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Yes! A New Heaven and a New Earth Revelation 21: 1-7 First St Johns Apr 24, 2016

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who look forward to the resurrected, eternal life of fulfillment and order said … AMEN!

So this is where it all comes together. Starting from the Garden of Eden, all of the different aspects of Jesus in the Old Testament, leading to the incarnation/the life of Jesus in the New Testament. Certainly the peak of the Bible for us is the death of Jesus, His sacrifice as a payment of our sins, and then comes the resurrection. The way has been made for us to be in relationship with the Father, to restore what has been broken by sin for so long, but if there is no resurrection, then we still die to eternity. Our hope and promise is in Jesus’ resurrection, that’s why we worship on Sundays, every Sunday being a mini-Easter, a time to come and be blessed and nourished by all the sacraments to be strengthened in our spirit in order to continue to live and function for Christ in a dark world, but also to have the assurance of eternal life. The life we are promised in the resurrection of Jesus and ultimately in our resurrection. Chuck Swindoll quotes S Lewis Johnson: “The resurrection is God’s ‘Amen!’ to Christ’s statement, “It is finished.’”[1] Not that Jesus is finished, or all hope is finished. No! It is the end of hopelessness and despair, the end of separation, the old is swept away, the kingdom is here, it is in Jesus, in the presence of the Holy Spirit and ultimately is all of reality. The old world, the world we live in day to day is no more, it has been destroyed, swept away. Sin, death, disease, the breaking down of our bodies, the failures of age and disability. All of those things are no longer a factor. The resurrection is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that in Him we have life and life more abundant. In the resurrection, it is the ultimate of abundant life. We are no longer limited by death and disease, the result of sin. John writes: “…for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and the sea was no more.” The “sea” in Jewish literature was always a metaphor, for chaos, destruction, lack of order, control. The first earth passing away means the world of sin, chaos. The desire in today’s world is for fulfillment, happiness. How many times do you hear people say that, see someone post in social media “I just want to be happy.” How’s that going to work out? Do any of us see any real happiness in the world today? No. You just don’t. I don’t care what your situation is, at some point discontent, envy, want, sneak in and well “you’re just not going to be happy until…” When that happens then what? Yea …, sin! “Well I’m entitled to be happy”, we hear people say that over and over today. This is the first period in the history of the world, where people genuinely feel entitled to happiness. The more they expect, the more their definition of happiness expands, what is the ultimate result? Unhappiness. OK, I won the race this time, but how about the bigger race next time? How about the same race next year? I’m not saying we shouldn’t be motivated and strive to improve. But when we tie it to happiness and place our trust there instead of in Jesus, you’re not going to be happy. We’ve said this before, there is joy in Christ, there is the hope and promise of what He does for us. Certainly in this passage that hope and promise is being plainly spelled out: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” What we have right here, right now, this will all pass away, this is a lead pipe guarantee. This is God’s promise to us that we who are in Christ will be a part of a new earth, the ugliness and putrid death of the old earth is gone. In this new world, our new resurrected life, this world of the here and now will be a vague memory. And since we will have eternal life in this new world, this life will fade even further in our memory, this life on earth is so short. Life in the eternal resurrection will be so long and obscure the pain and heartbreak of this sinfilled world.
Historical context. Edward Englebrecht writes: “At the time that Revelation was written Christians were being terribly persecuted by the Roman emperor Domitian.

The Book of Revelation reveals Jesus in all His majesty and glorious victory. Its pictures and descriptions are true, but not literal. Many early Christians endured unimaginable pain simply because they refused to give up their faith in Jesus. They were thrown to lions and other wild beasts while onlookers cheered. They were set on fire, hurled down cliffs, skinned alive and reportedly even boiled in oil. The cruelty was off the charts! As believers watched friends and family members being tortured, it would have been easy to give up hope. It would have been easy to deny their faith. The Book of Revelation helped God’s people stand firm despite the storms that roared all around them. The book has one focused message: Jesus is victorious and He is coming soon!”[2]

The Book of Revelation has been a source of hope and promise through the centuries. Even for those who may not be suffering from physical persecution, we Christians today know that our hope comes from this passage. We should remember and celebrate what Jesus did for us on the cross. We should remember and celebrate that He has been resurrected. These aren’t general, abstract ideas! These are the hope and promise we have of eternal life: “Behold I make all things new.” And we know that promise is for us, the old that we live in now is gone. The new will be an earth beyond our imagination and of such promise and potential that will astound us. Hold on to that hope and promise. The grittiness of sin and death will soon be over, the world God prepares for those He loves, those who are His in Jesus, His children, will be the world of bliss, of genuine happiness, what is now a vision of breathtaking promise that will be for us the reality of eternal, joyous, exciting life in a very physical world, that will contain wonders that make today’s modern technology look childish.

