Pastor's Blog

June 2015

A Glorious Church

There are some magnificent churches in this world. Rising above the city of Prague is the glorious St. Vitus Cathedral. With its black gothic spires stretching into the sky and massive stone supports along its sides you can feel its strength and admire its beauty. In London, St. Paul’s Cathedral survived the bombing by the Nazis in World War II. As you walk through the church its beauty and detailed architecture take your breath away. Detailed paintings give you a sense of wonder, and when the organ begins to play, you might think you were getting a taste of heavenly glory. Such beautiful churches in this world…

In Milwaukee, we have some magnificent churches as well. In fact, as I type this, I'm not far from one of them. From the outside, you might not think it was a very glorious church. The church isn’t listed on any historical records. Visitors don't necessarily pop by just to look inside (though many do comment how pretty our church is!). And yet, it's glorious. But I’m not really talking about outside appearances, or architectural design. I’m talking about what makes a church truly glorious. This is the kind of glory that puts the cathedrals of Europe to shame. And when I think about this kind of glorious church, I think of my church, this congregation because this is a congregation planted by Christ. You see, Christ plants a glorious church. It may not look impressive, but it is glorious because it grows by Christ’s power and by his power it is growing into something great.

When churches build on the gospel of Christ--his perfect life, his death on the cross, his resurrection--then they can't help but radiate the glory of God into human hearts.

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The Mistake of the Law

We may have been doing it all wrong! But the problem is, it's too easy.

It's too easy to be motivated by what we should be doing. I have to go to church; I have to be nice to others; I have to be a better parent, child, student, employee, boss. That’s all true; God does want those things for us. But where does this pressure lead you?

Let’s say you do become a better person by obeying all these rules. What do you think of yourself, “Hey, I’m pretty good, aren’t I? I need to make sure I talk a lot about the good decisions I’ve made for God!” We can become arrogant and lose our humility. Or let’s say you don’t keep those laws. What do you think of yourself now? “I’m a horrible person. I’m not good enough, pretty enough, strong enough, smart enough, etc.” We can despair and lose hope. And the really bad part is when we start believing that, it becomes true. If we want to keep the whole law to make God happy, then we had better do it all.

But that’s too late for us, right? And that’s why God had to obliterate the law. Your record of sin was crucified with Christ. You were crucified with Christ. Your sins, your violations, your rule-breaking, it all died there on the cross. Can you hear those hammer blows pounding Christ to the cross? That was for you. Each blow of the hammer was your sin being pinned to a cross so it could be punished once and for all. There is no punishment for sin anymore. It’s been wiped away forever.

The condemnation of the law, which still tries to cry out against us, has been obliterated. And all those enemies of God have been drug through the streets of hell and proclaimed to be powerless in the face of Christ. You are not a victim of the law. You are not a victim of your own disobedience. Christ was the victim and you are set free. Free now to do it all for the right reasons, out of thanks to God.

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For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works... ~ EPHESIANS 2:8-9