Archive for June, 2015

Hope in Hopeless times

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

“Hope in Hopeless times”

 

Lamentations 3:22-31, Mark 5: 21-43

 

StMarks The reading from Lamentations was written at a time when God’s people had lost everything; their city and nation; their temple and their very freedom. Things could hardly be worse than that. Except for the family in our Gospel reading; who had lost the life of their young darling daughter: what a tragedy! Yet we are reminded by our Lord that in both situations that all is not lost. We still have every reason to live in hope. For the Lord is still God; and he is our portion. We can still live in hope even in the very worst of times – even in the face of death itself.

These reading could well be called hope for the hopeless times and with that in mind we might well say to ourselves that this doesn’t apply to us here now so let’s just switch off and change the subject. Yet, I would be very surprised if there are not of us who even now, are going through very difficult times: some worse than others. But we also need to remember that all of us at some time or other will go through our difficult times, and we will have to face death itself. The question is, what is or is going to be our source of hope in those times of difficulty and even hopelessness. Difficulties and hopelessness as seen in the Middle East and even within the land of the free, the U.S.A. whereas mentioned by the Reverend Fred Nile on the ABC T.V. show Q&A where Christians are being taken to court for adhering to their faith.

In “Pastors School” a lecturer mentioned that it is not your job to purposely seek out to be persecuted because that would be silly, but it is your job to face it when it comes and as Christians that’s the same for all of us in whatever form it may take.

And indeed it would seem that we are in interesting times where to be in the world but not of the world will certainly get attention one way or another because as one famous social critic declared our Contemporary culture is, in his words a “culture of narcissism.” Narcissism is vanity, self-admiration, self-centredness and importance  and tragically, the Church is not immune to this virus because at some point during the last quarter century it became all-too-common to stop proclaiming a gospel directed at people’s real spiritual needs and instead focus on the wants and desires of potential church goers, and so more than mirroring the first century church, this conduct reflects more the way of how a coffee franchise markets overpriced coffee to potential consumers.

For example, conventional wisdom in evangelicalism today is that suffering is the exception, not the norm for the believer. Moreover, if a Christian does suffer it is quite possibly because of sin in his or her life. Many segments of the church’s—immersed in a culture of happy, prosperous consumers—have failed their constituency by not faithfully proclaiming what the Bible says about the reality of suffering.

But suffering in the Christian life is the rule, not the exception. From the day Christ called us to follow Him he fully disclosed two prerequisites: denying ourselves and taking up our cross. When Saul of Tarsus was converted on the road to Damascus, he didn’t experience a T.V. evangelist “big tent” type healing. On the contrary, God blinded him, left him in that condition for days and sent a reluctant evangelist by the name of Ananias to inform him of how much he would suffer for the name of Christ (Acts 9:15).

And suffer he did. Consider what Paul endured: five times beaten with 39 stripes, three times beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked three times, a night and a day floating in the sea, danger of all kinds, weary and in pain, hungry and thirsty, naked and cold. And to add insult to injury God refused to answer his prayer for healing from whatever was ailing him—a thorn in his flesh. Paul was told to be content with grace in the midst of his sufferings (2 Corinthians 11:1).

How did Paul respond to his sufferings?

I will glory in the things which concern my infirmities (2 Corinthians 2:30).

I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand …henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto them also who love His appearing (2 Timothy 2:8).

The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen (2 Timothy 2:18).

How could Paul rejoice in his sufferings and give glory to God? The answer lies in a full reading of 2 Timothy 3:1, written in prison just prior to his execution. Note the use of the word “love” five times in these two chapters: lovers of self (3:2); lovers of money (3:2 – “covetous” in some translations); lovers of pleasure (3:4); love his appearing (4:8); loved this present world (4:10).

One of the five loves mentioned stands in stark contrast to the other four: loving the appearing of Jesus Christ.

When we live in anticipation of seeing Jesus and hearing Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: enter into the joy of your Lord,” we can endure suffering. Why?  Because such a focus helps us realize that the worst thing that happens to us here and now can never separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. With our focus not on self but Jesus, we more fully realize the truth of 2 Corinthians 2:17: “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

The tragedy is that much of contemporary evangelicalism has sold the future and eternal “weight of glory” for the immediate and transient satisfaction of “your best life now.” As a result, when Christians encounter difficultly they are ill-prepared to deal with it biblically: the storms come, the winds blow and “Cultural Christian” is blown away because there was no firm, biblical foundation for life (Matthew 7:24).

