Sometimes lost in our disagreements within God’s church are the things that really matter. We argue about doctrine, but often fail to realize that we are justified by our faith in the Risen Christ, alone. Not by our works and not because we cling to sound doctrine. But, sound Christian doctrine does matter, and it matters greatly. When we are marked by our Lord as His, we no longer are dead within our sin. We are a new creation. We turn away from the flesh and reach for the Spirit. In our efforts to please the One we love, we endeavor to obey His commands. We fill our lives with all the things that bring us closer to our Savior. Even though we are no longer under the law, we obey out of our love for Him who took our sins to the cross, suffered and died so that we may live. Whatever your sin, it does not matter to our Lord, who forgives us if we only ask for His forgiveness. Jesus said, Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Some would cite this as a reason to allow those who fall into sin, to continue in sin because we are also sinners, no better than they, with no authority to offer correction. On the contrary, if a brother or sister falls into sin, it is our responsibility as a child of God to encourage that person back to the narrow path.
This is why it is so disturbing to those true to the Lord when they see a church fall away from Him, enamored with the things of this world. Our Lord and Savior hung on that cross, bearing the sins of all humanity for all time. He sacrificed Himself, suffering a horrible, excruciating death, receiving the punishment that we so justly deserve. And part of that punishment entailed God totally withdrawing from Jesus, leaving Him utterly alone, having to endure the awful burden of the past, present and future sins of the entire world. He offered Himself for us, each and every one of us. His blood bought us our salvation. Try to understand the suffering our Savior endured for us. Pilate had Jesus scourged as part of his punishment. A scourge was a cat of nine tails whip with wide metal hooks that actually tore out pieces of flesh with every lash. Every sin we commit caused those pieces of flesh to be torn out of our Savior. And death by crucifixion was slow and extremely painful. One had to hold up their entire body weight to keep from suffocating, then when totally exhausted, their own body weight would cause them to suffocate. And Jesus had to hold up His weight with limbs that were nailed to the cross. All this because he loved each and every one of us, with only one string attached, that we believe.
But, out of this terrible suffering came something so wonderful, so amazing that the world has been changed forever. Jesus defeated the powers of death and rose from the dead, paving the way for us to also defeat death. Once we believe, we are no longer under penalty of death. This world too shall pass away, but when we leave this world, something so very special awaits us. Our Lord and Savior promised in John 14:1-4, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” The way to our Father’s house is through faith in the Risen Christ. When we believe. we are born again and become a new creation. When we believe we die to this world and begin our new life as a child of Christ. Nothing is the same. We live differently than we did before. We live to please our God.
John 14:23-24, Jesus said “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” As Christians, we love our Lord above all else. We follow what He has taught. We joyfully obey God’s law. We look forward to our new life with our Lord. Jesus Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!