Second Reformed Church

Monday, September 28, 2015

Review: "Martyrs of Malatya"

Martyrs of Malatya:  Martyred for the Messiah in Turkey is the sober account of the murder of three Christians for being witnesses to the Gospel in Turkey written by James Wright (a pseudonym).

Wright tells the story of how two Turkish men, Necati and Ugur, became Christians -- separately, by question their beliefs and meeting Christians as young men.  He also tells of the German, Tilmann, who would move to Turkey to spread the Gospel.

The three men ended up working in a publishing house and spreading the Gospel through what I would call, "friendship evangelism."  They got to know people and raised questions of faith with them and shared the Gospel.

Wright also tells the story of the five Turkish men who, as followers of Islam, had come to believe that Christianity was insidious and a mechanism of political and cultural oppression, and how they came to decide to befriend these men and finally, brutally slaughter them at their work.

Wright explains the outcome of the trial of the five, who did not deny what they had done, and the witness of the deaths of the three Christians -- not callously showing "the blood of the martyrs to be the seed of the church," but lovingly portraying the aftermath of their deaths and the witness to Christ that endures.

The book has an appendix of pictures of the Christians.

This is a work that encourages prayer and thought for those who are suffering for Christ.  This is a book that encourages us to understand the Church universal as being all Christian brothers and sisters throughout time and space -- realizing that having our political candidate lose (which is often then greatest suffering of a Christian in the United States) is not such a hardship as many are suffering and now wear the white robes of martyrs, waiting for the return of Christ.

[I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This review appears on my blog and on]

Review: "Daily Rituals"

Mason Currey's fascinating book, Daily Rituals:  How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work, began with a series of blog posts and eventually grew into this book.

Currey has done extensive research -- as shown in his lengthy section of end notes -- to find out what the "great minds" -- such as Carl Jung, Igor Stravinsky, George Sand, Knut Hamsun, Maria Kalman, Gustave Flaubert, and many others -- "make time, find inspiration, and get to work" -- as the subtitle tells.

In reading over the variety of opinions, it seems the best answer is to get up early, sleep in late, take naps, stay away for many hours, go to be early, stay up all night, work in bed, at your desk, in the pub, eating sparsely, abundantly, erratically, precisely, smoking, using drugs, drinking, being a teetotaller, stay completely clean, having sex often, and staying celibate.

Or, as Bernard Malamud wrote, "There's no one way -- there's too much drivel about this subject.  You're who you are, not Fitzgerald or Thomas Wolfe.  You write by sitting down and writing.  There's not particular time or place -- you suit yourself, your nature.  How one works, assuming he's disciplined, doesn't matter.  If he or she is not disciplined, no sympathetic magic will help.  The trick is to make time -- not to steal it -- and produce the fiction.  If the stories come, you get them written, you're on the right track.  Eventually everyone learns his or her own best way.  The real mystery to crack is you" (234).

This is a fascinating, humorous, encouraging book.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sunday Worship

Join us tomorrow, Sunday the 27th, as Rev. Tom Henion, Jr., leads us in worship and in the preaching of the Word and the reception of the Sacrament.  Worship begins at 10:30 AM.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Yes, Virginia, the Pastor is on Vacation

Since the pastor is on vacation, we will not have our study this evening.  Please plan to join us on October 8th at 7 PM, D.V., as we continue our study of the book of Colossians.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Judge Rightly" Sermon: John 7:1-24

“Judge Rightly”

[John 7:1-24]

September 20, 2015 Second Reformed Church

            Is it possible to obey the law to honor your parents while disobeying them?

            Is it possible to obey the law not to kill while killing?

            Is it possible to obey the law not to work on the Sabbath while working on the Sabbath?

            Jesus explained to the crowd – and to the Jews in particular – that things are not always what they seem.

            Our text this morning takes place about six months after Jesus taught on the Bread of Life.  And we may remember that Jesus said that He is God in the flesh, that the Law cannot save, and that God choses whom to save and change and unite with Christ spiritually. 

            As we turn to our text:

            We see, first this morning, the Gospel exposes our sin and unbelief.

“After this Jesus went about in Galilee.  He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him.  Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand.  So his brothers said to him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may seek the works you are doing.  For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly.  If you do these things, show yourself to the world.’  For not even his brothers believed in him.”

Jesus spent the next part of His ministry in Galilee, because the Jews were seeking to kill Him in Judea (where Jerusalem was located), and it was not time for Him to suffer and die.