When John writes that he sees “a new earth”, Spiros Zodhiates writes: “New, as opposed to old or former and hence also implying better, … Also for renewed, made new, and therefore superior, more splendid. … Metaphorically, speaking of Christians who are renewed and changed from evil to good by the Spirit of God; a new creation…”[3] This is why the new world is only promised to Christians. It will be a world that God has created that will only accommodate those whose lives are in Jesus, who live together knowing life in the Holy Spirit. There won’t be room or tolerance for those who insist on the things of the world. Who chose to create strife, grief, greed, for their own ends. As Christians we trust God’s will, we want a world that conforms to His Word and not to the will of those who reject Him and think that they can do things better than Him. If someone refuses God’s will, how could they live in a “new earth” that is entirely about the Father and His will? Our earthly existence is about sorting out those who want to live in Jesus and who will persevere and overcome according to God’s will. That is what the new earth is all about. Not about those who worship their own will and have lived in this world by their own, limited, sinful judgment. I want to live in the perfect, holy, unlimited world of true life, not a world that men and women chose to mess up according to their selfish desires. Randy Alcorn writes: “believers in particular (those with God’s Spirit within) are aligned with the rest of creation, which intuitively reaches out to God for deliverance. We know what God intended for mankind and the earth, and therefore we have an object for our longing. We groan for what creation groans for – redemption.”[4] Paul writes in Romans 8 that the whole creation has been groaning. We trust that the resurrection will be marvelous beyond our comprehension, Alcorn writes: “…the Master Artist, will put us on display to a wide-eyed universe. Our revelation will be an unveiling, and we will be seen as what we are, as what we were intended to be – God’s image-bearers. We will glorify Him by ruling over the physical universe with creativity and camaraderie, showing respect and benevolence for all we rule.”[5] The promise we read about today should take our breath away. Renew us not just for hope for tomorrow, but also with a heart to share what our promise is. For our heart to ache for those who do not have any promise and to reach out to them to share the glorious world that we are promised in Jesus Christ.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

[1] Dr Charles Swindoll     Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotations. P 492

[2] Concordia’s Complete Bible Handbook Edward Engelbrecht General Editor p 442

[3] Spiros Zodhiates Executive Editor “Key Word Study Bible” p 2193

[4] Randy Alcorn “Heaven” p 127

[5] Ibid

Body of Christ 1 Corinthians 12: 12-31a First Saint Johns January 31, 2016

[for the audio version click on the above link]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who are part of the Body of Christ which is His Church said … AMEN!

The Apologetics Study Bible prefaces this discussion this way: “The church in Corinth was in some degree of turmoil, and Paul wrote this letter in response to some disturbing reports he had heard from the church as well as by way of reply to a set of questions the church had sent to him.”[1]

Have to give the Corinthians credit, they did realize that they were not where they should be and took the initiative to write to Paul and acknowledge that, and ask for guidance. As Christians we could take a cue from that. It’s a guy thing, if I’m lost I’m going to keep driving around thinking I will find the way. What happens? You usually end up more lost than you started. Today’s sermon is related to the last sermon in that we are given gifts in order to serve God and serve His church. But it is more than just properly utilizing your gifts, it’s understanding that as a Christian it’s not just about me. It is about the community, community is made up of many parts, the Holy Spirit guided you to be a part of this community. All the parts of your body are important. If you do not have all the parts then you are limited in what you can do. The church is the same way and this is also about your stewardship in the church. When all the parts of the Body, the Church, are working to the level that God designed for them and placed them together for, the Body/the Church functions at its finest level and serves each other and our neighbors much more effectively. The Corinthian church was sadly dysfunctional, it wasn’t the Body of Jesus, it was each man and woman for themselves. Much like today’s world; what am I getting out of this, I do for me let everyone else handle their own life. If I’m an eye, well too bad for the rest who can’t see. Imagine First St Johns where we have those who are so gifted in so many things, and yet chose to keep their gifts to themselves. Next week is our Chili-dog/bingo bash, what if Marge decided not to share her award winning chili? We would all be the lesser for it.