In contrast, the English Baptist John Rippon wrote in 1787 of the believer’s firm foundation:

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

In Jesus we have a foundation not only for this life, but for all eternity. Therefore, come what may, the Christian can proclaim, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalms 73:26).

So the encouragement we have here again is for us to look away from ourselves and the things of this world, to the Lord Jesus Christ and his unfailing love toward us. Sure we still have to live and work in this world, and we have to be real; and have to be involved and active our society, but our hope now is not centered on ourselves, and the things that our world trusts. Instead we remember that the Lord God Almighty is in control, and that he has our best interests at heart. Even if at times it may not look that way.

 Our assurance that this is the case for us, we only look to Jesus Christ our Lord and savior. He not only raised that little girl from the dead, but he himself rose again after dying on the cross for us. So now there is hope for us in hopeless times. There is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory and honor now and always. AMEN.

Divine Wisdom for Sufferers

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

Job 38:1-11

 

DIVINE WISDOM FOR SUFFERERS

StMarksTwo articles I read this week:

(Headline) IS the world going mad? Military posturing is quietly reaching new extremes in Europe, the Mediterranean and the South China Sea. And the provocative bluster has just reached new heights.

The source was anonymous. But the mouthpiece has a measure of credibility. High profile military analyst and former US Naval War College lecturer John Schindler tweeted last week: “Said a senior NATO (non-US) GOFO to me today: ‘We’ll probably be at war this summer. If we’re lucky it won’t be nuclear.’ Let that sink in

(Headline) THE families of the victims killed at a historic black church in Charleston have told the suspected gunman that they forgive him as he made his first court appearance.

Accused Dylann Roof, 21, appeared via video and showed no emotion as five victims’ relatives read statements.

“I forgive you and my family forgives you,” said Anthony Thompson, a relative of Myra Thompson, 59, one of those killed in the Wednesday night attack inside the Emanuel AME Church. “But … take this opportunity to repent. Repent and confess and give your life to Christ and change your ways. You’ll be better off than you are now.”

“May God have mercy on you,” said Felicia Sanders, the mother of 26-year-old victim Tywanza Sanders. “Every fibre in my body hurts, and I will never be the same.

Martin Luther at one stage could not understand why the book of Revelations with its graphic images could be in our bible that is so full of grace. Until that is to when under persecution and potential assignation he remarked that it then “travelled” with him like a trusted old friend.

Likewise for many for many people there’s no Book of the Bible that speaks more helpfully to them after suffering loss than the Book of Job with its honest examination of all the raw emotions we experience when overtaken by loss. An agonisingly honest Book that reveals sympathy for sufferers in that it let’s its readers know that someone else knows how they feel.

Job suffered what we do, in the vital areas of family, health and material possessions. Just when he thought he was doing everything right, everything went wrong for him. He refused, however, to accept the role of victim. His initial response was: “We take the good days from God, why not also the bad ones?” Satan sought to discover if Job served God out of self-interest – because of all the blessings God had given him – or out of an unconditional trust in God. Nowhere in Job’s debate with his three friends over the reason why we suffer, did he place his hope in his wealth, his friends, his own wisdom or experience and yet his protests of innocence gave him no relief from their accusations or logic.

Most of us would of heard of someone remark of another as having the “faith of Job.” High praise because Job never entertained the thought of giving up his faith in God. Rather, he desperately wanted to experience God’s active, healing presence in his life, as he questioned what God was doing and cried out to God for some relief from his heartache. Job represents to us without providing easy answers, everyone who seems to be suffering more than seems necessary, and indeed many of those suffering understand this Book best and know, that in God being God, He will do many things we cannot comprehend, and act in ways we don’t always understand and as seen in the scriptures they often link the mystery of suffering with the mystery of God. The mysteries of God as seen in the Book of Job doesn’t make light of life’s unfairness, but rather points out that life’s unfairness doesn‘t call God’s goodness into question.