It was time for the Fest of Booths – the Feast of Tabernacles – when Jews gather together to remember and give thanks for their preservation by God during the forty years in the wilderness after God delivered them from Egypt.  It was also a time to celebrate the harvest – it is a thanksgiving feast time – and it lasts a week.

Jesus was with His family at this time – and His brothers came to Him to ask if He was going to accompany them to the feast.

In the Gospel penned by Matthew, we learn of Jesus’ extended family:  “Is this not the carpenter’s son?  Is not his mother called Mary?  Are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?  Are not all his sisters with us?” (Matthew 13:55-56a, ESV).

Mary and Joseph had a number of sons and daughters after Jesus was born.

And we see that Jesus’ brothers did not ask Him whether He was joining them for the feast just to see if He wanted to sit in the front seat on the way to Jerusalem.  No, His brothers did not believe in Him – they did not – yet – believe that He is God the Savior – (though they would believe after the Resurrection).

What did they say to Him?

“Jesus, are You coming with us to the Feast of Booths?  You know, Your disciples in Jerusalem would like to see You do some of Your famous works.  After all, if You are the Savior, You wouldn’t want to do Your works in secret, would You?  You would want to do Your works before the whole world so everyone would believe in You.  If You are the Savior, why don’t You show Yourself and Your works to the world?”

Jesus’ brothers taunted Him:  “If You want us to believe You are the Savior – get out there.  Put on a big show.  Announce Yourself clearly in Jerusalem and take Your place.  Put on the fireworks.  All this sneaking around and cryptic parables is not helping anyone to believe in You.”

We know that Jesus had told His family Who He is, because we are told that they did not believe Him.  Jesus’ brothers and sisters – whom He grew up with, did not believe that He is God the Savior – (at that time).  They didn’t come right out and say, “Jesus, we do not believe You are God the Savior.”  No, they said, “Jesus, if You were God the Savior, wouldn’t You act in this way and do this?”

And we see that – maybe you believed later in life and spoke similarly – when presented with the Gospel – our sin and unbelief is plain – until God changes us and causes us to believe:  “Really?  That’s your story?  It doesn’t make sense that God would do that in that way at that time – wouldn’t God have made a way that everyone would be saved?  Wouldn’t God just take everyone because He is love?”

And we – all we before we believed – questioned God and what He has done to secure salvation for His people – and we say, “No, that can’t be right.”  And the reason we do so is we either don’t understand the depth of the evil of sin, or we don’t understand the heights of the holiness of God, or both.

We tell God we’re not so bad – when we have sinned against the Greatest Bing in the Universe – greater than the President – greater than you and me.  We tell God to come down off His high horse and realize we’re all human – and “to err is human” – but Shakespeare said that, not God – God said, “Be holy for I am holy.”

If someone shines a bright light at us, we close our eyes and lift our hands over our face and turn away.  We do the same thing as unbelievers when confronted with the Gospel because our sin and unbelief is exposed.

Yet, when God changes our hearts and causes us to believe, we repent of our sin and see the awfulness of it, and then we gaze at the Glory of God, mediated by Jesus, and we are in awe of His holiness, even with the small amount that we are able to see with our human eyes.

“Jesus said to them, ‘My time has not yet come, but your time is always here.  The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.  You go up to the feast.  I’m not going up to this feast, for my time has not fully come.’  After saying this, he remained in Galilee.”

Jesus explained to them that He was not going to the Feast because His time had not yet fully come – He was working according to God’s timetable, and it was not time for Him to go up to Jerusalem, because He testified against the world that its deeds are evil.  Unbelievers see Jesus and hear His Gospel and they hate Him because they know that He is the Truth and they hate it – they want to remain in their darkness and sin.

But Jesus told His brothers to go ahead – it was right for them to go and to give thanks at the Feast – for God is always worthy of thanks for His bountiful gifts.  They were not being hunted – they were not a threat to the other unbelievers in Jerusalem.

“But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publically, but in private.  The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, ‘Where is he?’  And there was much muttering about him among the people.  While some said, ‘He is a good man,’ others said, ‘No, he is leading the people astray.’  Yet, for fear of the Jews, no one spoke openly about him.

“About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching.  The Jews therefore marveled, saying, ‘How is it that this man has learning, when he never studied?’”

About half-way through the Feast, the time was right for Jesus to go to Jerusalem, so He went up – but He went privately, in secret, so He would not be stopped and carried away before the time was right for Him to suffer and die.

