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March/April - Pastor's Message

posted Mar 26, 2015, 6:03 PM by Karen Lindsey
Holy Week and Easter are just around the corner.  This time of year has so much significance for Christians everywhere in the world.  But it also has a great deal of personal meaning for our family, and I'm sure yours, as well.  Ron's mom, Marge, died in March (Lent) of 2006.  She was a strong Christian influence on Ron, and also on me after Ron and I were married.  

On Marge's deathbed Ron read these words from Romans 3:21-26:  "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.  He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished -- he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."

As we journey through Holy Week and approach Easter -- the resurrection of our Lord and Savior -- I want to share the commentary for these verses found in my Concordia Study Bible:
"Paul uses the verb 'justify' 22 times, mostly in Romans 2:13-5:1; Galatians 2-3. 
It is translated 'justify' in all cases except two, where it is translated 'declared righteous'.  The term describes what happens when someone believes in Christ as his Savior: From the negative viewpoint, God declares the person to be not guilty; from the positive viewpoint, he declares him to be righteous.  He cancels the guilt of the person's sin and credits righteousness to him.    

"Paul emphasizes two points: 1. No one lives a perfectly good, holy, righteous life.  On the contrary, 'there is no one righteous'; 'all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God'; 'no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by observing the law.'   2. But even though all are sinners, God declares everyone who puts his trust in Jesus not guilty but righteous.  This legal declaration is valid because Christ died to pay the penalty for our sin and lived a life of 
perfect righteousness that can in turn be imputed to us.  Christ's righteousness (his obedience to God's law and his sacrificial death) is credited to believers as their own."

We deserve to be declared guilty.  But God in His grace, mercy and love sent His beloved Son to the cross to bear our guilt and sins, and to take the punishment we deserve.  And because of what Jesus suffered for us, we are given salvation instead of damnation.  We also are given eternal life that begins now as we live a life of faith in Christ in a world run by fear and death.  And speaking of that, our fear of death is also wiped out because we have assurance that God is for us and nothing can separate us from His love.  How should we react to all that God has done for us?

Because Jesus made us right with God, we can be happy and celebrate!  And we do -- it's called Easter.  We celebrate it at the end of Lent/Holy Week, and every Sunday when we gather around God's Word and Sacrament.  We celebrate because Jesus lives, and so will we -- forever!

In Christ,
Pastor Lori