If there was no suffering, how would we develop compassion? If there were no emergencies to handle or crises to deal with, how would we develop courage? When things go wrong for us, we can too quickly conclude that all of life is unjust and unfair. Our loss swamps our perspective on life. We need to see all that is still going right all around us, and all the good that is still happening in our lives.

A mother whose son was killed in a car accident, rose early on the morning of the funeral to read God’s reply to Job in Job 36-41. She said, “I needed to know that my pain was not all there was in the world”. Her anguish threatened to swallow all of creation. What she needed was the reassurance of a God whose power of creation and re-creation is stronger than the power of what seems chaotic and haphazard in our lives. This is what God’s reply to Job seeks to do for such a confused sufferer as Job was. The same need that those Christians suffering through war and persecution today most surely are placing their hopes.

So God aims to persuade Job, as with us of the fundamental reliability of the structures and systems of creation, in the face of the unpredictable events that occur in a world marred by sin. God’s reply itself was unpredictable. God doesn’t answer any of Job’s questions. Instead, God has a range of questions for Job, to get him thinking differently, very differently from how he had been thinking. In a sense, God’s appearance to Job is the true answer to Job’s deepest needs. God had been listening to Job’s cries for help. God wasn’t unresponsive to all that Job had been going through. First of all, God takes Job out of his narrow, little circle of concern into the vastness of His complex creation. God takes Job through the marvel of a forest to watch His obedient infant, the sea, and then to view the wonder of the stars at night.

God tells us that He is purposeful in what He is doing in His creation, pervasive in His control of it, and personal in His care for it. He shows us that caring for the whole creation is something only God knows how to do. With playful irony and touches of humour, God reveals to us His delight in all He has made, especially in creating animals and birds of no practical use to us. God’s reply is a defence of the ecology of nature and the proper use of the environment. God made wild animals to enjoy their existence in the wilderness, just as much as God enjoys watching them and providing for their unique needs.

There are deer whose freedom God wants us to preserve; there are animals God doesn’t want us to tame. His creation has more variety than we need because it is there for our enjoyment, and not just to be exploited. God invites us to share the morning star’s song of joy over what God has made (Job 38:7). Weather is arranged not just for us, but also for God’s other creatures. In nature, God is doing a host of things right each day, things that have little or nothing to do with us human beings. God’s humorous sketch of the ostrich in Job 39:13-18 serves no solemn purpose. It acts “silly” because that’s how God created it. It, in turn, laughs at our so-called “progress” (Job 39:7).

God’s joy in His creation is reflected in the leisurely nature of the tour He takes Job on. By doing this, God helps Job to recover a place of security and belonging within the rich panorama of creation. Job himself has acknowledged that he is sure of his safety with God the other side of death. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last He will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another (Job 19:25-27a).” Our Redeemer living again was the unexpected outcome from Good Friday.

The events of Good Friday demonstrate to us that God hasn’t abandoned us in our pain and our loss. Human suffering is so significant that God shares it with us. Job’s sufferings point to those of our suffering Saviour Jesus Christ, God’s ultimate demonstration of justice. Jesus suffered without consolation and comfort on the cross, so that His suffering might be our comfort in our own suffering. Our sufferings come to us to make us Christlike: “We suffer with Christ so that we may also be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17).”

Through suffering, we discover that Jesus is our first and greatest need, both for the present and for the future. Our suffering has meaning and value beyond all that we can comprehend in the present. Job learned that we cannot evaluate God’s actions on the basis of the small piece of reality we experience. We can, however, trust God for the bigger picture – that He has all the loose threads of the lives of all His creatures in His hands.

A clergy couple fostered three children whose lives had been devastated by witnessing their mother kill their father, and then being arrested. On the first night, the children were in this couple’s care, they read together the creation account in Genesis 1. The husband explained that the children had experienced such a sudden and violent loss that they needed to know there was something on which they could still rely. To hear about God’s well-ordered, good world in the presence of adults who would stand by them, was the first step to restoring a sense of trust in these children.

God’s message about creation serves a similar function with Job. Life’s problems need good, close relationships with others rather than good reasons. The Book of Job tells us to avoid judging the sufferings of others. Instead, we’re to ask the Lord to lead us to those who suffer like we have, and to listen to them and pray for them, and ironically, then even our own burdens are easier to bear when we help others bear theirs.

