The Death of the King

Luke 23.44-56

How deep the Father’s love for us, How vast beyond all measure, That He should give His only Son, To make a wretch His treasure. How great the pain of searing loss, The Father turns His face away, As wounds which mar the Chosen One, Bring many sons to glory…Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer, But this I know with all my heart His wounds have paid my ransom.” The cross shows the love of God in a way that nothing else in all of creation could. Jesus endured the worst physical torments our twisted minds could conceive…even those pale in comparison to the spiritual horrors He faces as He becomes sin. And yet He does it willingly for us, dying so that we might live… “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3.16)

So why wouldn’t we believe? Knowing all that Jesus endured on the cross for us…knowing that the debt has been paid in full…why wouldn’t we believe? Why wouldn’t we accept the free gift He offers? Why would we ever say, “No, thanks. I’m good. I want to bear my own sin and suffer God’s wrath for myself”? Why wouldn’t we…when God has demonstrated His deep and mysterious, overwhelming, all-consuming, never-ending and never-changing, beautiful, perfect and pure, crazy-amazing love for us in such a powerful way?

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on a sermon from our series in the book of Luke. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Fig Tree

Luke 13.1-9

The message for us is pretty simple…life is fragile and unpredictable, and so we need to repent so that we are not caught off guard and perish. God is patient, but judgment is coming…it will not wait forever. Now we are in a time of pure grace and divine forbearance. Paul in Romans 2.4 says, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Peter tells us, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief…” (2 Peter 3.9-10)

We live in a broken world plagued by sin and death. Because of sin, death is the common denominator of us all. No one escapes. Death is one for one. All will die, but not all truly live…only those who have trusted in Jesus to rescue them, to forgive them of their sins, and have chosen to follow Him will experience life.

Those of us who have trusted in Jesus should be obvious…the fruit of repentance should be evident in our lives. I want to ask you to reflect for a few moments…I want you to take a spiritual inventory and ask yourself the question…what evidence do I see in my life that I’ve trusted in Jesus? Do you see the fruits of the Spirit increasing in your life…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control? Do you have a greater desire for God and the things of God? Do you enjoy being around His people?

If the answer is “yes”, spend the next several moments thanking Jesus for rescuing you. If the answer is “no”, don’t wait. Your parents or your spouse may be believers…but there are no +1’s in the kingdom and God doesn’t have grandchildren. You may have said a prayer at some point, but when you trust in Jesus, you are not who you used to be…a fundamental change has happened at the core of who you are. If nothing has changed for you, then something’s wrong…maybe you haven’t trusted in Jesus. Maybe there is something else that’s keeping you from growing. Either way, ask God to rescue you.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on a sermon from our latest mini-series in the book of Luke, Life, Death and the Pursuit of Jesus. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The End?

Genesis 50

A good death is a fitting end to a good life. This passage about two good deaths…about dying well, in faith, knowing that physical death is not the end of the story…a reminder that as believers we are sojourners looking for the heavenly city. Sandwiched in between these two good deaths is a reminder that living well is also a challenge…

Genesis begins with a man in a garden enjoying God’s presence…it ends with a man in a coffin anticipating a restoration of that presence. The devastating effects of sin are painfully clear…death has invaded this world through sin and holds us all captive…yet the faith of the man in the coffin speaks equally clear of God’s purpose to break the power of sin through a people that He has chosen to carry forward the plan of redemption, that ultimately the promised Head-crushing Seed of the woman, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Conquering King, the Hero of our story who would come to rescue us, destroying both sin and death, leading us back to the garden and restoring our relationship with our Creator God.

Though death is a very real and painful experience this side of the garden, death is not the last word, it’s not the end, in the lives of believers. We, like Joseph, die in hope. I love what John Donne, the 17th century poet and churchman wrote…

Death, be not proud, though some have called you

Mighty and dreadful, for you are not so;

For those whom you think you overthrow,

Die not, poor Death, nor yet can you kill me.

One short sleep past, we wake eternally,

And death shall be no more; Death, you shall die.

—John Donne

C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series concludes with these words from Farewell to Shadowlands, The Last Battle “And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion…And for us this is the end…But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

A Confident Goodbye

Genesis 23

“Where are you from?” A simple, seemingly harmless question on the surface. But it can have huge implications…where you’re from may explain your accent or use of vocabulary, but more than that where you’re from explains your perspective or worldview…how you see the world and process information. It can foster great pride…nothing like FIFA fever to bring out a strong sense of nationalism, and in this country, 9/11 stirred a deep and powerful sense of patriotism…and ultimately I would argue, it can become, if it isn’t already, the place where our earthly kingdoms are built.

Abraham still saw himself as a stranger and a sojourner in the land even though he had been traveling there for 62 years. And as a stranger and sojourner, he is a type of all saints whose home is the heavenly city. Folks throughout church history have described themselves “strangers and sojourners” on an earthly pilgrimage toward the city of God. They saw themselves like Abraham…living in tents (Heb. 11:9)…think about how temporary that is…looking forward to their promised heavenly home, “the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10).

To see yourself as a stranger and a sojourner requires a heavenly perspective…it doesn’t mean that the earthy isn’t important…they really were looking for a piece of real estate…but it means that you don’t stop at the earthy. They were pursuing something much bigger than just a physical piece of property. They were pursuing a lasting inheritance. The land seen only from an earthy perspective, was only land. But seen from the heavenly, it was the land of promise. It represented a return to paradise. We too are looking for a lasting inheritance. And while temporary inheritances like family, jobs, friends, freedoms, etc. are important, they in themselves, fall far short of the hope that we have as heirs of the King of the universe. We are pursuing a lasting inheritance, a return to paradise. New heavens and new earth. New Jerusalem.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that Abraham and his clan and the saints of old died, not receiving the promises; yet they died in faith…their hope was not extinguished (Heb. 11:39–40). They did not realize the fullness of the promises…at this time Abraham owns only a cave and a field in the land of promise, far less than what God had promised. Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, far less than the nations he was to father. It would be centuries later before the Head-crushing Seed of the woman would appear on the scene, Jesus of Nazareth. And even though Jesus has come, the fullness of the promise is still yet future. A Sabbath-rest yet remains…a return to paradise; yet those who believe enter into it even now and will fully realize it in the future (Heb. 4:8–10). God’s promises to His people are not exhausted in this life. As Abraham in hope bought a burial plot in the land, so believers today have a hope beyond this life. God’s promises demand resurrection!

What about you? Where are you from? Can it be said of you, “You’re not from around here” because of your walk with Creator God? Could people tell that you have an eternal hope by the way you live your life? Maybe you don’t have that hope today. If not, today could be the day. You too could join the ranks of those who are sojourning through this life, strangers and sojourners… ambassadors in a war torn country, living as citizens of a heavenly kingdom that’s making an earthy impact. I would love to talk to you about that.

My prayer for us is just that…that we would live as citizens of a heavenly kingdom making an earthy impact.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Listen online at:http://www.centralchristian.org, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster