After trying to take in all that was said at our Missions night this past Monday, one verse comes to mind: Colossians 1:6,
“All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.”
This scripture was brought to mind because I was still thinking about how hard it is to reach Junior High school students. We discussed how we read scripture, what it means and how we get meaning from it. I shared a concept called S.O.A.P. (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer). This is a practice I’ve learned to use in order to get more out of reading the Bible. The thought was that the gospel isn’t just a set of ABC concepts that save you but rather an A to Z compendium that steers you deeper into it.
What our speaker brought to us was the idea that all our problems in life stem from our failure to apply the gospel. This means I can't move forward unless I learn more thoroughly the content of the gospel and how to apply it to all of my life. Real change doesn’t come independently of the gospel either. God intends to shape and mold us at every point and in every way; that way the gospel defines the way we think, feel and live.
Martin Luther seemed to understand that idea as he used the phrase simul justus et peccator – translated as simultaneously justified and sinful. He knew he was saved from the penalty of sin but he was in daily need of salvation from sin’s power. Since the gospel is the “power of God for salvation” he knew and taught that even for the most sainted of saints and the hardened heart of pagans, the gospel is fully relevant and vitally necessary.
The answer to sin then isn’t to try harder – leave that to AVIS, but rather to come to comprehend the incredible work that Christ did on the cross; then to live in a more vital awareness of that grace every day. The problem with being a Christian isn’t that we don’t try hard enough to be good but rather we haven’t fully accepted the deep ramifications of the gospel and applied its powerful reality to all the parts of our lives.
Our challenge in this world is helping people see that the life of Christ and the gospel doesn’t just ignite our life but it’s also the fuel that keeps it burning. Here is where the S.O.A.P. comes in - making a connection between our life and the scripture. This calls for us to invest the time to let the Word of God filter into our being so that it exposes the idols of our culture and the strongholds of our hearts.
In relation to this scripture think about these two questions:
· If I believe that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” how does that impact my longing for approval, my tendency to be controlling and my fear of the unknown?
· How does the finished work of Christ satisfy my deepest daily needs so that I can experience the liberating power of the gospel every day and in every way?
My answers to these questions show just how far I understand and put into practice the “height and depth and the width and length” of God’s love for me. S.O.A.P. does a body good.
I love you, Lord Jesus, but not as I ought. Purge from my heart all pride and grant me a good memory of my past so that I might love you more when I remember how much you have loved me and forgiven all my sins. Amen.
Some things to be mindful of this week:
· This Saturday, March 20th 6pm we will be lead in a Seder Meal by Jews for Jesus. It will be a great opportunity for the whole family to observe a Passover Meal and see the roots of our traditional Communion Service.
· Our final sermon in the Lenten “Chorus of Voices” will be brought to us by Jan Sinozich from John 12:1-8. My goals was two-fold for this time; first that it would give our Pastors-in-Training an opportunity to experience the pulpit and to show to the congregation how God’s word was working in the lives and practice of each of these people who have expressed a Call on their lives. I hope that you have been challenged by the message and encouraged by their efforts.
· Ladies (and little ladies) don’t forget the Tea and Cookies Easter Bonnet making event Saturday March 27th 10 am in the Education Wing. I’m sure you will want to show off your creations come Easter Sunday! See