“Lord, you are our help in trouble; in darkness, come as light; in our sadness, come as joy; in our troubles come as peace; in our weakness, come as strength. Redeem, renew and restore us. Amen.”

 

A modest family in a modest town

Saturday, June 13th, 2015

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13, Mark 4:26-34.

In our Old Testament reading we heard of the amazing story of King David. David the shepherd boy and the youngest of the StMarkseight Sons of Jesse.

David’s father Jesse who was of no social consequence within his Bethlehem community except for maybe ridicule as hinted by in this piece of scripture.

So David, born in a “modest” town to a “modest” family whose first occupation being that of a shepherd would have seen him viewed by the smug religious rulers of the time as second class, incompetent, untrustworthy and despised in everyday life.  In fact despised so much were the shepherds that they were deprived of civil rights and could not fulfill judicial offices or be admitted in court as witnesses. No wonder I suppose then that to buy wool, milk or a young goat from a shepherd was forbidden on the assumption that it would be stolen property, and to which in the Mishnah, Judaism’s written record of the oral law goes as far to say that “no one should ever feel obligated to rescue a shepherd who has fallen into a pit,” and from this Inexplicable situation God calls David who would become a charismatic leader who would overcome a split and waring Israel, overcome the tribal suspicious and resistance to the idea of a king by ingeniously invading and setting up camp in the neutral and independent city of Jerusalem. A move that would centralize the state and provide the infrastructure through which a new national identity could there emerge with the internal social stability and external security in which saw him having the  allegiance of all the Israelite tribes and regions and establish Israel as a dominant political force in the land, and if that not enough-in his decision to employ workers from regions far and wide to construct these new fortifications and infrastructure he established for himself significant relationships with the foreign powers from which they came.

I’ve always found it quizzical that his successor, his Son Solomon who in a dream saw the Lord appear to him and after the Lord telling him to “Ask for whatever you want me to give you”, asks not for riches for himself nor the death of his enemies, but that he be given a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. “

In short his request was for the gift of wisdom to which as God had promised, was granted. Quizzical for me because in order to ask for wisdom, I would think you need a share of wisdom to start with, but as we’ve seen through his Father David, it would seem he had a bit of a head start.

So we fast forward about 900 or so years and after the short period of time where the shepherds gained some recognition through King David’s rise to fame, now here again have they returned to be scorned in a society of religious snobbery and class prejudice, and low and behold who is the first people that the angels tell that the awaited messiah has arrived. The messiah born holding the lineage of King David through Joseph, again born in the town of Bethlehem (as was David). And while Joseph was not a shepherd, Jesus is born in a stable with the sheep and goats. And who is the first people that the angels tell of this earth shattering event in history. Yep-those bottom of the social rung shepherds again.

An amazing story and as we know the rest is history where this child Jesus, born to a virgin from God the Father. God from God, Jesus: who would walk the earth befriending sinners and calling the unlikely to follow him that they carry on his work after unfathomably, the Son of God, the waited Messiah for 2,000 years is tortured and killed on a cross as a criminal by his own people.

Everything, the whole story seems to come from “back to front land” and so it’s no wonder that Jesus needed to basically tell us in today’s Gospel that when it comes down to it, that most of the time we’ve got basically no idea of what’s going on where He talks of the largest of the garden plants coming from the smallest seed despite half the time the earthly human gardener being asleep, and in our present time where it seems that the kingdom of God is under attack, particularly in its once strongholds this gives us great comfort not just for our world, but for ourselves because this truly is a great time to be a Christian and trust that God’s still in control in both the now and in the bigger scheme of things.

How we became to believe I’m not sure as even though we do know from scripture that faith both comes and is strengthened from reading and hearing those Words of that scripture, in its teaching, in Baptism and Holy Communion, we also know from the book of John that “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

So why me, why us? Quite frankly I don’t care. I’m just happy that we’ve been blessed with the spirit of truth. A great blessing that we got before we asked for it. A gift that we not withhold from others or throw in their faces, but a gift that could be said of as did Chris Judd did of his career as an AFL footballer who on retirement this week and being asked of his great talent remarked with “I have never thought of myself or footballers better than those in any other occupation because being born in Australia means we’ve already won the ovarian lottery in the first place and after that it’s all a bonus.”

