The following was an illustration that I was going to use in my sermon. I thought it might be a little too gruesome for the pulpit, so I nixed it. I thought I would share it here instead as it still is quite appropriate. It regards the idea of propitiation, that Christ's sacrifice fully satisfies God's wrath on our behalf:
Imagine being on a camping trip. You and a friend have taken some time to “get back to nature.” You head out into the wilderness and find just the perfect place to set up. Once you have pitched your tents and put everything in its place you start a fire and sit down to relax. Just then, a hungry wolf creeps up upon you. There you are, staring right into a ferocious wolf, who is ready to devour you.
But just as the wolf is ready to pounce, your friend steps in front of you. He tells you to run. Just then, the wolf leaps upon him and starts to maul him with his razor sharp teeth. You try to hide, but the only thing you can do is stand paralyzed behind your tent.
When the wolf has finished he begins to step away from the bloodied body of your friend. As he does so, he spots you. However, the rage is no longer in his eyes. His appetite for blood has been satiated and he no longer has the urge to kill. He simply walks away.
This is essentially what happened when Christ became our propitiation. He stood in front of us and took God's wrath upon himself, fully satisfying every urge of God to kill and destroy the first object of his anger.
The only difference is that God does not walk way from us. In Christ, he becomes our friend, whereby he lavishes upon us all the benefits that are due the sons of God.
I've been pounced upon because I expressed that public education is killing the church. The public school advocates say that God doesn't belong to this sphere and that teachers work is purely secular. However, my daughter's lesson yesterday proves how religious views can and must be integrated into a child's education if you are going to raise a child in the fear of the Lord.
My wife and daughter were studying the sufferage movement and the rise of feminism for history. The book was obviously coming at it from a distinctly unChristian perspective. They compared the previous ways of women to that of slavery because women were expected to obey their husbands, were not allowed to vote and did not seek life in the corporate world. They were oppressed by men because they were viewed as having a distinct role within the home and with children.
My wife had a great opportunity to do some rather heavy discipleship. They talked about the textbook's rather weighted opinions and then went to the Bible to read passages about real womanhood, like Genesis 2, Titus 2:3-5, 1 Peter 3:1-6, and Ephesians 5:22-24.
I'm pretty sure that you would never hear that in a public school. I don't think any public education teacher would dare say that a woman's God given role is to be in the home with her children while lovingly submitting to her husband.
They also talked about Margret Sanger (the founder of Planned Parenthood), and my wife said, "I'll tell you, this woman is evil." Imagine hearing that in a government run school. You wouldn't since the government not only supports the education, but also the mass extermination of children that Sanger sought.
So don't tell me that education is to be off limits for Biblical truth. You are either for Him or against Him. There can be no middle ground. God is either pushed out of education so that you can be discipled in the ways of Satan or you can allow Him to enter the sphere of intellectual development so that He can be All in all.
The mountain tops of Good Friday and Easter typically cause us to overlook the significance of the Saturday between them. It usually passes without a lot of thought. Yet it deserves just as much attention as it is a vital part of Christ's mediation.
We confess in our Creed that Christ "descended into Hell." These words may be taken in the metaphorical sense, referring to the excruciating pain Christ suffered in body and soul on the cross. However, the phrase is more appropriately applied to Christ's time in the tomb. After all, this does fit the logical progression of the Creed:
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended into hell.
The third day he rose again, etc.
The Creed points us to how necessary it was for Christ, at least for a limited time, to remain under the power of death. The wages of sin is death. Therefore, Christ not only had to go through the act of dying to redeem his people, he needed to be dead. Were he not, we would have an incomplete salvation. Our souls would live, but our bodies would be left to the ashes.
Christ came to save us though, in both body and soul. He redeems all of that which he created.
We may also note that in laying in the tomb he continued to fulfill all righteousness. That Saturday was the last of the Old Testament Sabbaths. Jesus rested from his work, and he did so in the fullest way possible.