As He made His way to Jerusalem, people at the Feast were looking for Him – they expected He would be there – and they were divided in their opinions over Him:  some said He was a good man, but some said that He was leading the people astray.

Then Jesus appeared:  He sat down in the Temple and He began to teach, and as they listened to Him, they began to question:  “Where did He learn to teach? – He was never educated.  He never went to college or seminary – He’s just speaking His own opinions.  He has no scholastic pedigree that we should listen to Him.”

“The Savior would be educated.  This Man is a nobody.  He’s spouting His own opinions.  Don’t listen to Him.”

The Gospel exposed their sin and unbelief.

Second, if we know the Word of God, we will recognize the Word of God.

“So Jesus answered them, ‘My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.  If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.  The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him is no falsehood.  Has not Moses given you the law?  Yet none of you keeps the law.  Why do you seek to kill me?’  The crowd answered, ‘You have a demon!  Who is seeking to kill you?’”

Jesus countered their claims that He was just speaking His own opinion, because He was uneducated, and He told them that He was not speaking His own teaching, but the teaching of the One Who sent Him – God.

And, He told them that if their will was to do God’s Will, they would know that His teaching was God’s teaching.

If He was just speaking His opinion, He would be seeking His Own glory, but if He is teaching the teaching of the One Who sent Him, then He is true – He is being an authentic representative of the One Who sent Him and His teaching.

In other words, Jesus said, “I am not speaking my own words, but the Word of God.  If you desired to do God’s will, you would know that I am speaking the Word of God.  Since I am not seeking My glory, but the glory of God, what I am teaching is true.”

Does that make sense?

Jesus answered their accusation of His being uneducated and just giving His Own opinion by saying that He was speaking the Word of God and seeking the glory of God, and if they were seeking to obey God, they would recognize what God said.

But, Jesus explained, Moses gave them the Law of God, and they do not obey it, so that is why they do not recognize that Jesus is speaking the Word of God.

It is said that when tellers are trained in a bank, they spend time acquainting themselves with what real money looks and feels like, so when a counterfeit piece comes along, they will know it instantly.  They don’t spend time studying the counterfeits, but study the real thing, so they will know a false piece of currency when it comes past them.

Jesus was saying the same thing:  if we know the Word of God, we will recognize it when it is preached and taught and read and when we read it, and we will know false teaching and error as well.  If we know the Word of God, when heresies and strange teachings come into the church, we can deny them as error and contrary to the Word of God.  In this way, we glorify God and protect ourselves from false teaching – if we know the Word of God.

Jesus told the Jews that the reason they didn’t recognize Him and His Word was they did not know and believe the Word of God.

That is one reason we need to be very familiar with the Word of God – why we need to read it and study it and hear it read and preached – so when someone tells us something that goes against the Word of God, we can say, “No, that doesn’t match up with what I know from God’s Word.”

Then Jesus asked them, “Why do you seek to kill me?”

“If you knew the Word of God and believed the Word of God, you would believe Me.  But, as it is, you do not know the Word of God, and you do not believe Me, and you are even seeking to kill Me.”

Now, most of the crowd was not seeking to kill Jesus, but there were some who were, and they would know that Jesus was pointing to them in these words – that is why they accused Him of being out of His mind.

If we know the Word of God, we will recognize the Word of God.

Third, the worship of God is not violated by the works of God.

“Jesus answered them, ‘I did one work, and you all marvel at it.’” 

Jesus is referring back to chapter five of the Gospel of John where we read that on the Sabbath – when God had ordained that no work be done – He healed a man who had been lying lame by the pool for thirty-eight years.  The Jews flew into a rage upon seeing the lame man healed and carrying his bed away, demanding of him, “Who told you to carry your bed on the Sabbath.”  They were completely blind to the fact that Jesus had just healed the man, and they focused on what they understood to be a breaking of the Sabbath law.

And then Jesus turned the tables on them:

“‘Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.  If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the Law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well?’” 

“According to the Law,” Jesus argued, “a boy must be circumcised on the eighth day of his life.  Some boys were born such that the eighth day is the Sabbath.  You perform the work of circumcision on the Sabbath and do not consider it breaking the Law.  But I healed a man’s whole body (and his soul, as well) on the Sabbath, and you hold me guilty of breaking the Law.”

Do we understand?  If it does not break the Law to have a priest do the work of circumcision on the Sabbath, why does it break the Law for Jesus to heal a man on the Sabbath – in his body and soul – who had suffered for thirty-eight years?