It’s a great comment because being renowned for his hard training ethic and preparation and a career that any elite footballer be proud of, he did not deny those things as why should he because they’re true. But then put’s it into perspective of what he couldn’t control through birth place, time and situation. A perspective and understanding that gave him the mindset of being neither elitist nor subservient to those who do or don’t care of his football ability or the game itself.

Is this not that of a Christian, of us? Somehow we’re won the ovarian lottery to be born in a country where Christianity can be freely practiced. Won the ovarian lottery that be our background be of this or that, that the spirit has blown our way that we can now here as Christians learn of our craft by increasing our knowledge of the gifts we have been given. The gift of that being a Christian that we know that though in Sin we are forgiven in Christ. The gift that having been forgiven in Christ we are reunited with God the Father and the gift from those gifts that sees us assured of eternal life in the world to come.

Our standing in God’s kingdom is a fact, and in that whether we be before great religious leaders or before the madding and ridiculing crowds, we neither be pompously elitist nor fearfully subservient, but simply tell and know how it is, and that is one who now rests in the shade of the tree of Christ’s Cross and nests in the mighty branch of His resurrection.  That’s who you are and though all of that may have come through the seemingly “back to front land” of how God works is a further testament to His testament that “His Word does not return empty.” His Word that assures you that you are a saved child of God. His Word that we take before the world in our humble or highly exclaimed social statuses that it pierce the soul of those who do not know or believe it not. Not that it drive them away in despair and anger that they not return, but simply take His Word as best we can in our actions, in prayer, in recital and understanding to those that God places before us, knowing that amongst it all, be we insecure of language or in doubt of worthiness, amongst it all God will be God that the humble will stand and the proud kneel before the same throne and that though here on earth it may all still seem as “back to front land”, that they too will see like we will see when all is revealed in our heavenly home. To see how our roads were straightened, our valleys raised and the mountains flattened, that as we made our way home, it most certainly was a great time for a Christian, to be a Christian. Amen.

A notorious Australian

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

Mark 3:20-35

 

Chopper Reed is a notorious Australian who Wikipedia tells us:

StMarksWas born on 17 November 1954 to a former army father and a mother who was a devout Seventh-day Adventist. He was placed in a children’s home for the first 5 years of his life. He grew up in the Melbourne suburbs of Collingwood, Thomastown, Fitzroy and Preston. He was bullied at school, claiming that by the age of 15, he had been on the “losing end of several hundred fights and that his father, usually on his mother’s recommendation, beat him often as a child. Read was made a ward of the state by the age of 14 and was placed in several mental institutions as a teenager, where, he later claimed, he was subjected to electroshock therapy.

When he was still young, Read was already an accomplished street fighter and the leader of the Surrey Road gang. He began his criminal career by robbing drug dealers, based in massage parlors in the Prahran area. He later graduated to kidnapping and torturing members of the criminal underworld, often using a blowtorch or bolt cutters to remove the toes of his victims as an incentive for them to produce enough money so that Read would leave them alive.[1]

Read spent only 13 months outside prison between the ages of 20 and 38, having been convicted of crimes including armed robbery, firearm offences, assault, arson, impersonating a police officer and kidnapping.[2]

Later in his life he claimed to be involved in the killing of 19 people and the attempted murder of 11 others. In an April 2013 interview with the New York Times, Read said “Look, honestly, I haven’t killed that many people, probably about four or seven, depending on how you look at it.”[6]

In today’s Gospel we have the revelation of the unforgivable sin where in verse thirty-one we are told: “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. [32] And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

We may think it strange to hear Jesus telling the Pharisees of the unforgivable sin in a Gospel text, but in reality what he shows us is the depth’s and heights to which the grace of God searches to bring salvation.

But here in this passage, what exactly had these Pharisees done that would cause Jesus to say that they could “not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come?” The word “blaspheme” literally means “to speak against.” The scribes and Pharisees were guilty of “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” because they were attributing the work of the Spirit to Satan. But is to simply “speak against” the Holy Spirit enough to bring about irrevocable eternal condemnation?

Let’s look at the facts.
The apostle Paul was himself, guilty of that sin. He writes, “Even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; [14] and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:13).

