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

Holding Fast to the Gospel 6/23/2013
Grace and mercy be unto you from God our Father and His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

In life there are two things that are basic and which will affect our life here and most certainly our eternal life.

1) That which God has done for us in Christ. 2) Our response to that which He has done for us. These two truths are contained in John 3:16-18

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Salvation is a gift of grace from God, has been available to all human beings and it is the will of God that all would come to know Him through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. The Gospel (1 Cor 15:1-4) is defined as the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the visible church rises and falls upon its biblical underatanding and practice of the Gospel. The spiritual health of our congregations and our future depends entirely upon our faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We remember that in his 2nd letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote extensively of the importance of the Gospel being faithfully preached by Timothy and his coworkers to the future generations after he, Paul, had been translated to heaven through martyrdom.

It is necessary that the necessity, meaning and application of the Gospel be renewed in the Christian church with each generation. There can be a tendency for us to say that "I repented on such an such a date, I know about the Gospel, therefore I have it down pat." But no, that is not right, all of us have need to be renewed in the knowledge of what God has done for us in Christ on the cross and through His resurrection.

Perhaps we have lost the freshness of the joy that comes with the knowledge that we are forgiven in Christ, past, present and future? Perhaps the Gospel has become dull? What about the youth? What about the young ones? They know the love of Jesus for their souls, but as they have grown older, have they become grounded in the teachings of the Bible concerning what the Gospel is?

Last week we heard that God is the perfect Father and that all fatherhood is to be patterned after Him. We heard that He is the one who gave all mankind life and that His desire is that all would come to know Him as their Heavenly Father. This is only possible to experience upon believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ whereby we receive all the benefits that come with being a child of our Heavenly Father. It is then and only then that we can say, Abba, Father!

Introduction
Today's text is from the letter of Apostle Paul to the Galatians, who like us were believers in Jesus Christ, but were struggling with remaining faithful to the Gospel. They were being tossed to and fro by those who taught that believing the Gospel is not enough to be saved, but it is "believe and Jesus plus." Initially I had chosen as a text the last part of chapter 3 and the beginning of chapter 4, but decided to start at the beginning of this letter so as to allow the text to speak for itself.

Do you like to read a preview on a movie that you may choose to see, or a book you are going to be reading? Perhaps you do, I do and many do. Here is an overview of the letter so the Galatians.

Luther summarizes the contents of the letter as follows: “The Galatians had been brought by St. Paul from the Law to the true Christian faith and to the Gospel. But after his departure there came the false apostles, that were disciples of the true apostles, and seduced the Galatians to believe that they must be saved through the works of the Law and were committing a sin if they did not keep the works of the Law.... in opposition to them St. Paul extols his office and does not want to be considered less than any other apostle, boasting that he had his doctrine and ministry from God alone, in order to quell the boasting of the false apostles that relied upon the true apostles’ work and name....

This he does in the first and second chapters, and concludes that every one must be justified without merit, without works, without Law, through Christ alone. In the third and fourth chapters he supports all this with Scriptures, examples, and parables, showing that the Law brings sin and condemnation rather than righteousness, which is promised by God by grace only, fulfilled by Christ without the Law, and given to us. In the fifth and sixth chapters he teaches the works of love which should follow faith.”


We note that the introduction to this letter is much different that the other letters that Paul has written.

KJV Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

In most of the others after giving the apostolic greeting, he gives personal remarks to the hearers of the letter, but in this one he gets right to the point by saying the following:

6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.


Today there are many false Gospels being preached as the genuine Gospel. We cannot afford to not understand what the true Gospel is so that we can discern the difference between the true Gospel and all other false Gospels. It is only through understanding and receiving the Gospel of Christ that one will be in Christ so that Christ lives in us and through us.

We recall hearing of how those who are on the look out for counterfeit money know the real currency so well that the immediately recognize a false currency when they see it. They spent the bulk of their time studying the real currency.
May we come to understand the Gospel so much that we would be able to easily recognize the false Gospels of today.


After Paul's initial part of the letter, he continues on in order to further explain the immensity of the error that they have fallen into.

8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.(doomed to destruction)
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.


The Gospel was given to him by God Himself, he did not take another man's understanding nor did he learn it from another man. He received it by revelation which means that God opened the truth to Him. It was given as a gift and not for any other reason. It was given from heaven.....


We are saved eternally by believing in what Jesus has done, not what we must do, should do or can do. We are saved from destruction which we brought upon ourselves. We are not only saved from destruction, but we are saved for heaven.

This is given to us by grace and mercy.

He is for us, He came to be with us and now He lives in us.
He is gracious toward us. He is merciful toward us.


Why do we need His grace? Why do we need His mercy?

Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

He is gracious towards mankind and is also merciful toward mankind.

Grace means that we get what we do not deserve from Him.
Mercy means that we do not get what we deserve from Him.

