2016 On Deeper Reflection
October 27, 2016
The Importance of God’s Word in Today’s World
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it  and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. [4:1] I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.  For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,  and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.  As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
This week we are preparing to celebrate the 499th Anniversary of the Reformation and I thought that this reading from October 16 was most appropriate because we are thinking about the truths that the Reformation taught us. I am especially thinking of the three ‘solas’ which in English are: Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone. This reflection will address the third, Scripture Alone.
Recently I’ve been reminded how much society is turning away from the truth and wandering into myths. People are turning away from God and putting their faith and trust into things like science, reason, and things that are observable in creation. In addition, more trust is being given to secular sources such as government to solve all the problems of the world to the extent that government is claiming more control over people’s lives, telling people that government is better able to determine the truth and teach our children so that they are raised in a manner that best serves society. This is at least true in government’s opinion. With this newfound trust in all things that are claimed to not be religion we, as Christians, must consider where Scripture fits into all of this. And, yes, I do plan to use Scripture to answer that question, so those whose religion is reason, science, or trust in government, I do hope you are receptive to hearing God's word.
As you study scripture you will notice that everything God does is by His Word. Take creation for example, in Genesis 1:3 we read ‘And God said, "Let there be light,"
and there was light.’ Even Jesus’ miracles are based on the words of Jesus, for instance in raising Lazarus, Jesus says in John 11:43, ‘When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice,
"Lazarus, come out." You find this to be true throughout Scripture. God himself confirms this in Isaiah 55:11 “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it
shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it”.
What all of this means is that Scripture, the Word of God takes precedence over everything in creation. Therefore, a Christian is to put Scripture above all that is said in the universe for it was all created by the Word of God and that Word governs everything that happens in the universe. Whenever reason, science, or things we are told we must do by government disagree with God’s Word we, as Christians, must put God’s Word first. For example, science will tell us that the days of this universe are numbered as the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars will all eventually reach the end of their life and as all molecules spreading space will once again be in darkness. Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ will return, that all will be raised from the dead, and that the new creation, a new heaven and earth will go on forever with all the faithful together in perfect relationship with each other and with God.
My final comments on this is that it is important for all Christians to study God’s Word because the arguments from reason, science, government will all be made in such a way that they seem plausible. That is why the original reading of this reflection discusses a person’s “itchy ears.” It is easy to fall into the trap of accepting the non-Scriptural arguments, accepting government’s and other people's opinion of right from wrong and thus letting the Word of God fall into disuse. When God is no longer first in our minds and God’s Word is ignored we can be sure that the suffering and strife that we see growing in the world will continue. Therefore, let us remember that the Reformation 499 years ago gave us back the Scriptures that had fallen into disuse and remember that God speaks to us by Scripture Alone. Therefore, let us study and learn from Scripture so that we can avoid the pitfalls of this world.
May 3, 2016
Our Relationship with God Restored
Rev. 21:1-4, 15-23
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  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."
 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls.  The city lies foursquare; its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal.  He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel's measurement.  The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass.  The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald,  the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.  And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.  And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.  And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
Revelation sure has a strange way of describing the visions that are meant to be the most comforting view we have of the kingdom to come. In this reading he is describing the new Jerusalem that is to be our home forever. It is a cube coming down out of the sky? That’s correct and it is magnificently described as a thing of beauty. It turns out that the shape has a profound and significant meaning. The cube along with the description of the light of the city being the glory of God and having the light of the Lamb is the most joyful description of our restored relationship with God.
Let me begin to describe our restored relationship with God by describing the light before getting into the purpose of that cube. On the first day of creation we read that (Genesis 1:3) ‘God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.’ That light was created out of the glory of God and would have been visible before the creation of the sun, moon, and stars. Yet, due to the fall into sin which broke our relationship to God we have not seen the full glory of God. That light has been hidden from us because seeing it would be too much for sinners. In the reading from Revelation we see this light restored and the new Jerusalem is fully lit by the light of the Lamb and the full glory of God. As people made righteous by the blood of the Lamb, we will be able to see the full glory of God through the light without the need for the sun, moon, and stars. Failure to see this light in this world is an indication of our broken relationship with God due to our sinful nature.
I’ll now move on to the cube. God created us for relationship. When that was lost He promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and He bonded with the decedents of Abraham to bring the Savior, Jesus Christ into the world. While the world awaited the coming of Christ, God still wanted to be with His chosen people. That is why the temple was built with the “Most Holy Place” being a separate chamber inside the temple where God would reside with the people. The ‘Most Holy Place’ was separated from the people to hide the full glory of God, yet the High Priest could enter on the Day of Atonement. Before entering, the High Priest had to make a full sacrifice for his sins and then using incense to fill the Most Holy Place with smoke in order to hide the full glory of God from his view. Because the people of Israel considered a cube to be a perfect shape, one that had all sides and its height equal, therefore the “Most Holy Place” was a cube.
The cube is gone today because at the moment of Jesus’ death on the cross, the curtain closing the cube was torn. God himself is among us in the flesh. He is among us in our churches today, but the full glory of God remains hidden from us. Yes, we get glimpses of it especially as we partake in the Lord’s Supper but what we see is the bread and the wine. We also see glimpses of the glory of God in worship, in our service to others, and as we do good works for the glory of God.
To return to the reading in Revelation, the cube coming down from the sky is in fact the “Most Holy Place.” Within that cube is no longer just the High Priest on the Day of Atonement, but is all those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of Life. That’s the good news of the cube, not only when we are in that cube do we see the full glory of God restored but because we are righteous with the blood of the Lamb we are permitted to be in the Most Holy Place for eternity. It means that our relationship with God has been fully restored. I can think of nothing more comforting than to be with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the Most Holy Place forever. - Pastor Wayne