Paul had been guilty of saying the exact same things — and worse — as the other Pharisees, before he met the Lord on the road to Damascus. We often hear the name of God or Jesus being used in vain or blasphemous ways, even today. How can God forgive words spoken against His Son, and yet not forgive the words spoken against His Spirit?

Obviously there is something deeper implied, than simply speaking against the Spirit; if not then the beloved Apostle Paul would have been lost eternally as well. So what is meant by “blasphemy against the Spirit?” Let’s consider some of the sinners we read about in the New Testament.

The “tax-collectors and sinners” were acknowledge by others and admitted by themselves to be notorious transgressors of God’s Law. Yet, when they came to Jesus in Luke 15:1

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. read more »

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, they certainly found more than enough grace to forgive their sins.

Take the case of the sinful prostitute in Luke 7:36-50 who was scorned by the apostles when she washed Jesus feet with ointment and tears.

Or the woman who was got caught in bed with a man not her husband in John 8:11 and who the Pharisees demanded be stoned only for Jesus to renounce their actions.

Does God forgive such scandalous behavior? Yes! Both found that Jesus had grace enough to cover their fleshly sins.

What about a traitor — one of the inner circle who forsook the Lord “with his eyes open,” even after he had been warned? Peter was all these; he denied his Master three times the night that the “Friend of Sinners” most needed a friend. He cursed and swore that he did not even know the man. Could God forgive such a one? Yes. Jesus forgave Peter and gave him a place of honor as the “key-note speaker” on the Day of Pentecost.

What about murderers? Surely there is no sin worse than killing another person. And yet, the Apostle Paul, again, had been involved in murder. Even those on whose hands God saw crimson stains that matched His Son’s blood type were told: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

Even murder — even the murder of Jesus Christ — could be forgiven.

All of these sins, in fact every sin that a person commits, can be forgiven. But even so, the Pharisees had not done any of these things; so none of these could be the sin against the Spirit. What sin had they committed that meant they could not be forgiven!?

Understand that Jesus did not condemn His enemies because of what they said or because of any single act. Rather, He denounced them for their obstinate hardness of heart. Their words gave evidence of the evil in their hearts. The sin against the Holy Spirit is not a matter of speech; the words spoke are only “fruit” from a sin-filled heart. That is why Jesus states very clearly: [34] “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” How had the scribes and Pharisees reached such a deplorable condition? By constantly and consistently refusing to accept the Spirit-created evidence that proved Jesus to be the Messiah.

So what is “blasphemy against the Spirit?” It is the final and complete rejection of Jesus Christ. This sin is a denial of the Spirit’s message and rejection of the Lord’s deity. Jesus made it clear that all sins can be forgiven. Adultery, murder, blasphemy, and other sins can all be forgiven; they are not unpardonable. But God cannot forgive the rejection of His Son. It is the Holy Spirit who bears witness to Christ and convicts the lost sinner.

So when it comes right down to it: The only sin, for which there is no forgiveness, is the sin for which no forgiveness is wanted. The Pharisees had so hated and hardened their hearts against Jesus, that they were guilty of an Unforgivable Sin. Salvation is denied them, not because it is not offered, but because they have permanently rejected it.

So what of us. Should we try not to sin? Absolutely. Try to be more charitable and better people? Absolutely.

Will we ever be good enough or do enough to not need Christ as the door to salvation. Never. As never will the door to salvation be closed to those who throw themselves at the feet of Christ desiring mercy.

At the introduction to this message I talked of the life Chopper Reed. Now here at the conclusion I add that in March 2008 he revealed he only had two to five years to live and required a liver transplant. However, he refused to agree to the procedure, stating that while a transplant would save him, he did not want one when an organ could be provided to someone else.[14

Did he lead a sinful life? Yes. Did he die an honorable death? It would seem so. Will he be in heaven chatting to the Apostle Paul, Martin Luther and the Wesley Boys? We don’t know because we don’t know if he committed the unforgivable sin which is to reject Christ’s forgiveness.

And quite simply it’s none of our business to wonder because our business is towards the still living and whether that be to those of Choppers ilk or the saintly lady in here twilight years, it is to bring or remind them of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of Christ that we need to know for others when the world judges, and the Gospel for ourselves that we too must hear again and again as we too smell the stench of our own sins.

The Gospel of Christ not twisted, distorted or confused.

But the living Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.  Amen.