Jesus Didn’t Come to Abolish the Law

[T]here are many thoughtful and intelligent persons, and not altogether destitute of piety, who imagine, that Christ has lowered the demands of the moral law, and purchased for us the liberty of being saved by a new law of sincere obedience: they think that for his sake our sincere obedience will be accepted, instead of perfect obedience: and that the defects of our obedience will be made up by the merits of Jesus Christ.

To such persons I would say, Read the words of our text. Christ says he did not come to destroy the law; and you affirm that he did; that he has softened its rigours, and dispensed with those high attainments which the perfect law of God requires. You will reply perhaps, If these things be not dispensed with, how are we to be saved? I answer, They are not dispensed with, no, not one of them: it is as much our duty to fulfil the whole law of God as it was Adam’s duty in Paradise: nor, if we would be saved by the law, can we be saved on any lower terms. But of salvation by the law we must not entertain a thought: we are condemned by the law, and must flee as condemned sinners to Jesus Christ, that he may wash us from our sins in his blood, and clothe us in his own unspotted robe of righteousness and salvation. Some will exclaim, What new doctrine is this? I answer, this was the way of salvation revealed to Adam after the Fall; and it has been continued in all successive ages, till Christ himself came. Then was this mystery more clearly revealed to the world; and from henceforth the voice of God to every human Being is, “He that believeth on the Son of God hath eternal life; but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

Lay aside then your erroneous notions respecting a mitigated law and sincere obedience; and seek salvation in God’s only dear Son, in whom alone it can be found.

– Charles Simeon

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Sermon Text for September 17th – Matthew 5:17-20

17 “Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

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Sermon Text for September 10th – Matthew 5:13-16

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

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God Is Wrathful because God Is Love

I used to think that wrath was unworthy of God. Isn’t God love? Shouldn’t divine love be beyond wrath? God is love, and God loves every person and every creature. That’s exactly why God is wrathful against some of them. My last resistance to the idea of  God’s wrath was a casualty of the war in former Yugoslavia, the region from which I come. According to some estimates, 200,000 people were killed and over 3,000,000 were displaced. My villages and cities were destroyed, my people shelled day in and day out, some of them brutalized beyond imagination, and I could not imagine God not being angry. Or think of Rwanda in the last decade of the past century, where 800,000 people were hacked to death in one hundred days! How did God react to the carnage? By doting on the perpetrators in a grandparently fashion? By refusing to condemn the bloodbath but instead affirming the perpetrators basic goodness? Wasn’t God fiercely angry with them? Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love.

– Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace pp. 138-139

Sermon Text for September 3rd – Matthew 5:10-12

We’ll be finishing up our study of the Beatitudes this Sunday. Here’s our text:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

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Luther On Preaching

You may ask, “What then is the Word of God, and how shall it be used, since there are so many words of God?” I answer: The Apostle explains this in Romans 1. The Word is the gospel of God concerning his Son, who was made flesh, suffered, rose from the dead, and was glorified through the Spirit who sanctifies. To preach Christ means to feed the soul, make it righteous, set it free, and save it, provided it believes the preaching. Faith alone is the saving and efficacious use of the Word of God, according to Rom. 10[:9]: “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Furthermore, “Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified” [Rom. 10:4]. Again, in Rom. 1[:17], “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” The Word of God cannot be received and cherished by any works what ever but only by faith. Therefore it is clear that, as the soul needs only the Word of God for its life and righteousness, so it is justified by faith alone and not any works; for if it could be justified by anything else, it would not need the Word, and consequently it would not need faith.

– Martin Luther, “Treatise on Christian Liberty”

The Danger of Real Love

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in the casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

– C. S. Lewis