Paul writes that in baptism, in that new life that we are given, we are baptized into one body. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we are or do, it matters that we are all equally brought into the Body of Christ through baptism. Likewise we all eat the Body of Christ and drink His blood, all equally, all to our soul’s health. If we are all equally baptized and share in the Body and Blood of Jesus, doesn’t that mean that we also bring to the Body our gifts that make the Body stronger?

One aspect that seems to be ignored in today’s world is the understanding of synergism. Together we are much stronger in our individual life and in the Body of Christ by bringing our time, treasure and talent together, not withholding it and keeping it for ourselves. It is the synergism of the Body of Christ that not only helps us to grow and strengthen as a person, but also as a church. I bet you that any player in the NFL would like to be on the Carolina Panthers right now, than they would the 3-13 Tennessee Titans! You can be a superstar, but if you are in it just for yourself, no one’s really going to know you and you’re sure not going to be getting a Super Bowl ring anytime soon. If you’re Cam Newton, everyone knows you and you’re probably getting fitted for your Super Bowl ring right now.

Jesus has put together His church for a time and a place and a reason. He has made you part of His church in this time and place. For a tiny band, we had a 2015 season that would make any church sing and praise! We came together as the Body of Christ and in God’s strength proceeded to make a mark for His Kingdom in this community. That is because people put aside their individual agendas and came together as His Church to work His will. We all recognized that we’re baptized and given new life in the same water as everyone who is part of First Saint Johns. We all ate the same Body and drank the Same Blood of Jesus as everyone here and stepped up to collectively and in a positive and uplifting way build the Body of Christ in York! One of you were the eye, one the arm, one the leg and all came together in the Holy Spirit’s brain, vision and guidance to bring us together to accomplish so much in bringing the Gospel of Jesus to York. If someone chose not to come together, the rest realized the importance of what was being done and were used by the Holy Spirit to compensate for those who chose to withhold their gifts. Likewise for those who chose to take and to be a drain on Christ’s Body, others were guided to work around those who were hindering the advance of the Kingdom. Ben Paynter writes in Men’s Health Magazine quoting the journal Philosophical Transactions “… that men throughout the ages have clustered in tribes to stay motivated, embrace risks, conquer pain and build empires.” The Kingdom of God is the greatest empire and we as the Body of Christ, His Church, here at First Saint Johns are an integral part of the Kingdom. We have been clustered together by the Holy Spirit so that we can motivate each other, embrace the risks that we have taken. We have conquered pain, we have overcome the obstacles others have thrown in the path of Jesus’ Church. But it could only happen because, unlike the Corinthian Church we chose to take the difficult path. The result? Many have been touched by the church to hear the Gospel. If you have been listening to the radio station, the platform that we have all helped to build, was used by Bill Stockwell to broadcast a powerful message of the scourge of heroin addiction that is having a destructive impact on the York greater community. You all here, as members of this church had an impact on the world that far outstrips anything you could have done individually. You submitted to the will and leading of Jesus and accomplished far more than you would have if you decided: “If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” Everyone, even those who did not think they had strength, stamina, skill or resources, decided that they would only grow and serve each other and themselves by bringing their gifts and blessings together to serve their part of the Body of Christ here at First Saint Johns.

Okay, no one’s going to be getting sized for a Super Bowl ring, but I have no doubt that for those who came together and overcame in order to bring about such great service for the Kingdom he or she will be the recipient of great treasure in heaven. You have followed Jesus’ promise: “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Because we have come together, because we have been good stewards, because we have acted like the Body of Christ we have laid up that treasure in heaven. That treasure in heaven will make a Super Bowl ring look like something you can get out of a gumball machine.