Let us look at some real life illustrations which will help us to understand grace and mercy.

We learn from our youth of God's grace and mercy from our family relationships. and we continue to learn of God's grace and mercy from Him through His Word and Spirit as well as through our everyday relationships also as adults.

Let us consider......

The teenage son wrecked the car driving too fast, his dad picked him up from the scene, not much was said on the way home, and his son lay awake all night wondering what would happen in the morning when his father talked to him. The son got up in the morning, after a quiet breakfast, the dad told his son, "Well, I suppose we should go car shopping for you......"

That is grace.


"When I was 16, my parents kicked me out of the house. They had tried everything. Nothing worked. And it got to the point where my lifestyle had become so disruptive to the rest of the household, that they were left with no choice but to painfully say, “We love you but you can’t continue to live this way and live under our roof.”

A couple years after they kicked me out I was living in an apartment with a couple friends and I called my dad (after losing yet another of my many dead-end jobs–I only called him when I needed something) and said, “Rent’s due and I don’t have any money.” My dad asked, “Well, what happened to your job?” I made up some lie about cutbacks or something. He said, “Meet me at Denny’s in an hour.” I said okay. After we sat down, he signed a blank check and handed it to me, and said, “Take whatever you need. This should hold you over until you can find another job.”

He didn’t probe into why I lost my job, or yell at me for doing so. He didn’t give a limit (here’s a $1000). And I absolute
ly took advantage! I not only remember taking that check and writing it out for much more than I needed, I remember sneaking into my mom and dad’s house on numerous occasions and stealing checks from out of his checkbook. I had mastered forging his signature. I went six months at one point without a job because I didn’t need one! Any time I needed money I would go steal another check and forge his signature –$500, $300, $700. I completely took advantage of his kindness—and he knew it!

Years later he told me that he saw all those checks being cashed, but he decided not to say anything about it at the time. It didn’t happen immediately (the fruits of grace are always in the future), but that demonstration of unconditional grace was the beginning of God doing a miraculous work in my heart and life. My dad’s literal “turning of the other cheek” gave me a picture of God’s unconditional love that I couldn’t shake.

My father died in 2010, twenty-one years after he sent his disrespectful, ungrateful son on his way. And it was his unconditional, reckless, one-way love for me at my most arrogant and worst that God used to eventually bring me back. Until the day he died, my father was my biggest cheerleader and my best friend. I miss him every day.

Children will run from law and they’ll run from grace. The ones who run from law rarely come back. But the ones who run from grace always come back. Grace draws its own back home.” I ran from grace. It drew me home."


That is grace and the power that lies in it. The Gospel is a grace Gospel, one that is freely given to all.


The Gospel reminds us that we have not only received grace, but we have received mercy.
For we deserve nothing but everlasting punishment in hell for our sin, but the Gospel reveals God's mercy toward us.


May I use a personal illustration of God's mercy? The Lord has not only been and is yet gracious to me, but He has also shown me great mercy and yet does. I have disappointed many of you here, but you have been very gracious and merciful and I know you will continue to be gracious and merciful towards me...............

Mercy

When we were building the new church and after a day on the sun on the roof, I started for home in my car. Being tired I did something that I never do: I failed to fasten my seatbelt and begin to drive home. Secondly, even though our state had recently made it unlawful to text while driving, you got it, I began to text while I was driving homeward, As I traveled down the last straight stretch before County Road 3 north of Cokato with the corn tall enough so that one could not see over it, I kept an eye the road while texting. All of a sudden a car comes from the right side and crosses right in front of me, and I think; Hey, they ran a stop sign, but in the next split second, I saw the stop sign on my right at the edge of County Road 3.

As I whizzed over County Road 3, a deep sense of embarrassment, shame and regret began to fill me........After I got over the shock of what I had just done, the Lord began to speak to me in a quiet voice: I was so shook that I did not even tell my wife for some time, but as I spent a couple of nights in which sleep was hard to come by, the Lord spoke to me "You in full knowledge ignored the law, as the result of your arrogance the driver of that car could have been killed and or you could have been killed. Due to your arrogance, their family and your family could be grieving over needless deaths."But I extended mercy to you, even though you do not deserve mercy. Why do I do it? Because that is who I am."

That is mercy........

2000 years ago on a hillside outside of Jerusalem an innocent man made of flesh and blood like us, humbled Himself to the death of the cross, in order to extend grace and mercy to a fallen sinful world who did not deserve anything from God but death and everlasting punishment.

He did this so that we could receive the full assurance of the forgiveness of sins through the shedding of His Holy and Innocent blood.

That is the Gospel, full of grace and mercy....Having received this grace and mercy, how can we not say with all Christians of all time: "Abba, Father.".....................................................

In the name of Christ Jesus,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
....






Posted on 23 Jun 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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Help is on the way Isaiah 40.1.11
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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