So Jesus said:

“’Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.’”

God similarly stated:

“For the LORD sees not as a man sees:  a man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7b, ESV).

Jesus does not deny that the Law states that no one is to work on the Sabbath – one day in seven – but there are exceptions:  of mercy and necessity.  God gave humanity the Sabbath law that we would not have to strive to provide for ourselves every day, but would have one day in seven when we can rest from our common pursuits and spend the day in rest in the worship of God. 

But, if a building is on fire on the Sabbath, firemen do right to work to put out the fire.  If someone is shot on the Sabbath, medical professionals do right to try to heal that person.  If we are to join together in worship of our God, pastors do right to do the work of leading us in worship and preaching and teaching.

And if someone is starving on the Sabbath, we do right in working to provide food for that person.  And if someone has been suffering with an ailment for thirty-eight years, Jesus did right in working to heal that man.

If we do the Will of God, we do some sort of work.

If we do the Will of God, we do what is right.

If we do the Will of God, we do not break the Law.

It is right to do the Will of God on the Sabbath. We do not violate the worship of God – we do not break the Sabbath Law – when we do the Will of God – the Works of God.

And so we are left with the Law, which is a gift to us – the Sabbath day.  And we are not to work – to do those things we normally do to earn a living – on the seventh day – except as mercy and necessity call for it – in accordance with the Will of God.

Be careful, this is not an excuse to get around God’s Law, but a call to judge rightly.  To examine ourselves and what we are doing and see if we are acting according to the Will and to the Glory of God.  If we are, then we will not sin.

We must consider the motivations behind an act – motivations count as well.  If I preach on Sunday in order to have people praise me, I have sinned.  If I preach on Sunday so we would join together in hearing God’s Word and in the worship of God, I have done what is right, and I have not broken the Sabbath law.

And so it is a good thing to be in God’s Word, so our sin would be exposed and we would repent of it, so we would learn what God’s Will is, so we would learn what is the Truth of God’s Word and be able to see and deny falsehood, and so we would learn to judge rightly, understanding the Law of God, not as a prison to restrain us, but a blessing for us to know how to act according to God’s Will and to His Glory.

Let us pray:

Almighty God, we thank You for the Moral Law that You have given us in Your Word.  We ask that the Holy Spirit would draw us to Your Word and help us to know it.  We ask that You would give us Your Wisdom that we would judge rightly, not seeking to accuse each other of sin, but to live in a way that is pleasing to You and loving to our neighbors.  For it is in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.

Monday, September 14, 2015

"The Words of Eternal Life" Sermon: John 6:50-71

“The Words of Eternal Life”

[John 6:50-71]

September 13, 2015Second Reformed Church

            The Jews were angry because Jesus said that He had come down out of Heaven – that He is God in the flesh.  And Jesus explained that no one can believe in Him savingly unless God the Father causes them to believe by changing their heart.

            Then Jesus explained that salvation – eternal life – was only to be found through eating the Bread of Life – through eating His flesh and drinking His blood.  Those who do so, Jesus will physically raise from the deadon the last day and bring them into the Kingdom of God.

            What Jesus meant by this, as He explained here and elsewhere, is that those who would have eternal life must abide in Him – we must be united with Jesus if we are to live forever with Him.  Just as the branches cannot live unless they are united to the vine, neither can we who believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus is God in the flesh Who physically rose from the dead – neither can we live – eternally – unless we remain united with and in and to Jesus through faith alone.

            Once Jesus finished speaking in the synagogue, the disciples addressed Jesus:

            “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This is a hard saying, who can listen to it?’”

            So, we see, first, this morning, the Gospel is offensive.

            Jesus had explained to all those present in the synagogue that it is not possible to become right with God through keeping the Law.

            Jesus told them that He is God – the Son of Man – the Promised Savior – come from Heaven – born united in the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth to complete the work of salvation.

            And – the only way to be right with God – to be seen as holy and sinless – and thus received into God’s Kingdom – is to continually feed on Jesus’ flesh and continually drink His blood – that is – to remain ever united with Him through faith alone.

            And the disciples turned to Jesus and said, “This is a hard saying, who can listen to it?”