The fourth commandment requires two things: that we rest our bodies from our labors and that we refresh our souls in the worship of the Lord. This is what it means to "keep the Sabbath day holy," and this is exactly what Jesus did. His body rested from its labors while it lay in the tomb. At the same time the soul of Christ was lifted into heaven where it was refreshed by the adulation of the great throng of saints and angels.
We remember that Christ, as to his human nature, was a complete human. When he came to earth he took to himself both a human body and a reasonable soul in order to save us in body and soul. And on that Saturday his soul did not sleep or simply remain comatose. Neither did it descend into the literal place of hell or limbo to set free the former saints awaiting him. His soul, along with the soul of the repentant thief who was hung next to him, ascended into glory immediately upon taking his last breath.
In keeping perfectly this last OT Sabbath, he redeems us from all our NT Sabbath breaking (yes, there is a NT Sabbath to be had. See the last point here.).
What's more is that this gives us assurance that our souls shall be with Christ in heaven upon death. We may know that heaven will be instantly ours upon death. When we last close our eyes in this world, we will open them again to see our Savior's face and the arrayed beauty of Paradise.
Though many will pass this day with few thoughts of its significance, you can see why it is important to pause to meditate upon it. Though there may have seemed to be little activity on Christ's part, the day was filled with redemptive power.
blood stained cross is about.
Yesterday's event though, made me boil, bringing me to the point of wondering if I should interrupt the service to correct the idolatrous notions that were being propagated.
Welcomed to the pulpit by all the ministers in the Ashland County Ministerial Association was the Catholic Church's priest. He, speaking on the third word of Christ spoken from the cross, touted the praises of Mary and her ability to bring you nearer to Jesus.
I had left the sanctuary prior to his taking the pulpit as a small testimony to how scandalous this was. I chose to listen from the back. Yet as he openly propagated his abhorrent Mariology, I felt the agitation expressed in the video. I paced back and forth considering whether or not I should stand up and speak out.
I didn't. I simply left the service altogether, thinking that silence was the better part of discretion this time.
I know that there were certainly some others in the audience who had discernment enough to be grieved by what was said. Others, I'm sure, were happy to hear the twisting of the Scriptures because it sounded so nice that Mary could help us come to Jesus.
[As a side note, if I had stood up and addressed the audience, I would have said among other things: "If you seek Mary's aid, the only thing that she will do to help you is push you through the door that leads straight to hell."]
The sound of it is what got to me. It sounded so much like what you would get from any of your average churches in the Ashland area: "Jesus is your friend. Mary is your friend. Mary can help you be better friends with Jesus."
I know the objection. The Ministerial Society will say, "Well, this is a community event and we are a group that promotes all ministry in Ashland." The church that allows any old person to enter the pulpit will say, we don't really have any control over it because it was organized by others.
But that is that kind of mamby pamby Christianity that is killing the church in this town.
These objections also come from the same people that always says they want to help promote the welfare of Ashland. They don't see that they are only throwing fuel upon the fire that is ravaging the land.
O that we had men who would truly take a stand for Christ. Men who will slay the wolves who attack the fold of God and guard their pulpits with holy jealously.
The latest additions may be of particular interest: Samuel Miller's sermon entitled The Danger of a Life of Pleasure is quite a sobering message, especially for our care free, hedonistic age.
I'm really fond of the most recent production too: R.L. Dabney's famous sermon, The World Ripe to Harvest, Reap or It Perishes. This one is sure to get your evangelistic juices flowing. He urges fervency in missions by reminding you that there is only one means of salvation and vast portions of the world shall perish if these souls are not reaped by the ministry of the gospel.
There's some good stuff on the way too! For instance, I'm currently working on Jonathan Edward's famous message, Heaven is a World of Love. To contemplate the excellencies of heaven is exceedingly hard. Yet, at the same time, it is exceedingly wonderful. When this sermon is released, it is sure to be some of the finest spiritual food.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.