The Blackabys write: “If you are not a part of a caring community of believers, you are missing out on what God designed you for. You are also in danger of falling into sin. You must link your life with others who are seeking God’s will. Seek to be a person who willingly joins others in carrying out God’s assignments. Strive to be a source of support and encouragement that those around you need.”[2]

Let’s grow in our stewardship. How much more can we give of our time, talent and treasure in order to accomplish more for the Body of Christ in the world? We have seen what our mustard seed faithfulness has done in the past year. What can we do this year and the next? It doesn’t have to be a huge feat, so often the smallest mercies, gifts, blessings that you bestow on a young man or woman, on just one who is less fortunate, have effects that echo through years, decades. How would the Holy Spirit guide His church to use that extra money you give now to have an impact on the Body of Christ that will ring through our community for the good of so many, for years to come?

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

[1] The Apologetics Study Bible p 1707

[2] Blackaby’s Experiencing God Day by Day p 327

Saying “God” doesn’t mean you know Him

TP (this person) I’ve never been an overly religious person, which is to say that I do not believe in organized religion. I think that the relationship one has with his/her diety should be personal, not choreographed. And even though I’m not a bible beater, I do believe in a Christian god, and I try to do my best in living a life that follows the rules.
Last night, it was proven to me beyond any doubt that God has his protective hand over my family and me.

In short, God’s protective hand was over my family and my house last night. There is no reason other than that that our house still stands, that no one was hurt, and that all we need to get this morning is a new dryer plug and electric box. (NB: I deleted some of the detail)

My comment: Jim Driskell Praise God, maybe He is using this to show how much He loves and protects you and wants to build a relationship with you and your family. You expect God to be on call for you, but otherwise live your life regardless of Him. How would you feel if that was your relationship with your parents, children, husband? God wants your relationship to grow with Him and that is what His church is about.

TP (this person’s reply): And responses like that are exactly why I left organized religion in favor of building a more personalized relationship with God.

AP (another person’s) And to add to that, TP leads a better Christian life than many judgemental, bible thumping so called Christians I know.

Ah, wow, Jesus died for these person’s but hey it’s my way, we’ll do it our way. We have no idea who this god is, or how we get to know him. Don’t try to tell us about Him “ESV James 2:19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe- and shudder!” OK, you know there’s a god, and….? Just as strange is someone piping in, who doesn’t know me, and doesn’t let that get in the way and passes judgment on me and that’s OK? You can “believe”, but that doesn’t put you in a saving relationship with Him.

OK, you disagree with me, you think that being part of the Body of Christ is somehow a negative, or at least not for you. OK (?) Can this person even begin to articulate what it’s all about? The answer is kind of obvious, I’m not interested, it’s going to work out the way I want it to, I don’t need to know, it’s all about me and my opinion no matter how uninformed that opinion is is all that matters because I know all I want to know.

Kind of a dangerous game to play: “Sure there’s a god, but despite my lack of knowledge I’m going to assume that he will play it out the way I want.” How does that kind of world view really play out? Is that something God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) should honor and reward?

Our all holy, just Father wanted to be in relationship with the people who He created and who then subsequently told to Him to shove off. In order for Him to restore that relationship, in His justice, at His sacrifice He gave up His Son as the payment for all the wrong that we did, that He told us not to do. Believe me I know plenty about wrong (of course sin) and because of what He did for me, in order to restore me to Him, He chose to put my sin on His Son who died in order to pay the penalty for that sin and bring me to Him as His new creation in Jesus. I sure don’t have a way to know God or be in relationship with Him, He has to do it all and guide me to Jesus as my Savior, which He did for me.

For all those who chose to reject all that, how do you know? Is God some sort of indulgent parent who really doesn’t care what his children are in to? He’s just going to make everything all right regardless? I’m sure the response would be, I don’t need all that Jesus stuff, I’m a good person (because I say so), I do good things (if I think they should be done and will benefit me) and I deserve everything to be about me and work out for me.

That’s the world’s logic, not just TP’s. I have never heard anyone really justify that logic, it’s just that’s the way it is and stop trying to confuse me. And of course we get the other person, who decides to jump in and uses the standard adolescent response “judgmental”. Please stop that! Whenever I see that I know that person doesn’t know what they’re talking about, especially in terms of the Bible. It’s just a typical adolescent ploy to try to shut people up so that the adolescent isn’t forced to consider other points. They’re right everyone should know it, shut up and just listen to them. Seriously, if you can’t discuss beyond “judgmental” you need to keep it to yourself and listen. When you say “judgmental”, anyone with a level of intellect knows that you’re just trying to bully, that you don’t know what you’re talking about and you, frankly, don’t care.

