Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Pastor's Blog

Law unto Grace 7.23.2017
Dearly beloved,

May the grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and His Son our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with us all now and always, Amen.

This year marks the 500th Anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation which was marked by Martin Luther nailing his 95 thesis on the church door at Wittenburg on October 31, 2017. Luther did not wish to begin another church, but only wanted to bring up for discussion many points that the Roman Church at that time was teaching, and which Luther maintained were unscriptural teachings. He was seeking for a reformation within that Roman Church.

His protests were not received well and as a result the Protestant (protest) Reformation (reform) was launched. It has been 500 years since that major event in the history of the Christian Church which we are especially marking in this year of 2017.

One of Luther's notable and instructive statements that he made at that time was the truth that we are both saint and sinner simultaneously. This reflects that which the Apostle Paul has been teaching in the letter to the Romans in which he has explained of how through being joined to Jesus Christ by faith, we are free from the penalty and the power of sin, but not the presence of sin. This is where the statement of being a saint and sinner simultaneously begins come into play, as it is difficult for us to understand how we can be both at the same time.

In the 7th chapter of his letter to the Romans, Apostle Paul speaks of freedom that we have from the effect and from the power of the law, for it has done its work by bringing us to the awareness and the knowledge of our sin. Through sorrow over sin and turning to God for mercy and forgiveness, we now live under the power and effect of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which has freed us from the law/principle of sin and death.

Romans 7;14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

It was a privilege to know the late Pastor Edwin Erickson, who was a lay minister who was a friend of this congregation. In his later years as his memory began to fail him, he had a very short, but concise message that he would tell me each time we would visit. Pastor Edwin had shared with me on various occasions of how he had struggled with religion, as he called it, and told me of how he slowly came to the realization that salvation was by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. For many years he struggled under the burden of having to match up to what he perceived and understood what it meant to be a Christian. He did not realize it at the time, but he was under which was performing that which it was given for by God, to bring him to the end of his efforts and to rest in the efforts of Christ.

This revelation came to him in two parts. He told me that one day he realized that he could not match up to the laws demands and he came to the place where he gave up, but only partially. He understood that he was not going to be able to meet righteous requirements of God as outlined in the law, but as he told me he still was not free from the law. He said, I believed that I was saved by grace, but now you must live it. He shared with me that even though he understood grace for the first time, he still felt this obligation to live a righteous life as a demand, and not as an outflow from the knowledge and experience of grace.

Then one day he was reading the 7th chapter of Romans, and he came to verses 9 and 10 which state:
Romans 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

At that point the lights came on for him, as the Word opened up to him and revealed to him that he had been trying to do the impossible, by attempting to live up to the laws demands which were never meant to cause a person to be justified before God. I still remember how joyously he retold that story time after time in his last days: He would repeat the words of verses 9 and 10:

For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. Then he would intently look at me and ask me: Have you died?

Those verses (9 and 10) form a huge part of the Apostle Pauls testimony of his life, for we know from other parts of the bible what he is referring to when he says that. I was alive without the law once.

What Pastor Erickson was revealing was very important for me in my learning from others, for he was giving testimony to what the Apostle Paul is writing about in this chapter concerning the role of the law in bringing us to understand, receive and live in grace.

Some of you may recall that occasionally I will ask someone whom I have just met if they would be willing to give me 3 watershed moments of their life. Those moments in their life which changed the trajectory of their lives, either in a good way or perhaps a bad way. Through listening to their sharing of those events, one gains very quickly an overall knowledge of who that person is.

For the most part, I was looking for those events that are more of the natural part of our lives. For example, my three are: Losing my father at 11 years old, being joined to my wife at 21 years of age, and being called into ministry at 50 years old.

As I have been reading, thinking about, praying over and meditating on the letter of Paul to the Romans, I have started thinking more of the spiritual watershed events/moments of my life. This has occurred due to observing the watershed moments of our beloved Apostle Paul.
Apostle Paul in this chapter writes about his three major times in his life: His past when he lived immune from the power of the commandment, His awakening to the knowledge of his sinfulness and his life as a believer in which he struggled with the ongoing presence of sin in his body.

He, like many, lived in the security of self, either repudiating God by ignoring the law and its calling to him, but finally when Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, Paul came to himself and saw himself for what he was. A sinner! He saw that in persecuting Christs followers he was persecuting Jesus himself!