            Let’s flesh that out:  “What you have just explained Jesus is a hard thing to hear – it is a harsh thing to hear – it is unpleasant –it is hard to take.  You tell us that salvation is not through the Law.  You tell us that God – the Infinite and Almighty God – has taken on a human body.  You tell us that we must be united with You in flesh and blood.  Jesus, this offends our understanding of the purpose of the Law.  It is offensive to think of God taking on human flesh – uniting in a real human person.  And this language of flesh and blood – eating and drinking – to represent unity with the Son of Man in faith is really hard to take.  Do You expect us – and them – to swallow all of this?  Do You understand how difficult this is for us to wrap our minds around?”

            Nothing has changed, has it?

            “God became a human?  Right.  Like in Greek and Roman mythology?”

            “What do you mean?  I’m a good person.  God has to take that into account – I’m no Hitler.”

            “If God is love, He will take everyone, won’t He?”

            “Flesh and blood – com’mon – you have to get past the mythology and stress God’s love.”

            “Faith alone?  Com’mon – you don’t want people to think you’re narrow-minded or bigoted or intolerant, do you?”

            Have you heard anything like those comments?

            “Jesus, what You’re saying is disgusting, and it doesn’t fit in with our understanding of reality.  Do You really expect us to believe it?”

            How did Jesus answer them?

“But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this said to them, ‘Do you take offense at this?  Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?’”

“Are you offended by what I am saying?  What will you think when I ascend – in this physical body – back to My throne in Heaven?”

Jesus was prophesying what He would do, but primarily, He was testing it them – putting to them the question of whether they really believed in Him savingly?  Maybe they were not following Him just for the bread, but, perhaps it was because He was different – He spoke with authority – or something else.  But when the rubber hit the road – did they really believe Him?

Do we believe Him?  Do we strive to obey Him?  Do we trust in His work for our salvation by faith alone?

Paul explained the truth of the matter:  “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ the power of God, Christ the wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1:23-24, ESV).

Just like you can’t be “kind of” pregnant; we can’t “kind of” believe.  It’s all or nothing.  The disciples were realizing that.

Second, we see that it is the Spirit Who gives life.

“’It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is no help at all.  The words that Ihave spoken to you are spirit and life.  But there are some of you who do not believe.’  (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and he knew who it was who would betray him.)  And he said, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.’”

            Jesus told the disciples three things:

            First, God the Holy Spirit brings men and women to spiritual life through faith in Jesus Alone.  Nothing that you or I or anyone does or does not do contributes to our salvation.  We cannot do or not do anything to save ourselves or to convince God to save us.  Our salvation is not based on our merit.

            Second, Jesus knew in His Divinity – since He is at the same time and in the same person – the One True God and the real human being, Jesus of Nazareth – Jesus knew who believed in Him savingly and who did not – and He knew who would deny Him and who would betray Him.

            And third, no one can come to Jesus unless God the Father draws that person – or here, Jesus says, unless God the Father “grants” it to that person – as John put it – “who were born, not of the blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but God” (John 1:13, ESV)

            What is the procedure or the mechanism by which we may be saved?

            John tells us, “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16a, ESV).  The motivation behind God’s plan of salvation – sending the Son to accomplish salvation, and the Spirit to apply salvation, as the Father grants – or gives – salvation – is God’s love.  God so loved the world – for God’s reasons, but not due to us being fuzzy, lovable creatures.  No, we were dead in our sins – in cosmic rebellion against God, but – for some reason not explicitly revealed to us – God loved the world, chose a people for Himself, sent His Son to make them right with God – through becoming a human – living, dying, rising, and ascending, and then sending God the Holy Spirit.

            God made a plan, God the Father loved the world, God the Son came in the person of Jesus to accomplish the work of salvation, and God the Spirit gives life according to God the Father’s choice in love and His granting faith alone in Jesus and His Gospel.

            Jesus said, “If you are offended by the Gospel – if you dismiss it as nonsense – it is due to the fact that God the Holy Spirit has not raised you to spiritual life.”

            Third, Jesus alone has the words to eternal life.

“After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.”

Jesus had just drawn a line in the sand.  He had stated clearly that salvation was only through Him Alone.  The Law cannot save.  We cannot save ourselves.  God the Father chooses whom to save.  God the Son does the work of salvation in being our Substitute before God – living a holy life under the Law and taking on the punishment for our sins – and God the Holy Spirit raises those God has dragged and granted belief to believe.  And we must remain united to Him through faith alone to live and be received into eternal life.

And many of His disciples walked away and never came back.

Imagine the sorrow Jesus felt as these many people walked away – not that He had failed, but they showed that they never really believed.