Yea I know, again, being a little too caustic and sarcastic. But we as Christians can’t leave that kind of rationalizing unanswered. Look I truly pray that God is using this little casualty as a wake up call to someone who obviously needs it and I pray for the rest of TP’s family. As a Christian I’m certainly called to pray for TP and other TPs and pray that they will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior: “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”  (John 14:6) But to look me in the face and expect me to accept their personal vacuousness and the various vacuousnesses of the world, that’s just not having any kind of critical thinking. That’s living in a world where you think everything is your way and for your convenience. That’s not the world and people who think this way are going to end up in a very sad and difficult place, bitter and angry and alone. I pray that won’t happen to anyone who God guides me to witness to. That’s just to miserable for me to contemplate. So certainly I keep TP and others like them in prayer, that God softens their heart and brings them to true knowledge in their Savior.

What Christmas Means to Me

What Christmas Means to Me.

The above link is from Russel and Pascal, an atheist and a Christian, respectively. I really appreciate the following from Pascal:

“Christmas is the story of God’s spirit completely entering mortal body and soul in Jesus Christ.  God’s spirit navigated the humanity he created.  God’s spirit was willingly and intentionally contained in the frailty of a human body with human mind, will and emotions.  God’s spirit did what we do – – suffer.  Christmas is the story of compassion, literally suffering with.  The Buddha did not suffer with me, he taught me how to avoid it by divorcing attachment.  The prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, did not suffer with me.  He taught me how to submit to God and how to conquer.  The pantheon of Hinduism did not suffer with me.  They taught of creation, destruction, and the fire that synthesizes the two in daily life.  Jesus suffered.”

No other faith truly shares the human condition in the way that Christianity does, and Christianity does it in a way that we call all related to in terms of the suffering and the humbleness of normal life. All other beliefs try to tell us there is a way to avoid the human condition. God the Son was born in the flesh lived a humble life and as God suffered and died for us. Not what we do, which is the theme of all other religions, Christianity is what God has done for us. Freedom from the sin and oppression of this world only comes to those who are in Christ in the resurrection. The resurrection, the eternal life that we live the way God intended us to live, in peace, comfort and perfection. Life and life more abundant.