Let us think again about Pastor Erickson and his sin revived and I died. We must realize that there are only two places to dwell: Either under the law or under grace. Only after we have been driven to despair over our own efforts will we call out for the help of the mercy and forgiveness of God. When we are living under the law, we have the ability to ignore it or hide from it, but it still is doing its purpose and function which is to show us our sin as well as incite us to sin. It is commandment unto death and was never meant for anything else. In a way it brings us to life, but only through coming to the death of ourselves.

I remember a story that I read in a fiction book of how a man was brought to himself through the commandment coming to him. He was a pastor who was very successful, and in his success he began to neglect his family and his wife to the extent that he chose to have physical relationship with another woman. He was rebuked time and time again by those close to him but to no avail. One day as he was driving on the highway a jackrabbit jumped out in front of his car and in his attempts to save the jackrabbits life, he swerved and ended up smashing into a tree, badly damaging his car. As his car hit the tree, a photo of his wife in a picture frame smashed against the window, shattering the frame and dropping to the floor. At that moment, the commandment revived and he died. He thought: I swerved to save a jackrabbit and I totally killed, destroyed, (metaphorically speaking) my wife, my family, my church family??? How foolish have I been!!! The commandment came, and sin revived, and he died.

May the Spirit of God work in each of us as we think about how this message relates to us, to those we love and to our world upon which God has poured His grace, desiring to bring them to the knowledge of our/their sin. May we think on the watershed events of our lives to our benefit and growth in Him.

Now, what would be our watershed moments in your life in your coming to an awareness of the grace of God? Are we under law or under grace?

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 23 Jul 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
The Power of the Word 7.16.2017
Dear friend in Christ,

May the grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with us all now and forever, Amen.

KJV Matthew 13:1 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.
2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

When we hear the term word of God, most of us think of the written word, but as we research further we find out that the Word is a Person, the Person Jesus Christ. Let us briefly look at some of the references which teach us of the essence of the Word.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, (Jesus Christ) and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The Incarnate Word was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of a virgin, and lived here on this earth for 33+years. He was God and He was human! The Word reconnected us to God.

2 Corinthians 4:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
KJV 2 Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

Apostle Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that this Word has reconnected us with God through His death and resurrection and that we who have been reconnected to God are called to bring others into this kingdom of forgiveness and of grace. Paul writes that we have this word of reconciliation, which means that we preach Christ and His atoning work to them. Paul write of this ministry and how it works.

KJV 2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

And we bring this word of reconciliation faithfully, bringing the Word to them so that they would see the love of God as demonstrated on the cross, that they would see their sin and that they would cry out for the mercy from the Word in order to receive the assurance of the forgiveness of their sin. For faith comes through the hearing of the Word of God.

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

We hide nothing from God, and that is good, for what would be our state if we could succeed in hiding from Him? It is because God through His Word wants to bring us to know our need for forgiveness which He freely and joyfully gives to anyone who wants it. When we read of the penetrating Word in verses 12 and 13, does not fear seep into our being? Yes, it does and by nature we want to hide from God, but we are told then that it is a blessing that God sees inside of us so that we would not be deceived into thinking that we are indeed able to hide from Him. But, we have a great high priest who made atonement once and for all, and continually intercedes for us. We are told in verse 16 to come boldly unto the throne of grace with our sin so that we might obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The Word of God is amazing is it not, for He wants so much that we would walk in the light of truth and not fall into the trap of walking in a lie, all the while trying to convince ourselves that we are walking in truth. When the Word penetrates into our being, may we come to the light with our evil deeds, readily admitting that we are sinners, sinners yes, but saved by grace through faith. Let us lay hold of his continual forgiveness, laying aside those sins that have caused our hearts to begin to pull away from the Word. Now let us hear Jesusā€™s explanation of this parable, praying that He the Word would give us honest, humble and pliable hearts that would readily admit to our weakness, be moved to change what needs to be changed and to live as His children.

Matthew 13:18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

There are four types of ground that He illustrates, and of the four, the last one is the only one that is called good ground. It is a heart that hears the Word, understands what He is saying and then moves in the direction that the Spirit leads them. There would be many many applications to this parable, but I am going to leave it to the Holy Spirit to make application for each of us, for He knows exactly what is going on in our hearts and He will move us in the right direction. May we have ears to hear as we take the Word and hear what He is saying to us this day.

In Christ, the Word, I leave you,

Pastor Orval
Posted on 16 Jul 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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Law unto Grace 7.23.2017
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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