I had a chemistry teacher in high school, who I talked with after school one day, and he said that he was a Christian.  And then I started bringing some things up to him from the Bible, and he said, “You don’t believe the Bible, do you?”

“Yeah, I like coming for the bread and the coffee hour.  And most of the people are nice.  I enjoy hanging out with them.  I can even get into to old-time music.  But really – Jesus, God in the flesh?  God had to die to make people right with God?  No, it doesn’t make any sense.  And if I was being pushed about believing it, I would leave.”

Jesus told them that keeping the Law won’t save them – that He is God in the flesh – and that anyone who wants to live eternally – forgiven in the Kingdom – must continually eat His flesh and drink His blood – remain united in Him alone through faith alone.

And many of His disciples walked away and never came back.

“So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’  Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.’”

“What about you, Twelve?  What about you that I personally chose to be My disciples?”

As usual, Peter jumped up with an answer for the group:  “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

“Lord, there’s no one else we can go to – of course we are staying.  You Only have the words of eternal life – all that You teach is the Only Way to salvation – that it is through You and of You and by You – there is no other.  You teach salvation and You are salvation.  There are no other options.  There is no other way to be saved and no other person who can save.

“We believe that You are God the Son come to earth in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth to live a perfect life under the Law and to make us right with God.  We have come to know that this is salvation – that You are the truth – because God the Father chose us and dragged us and granted us to believe in You.  God changed our hearts and raised us from spiritual death, and we believe in You Alone for salvation.You are the Holy One of God – You are the Son of Man – God in the flesh.”

The language that Peter uses is clear:  this is a confession of Jesus being God the Savior – the Only Savior, the Savior that Peter believed savingly in – and attributed saving belief to the other eleven.  He understood that his salvation was a work of Divine intercession and change in him – and in all those who believe.

Do we believe that?

Do we believe that Jesus is God the Son, the Only Savior?

Do we believe that God the Father loved a people for Himself and chose us and dragged us and granted us to believe in Salvation through Jesus Alone?

Do we believe that God the Holy Spirit has raised us from spiritual death and applied the Gospel to us?

Do we believe that there is no salvation except through faith alone in Jesus and His Gospel through abiding in Him now and forever?

Are we sure?  Are we clear about Who Jesus is and what He has done?     

Shall many of us walk away?

Peter preached:  “And there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Jesus Alone has the words of eternal life – it is His Gospel Alone – there is no salvation through any one or any method anywhere.

Wake up!  Eternal life hangs in the balance.

Some people on the Internet say that ISIS is bringing people into the US to take over.  Let us take that as a challenge!  Would the members of ISIS be able to recognize you and me as Christians?  Would our witness to Jesus and His Gospel be enough for them to kill us?  Would they catch us talking about the things of Christ and telling others about His Gospel?  May it be so!

Brothers and sisters, if we believe that Jesus Alone has the words of eternal life, and everyone who does not believe and receive Him will suffer God’s Wrath, wouldn’t we want to tell others – to warn them – to tell our friends and family members?  Not to be obnoxious, but to clearly tell them what we believe as the Only Truth?

“But, I’m not good at talking to people.”

OK – invite them to worship with you.

“But, I’m embarrassed; I wouldn’t know what to say.”

Take the fliers in Freeman Hall and hand them to your friends and family and let them read them themselves.  Take copies of Tabletalk and give them to your friends and family – each one has the church name and address on it.

“Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the Twelve?  And yet one of you is a devil.’  He spoke of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.”

God has chosen us to believe and to proclaim His Gospel to others.  But, God saves people, not us.  We ought to do our best to explain what we believe and why, but God chooses who to raise from spiritual death to spiritual life.  He brings people to Himself and causes them to believe the Gospel.

God knows who will believe and when; God knew Judas would betray Jesus from before the Creation – it was all part of the plan.  Jesus chose the Twelve, and He chose Judas because He would betray Him.

If we have believed savingly in Jesus and His Gospel – if we are abiding in Him – let us tell other the words of eternal life.  There’s nowhere else to go.

Let us pray:

Almighty God, we thank You for choosing to send Your Son to be our Savior.  We thank You for the words of eternal life that we know from Your Word and the life, death, and ascension of Your Son.  We ask that any who have not believed would be drawn by You and convicted by the Spirit that Jesus is God the Son and His salvation is the only words of eternal life.  Give us confidence and boldness to tell others what Jesus has done to make the One Way of Salvation.  And may You be please to work through us in the Person of the Spirit to bring many people to life.  For it is in Jesus’ Name, Amen.