The Gates of Hell

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit. And all those who say “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” said … AMEN.
Jesus and His disciples are in the district of Caesarea Philippi. which is north of Capernaum, in the north of Israel, near the Syrian/Lebanon borders. Look at the cover of your bulletin, this is a temple of Zeus and Bacchus that was built by Philip the Tetrarch of this district. Philip was the son of Herod the Great, one of the few surviving sons. Since both he and his father owed heir titles to the Romans, they were careful to flatter the Romans to keep them happy and Philip built this temple to Roman Gods. Philip wasn’t exactly Jewish, he used his quasi Jewish status when it suited him and likewise switched to Roman “gods” when it suited his purpose. Philip married Salome, you might remember that Salome was the daughter of Herod and Herodias and after she danced for Herod asked for John the Baptist’s head. Yea, these people were more than a little messed up. Philip had enlarged the city and named it after Caesar and himself, which seems a little presumptuous. You can imagine, the Jews in this area hated Philip for his various offenses and saw this temple as a blasphemy, a sacrilege against their Jewish religion and they referred to this temple as the “Gates of Hell”. According to legend, this is where Jesus and the twelve disciples were camping when today’s reading took place. You can kind of picture them sitting around the campfire. Things are starting to come to a head, in the very next chapter the same Peter, with John and James are going to climb a mountain with Jesus and see Him transfigured and God the Father declaring Jesus to be His Son. For those who like to deny that Jesus is God the Son, seems pretty hard to dispute Peter’s confession, Jesus’ confirmation and then the Father confirming His Son. If Jesus isn’t God the Son, seems a big fuss is being made.
There are a few things going on in this passage and they might seem a little random.
Peter has his failures, and they’re pretty huge and he also has his high points, no question this is a high point. No doubt Peter is sure that this Jesus is someone pretty special. But when Jesus says “…who do you say I am”, Peter didn’t seem to hesitate. ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter’s saying a few things here and this temple is the effective backdrop of this exchange. You are the promised one. Christ isn’t a name, it’s a title. The Hebrew word Mesi,an is the equivalent word of Christ or cristo,j which means anointed one. According to John MacArthur Mesian in the Hebrew: “refers in the Old Testament to prophets (1 Kings 19:16), priests (Lev 4:5, 16) and kings (1 Sam 24: 6, 10). In the sense that all of them were anointed with oil. This anointing symbolized a consecration for ministry by God. Jesus Christ, as the Anointed One, would be the ultimate Prophet, Priest and King (Is 61:1, John 3:34) … Peter declares his faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah.”1
Peter really stepped up and Jesus proclaims, “Blessed are you Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Jesus is saying that you are special Peter, God has chosen you to proclaim this, you know who I AM to the depths of your soul. Not because you had some great insight but because the Father chose you to declare that I AM the promised Messiah, the one who is the promised Savior of mankind.
Jesus builds on this, since you know this, I can also declare that I will build my church on your proclamation and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against My church. Church in the Greek refers to those who are called out, the Christian community of saints. Not just this building, or the Lutheran Church, all the saints, all those who are hagios, holy, separated people of Jesus, you.
If you look at this picture again, you might be able to tell that this temple has been carved out of stone, this whole thing is one big rock. So when Jesus says on this rock, on top of this pagan temple is where my church, my people will be. When I was there, hearing the tradition, I could almost see Jesus pointing over His shoulder. You see that big rock, that people here call the gates of Hell, my church is going to be built on this temple to false “god’s” and it will never prevail against My church, My church will always be on top.
I also took from this, that Jesus is making a direct reference to the idea that all false “gods” are of Satan. That all false “gods” are actually demons, evil spirits who have corrupted people to believe that they are “gods”. Jesus is saying that these false “gods” and we know that Satan is referred to as the “god of this world” John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11 will never overcome the Kingdom of Heaven.
In four more chapters Jesus will make His triumphant entry into Jerusalem to establish His victory over the world. He will be sacrificed then, He will die as payment for all of our sins and then will rise again in triumphant victory over sin and death. Sin and death are the very essence of Satan and His demons. They may rule the world now, but Jesus’ promise to His disciples and we are His … disciples, that in the end when it really matters He will defeat Satan and reestablish the world the way that God had created it.
In establishing His church, Jesus begins to empower His church. His church will possess the keys to heaven on earth. This means He has given His church the authority to declare what is sin and bind that sin. No other institution has that authority, only the church of Jesus, which the Lutheran Church certainly is. Our authority is based on Scripture and we bind or loose based on God’s Word. Because of God’s Word, we know what God has already bound, who He has locked heaven against. We are simply declaring what has been bound, and in a sense, enforcing that binding from what God has declared.
The world may try to deny the authority and even the legitimacy of the church, but Jesus has certainly declared the church’s authority in this passage. The church, made up of those who are separated, declared holy, will be those who have not just authority, but also responsibility to be the instrument of God’s will.
To those who ignore the church, deny the church has any real meaning, Jesus is clearly establishing His church. The disciples, represented by Peter, have recognized who Jesus is and that He is the promised One of God. He is the anointed One, anointed Prophet, Priest and King and now Jesus has established His church and declared that His disciples make up that church and they have the authority to represent Jesus. As His apostles, His sent ones they, and us, will do the things that the church is responsible to do, to declare the will of Jesus in the world. For those who think that “worship” is on the golf course or the beach, Jesus is saying these people are my church, they will lead in worship, do the work of the church. Anything else will only be personal preference and idolatry.
Take some time this week to think about how that looks, what does that mean to the world? Certainly it is proclaiming the Gospel, He who died to pay for our sins and who rose to give us the only way to eternal life. It is also going to those who are living a life that rejects Jesus and chooses to only be concerned with their own desires. The church is the institution that Jesus empowered to baptize, to be His instrument to bring people into the Kingdom of heaven. His church has been given the responsibility to offer the life saving Blood and Body of Christ. His church is responsible for preaching His proclaimed Word so that all will be able to hear the Good News of forgiveness and salvation in Jesus. Take some time to think of how that should look to the world as we exercise that authority here at First St Johns.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.