartbreaking song. As a pastor I’ve thought long and hard about how to address this without singling anyone out. You can’t preach Law and Gospel to the guilt ridden person hanging their heads, while the others are sitting comfortably, nodding in agreement.
So there’s a way to make everyone equally uncomfortable. In addition to the guilt ridden on the one hand, there’s the hypocrites on the other. Or to put another way, those who know they have sinned, and those who deny they have sinned. Jesus puts it this way, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” (Matt 7:3) In Sunday School we learned about sins of commission and sins of omission. So sitting in the pews, and pulpit at any one time are sinners who are guilty of sins of weakness, they are the ones who feel the guilt, and hesitate to come to God’s house. And then those who are those deceived by pride and their own power.
Jesus talks about a third group, those who are judging, and gossips who cause division and harm. Just before the above verse I quoted, Jesus mentions those who judge. Pride and power are just as sinful as stealing. The tongue can be just as sinful as the fist. And common to all is denial, and/or deception. We can see why pride is so damaging. Because pride and deception come to church with no cares. But the prodigal has to drag themselves.
The song is mostly about people with the sins of weakness. Are they the only sinners? No, no my friend. Sadly, they are the ones loaded down with guilt. They are not innocent, nor are they victims. Sins of weakness are just as damning as pride. They can make excuses too, as well as experience pride toward others they perceive as even more sinful than they. Self righteousness knows no bounds.
There’s one more category, forgiven sinners. We’re all sinners. Either you (and I) have a hard time lifting our heads, or we are in deception, or we are humbled forgiven sinners.
Two things: Jesus binds and bandages up every sinner, but He says “Go and sin no more.”
Jesus says to the proud, humble yourselves, take the log out of your eye and repent. Return to your first love.
The last category is what we all need, forgiveness; to be a forgiven sinner-- is to have been to Calvary.
Your sin doesn’t have to keep you from God, but your pride will—guaranteed. Jesus is the Great Physician. Let the Truth be told.
That’s my view from the Blackberry Patch Pulpit