This morning Pastor Mark Tiefel looks at the Lenten concept of “Vicarious Atonement.” The word “atonement” means to appease or to remove something. When it comes to sin, God has removed our sin thought the sacrifice of His Son. The word “vicarious” means substitute, and this points to Jesus who had taken our place and made the sacrifice needed for our sins. The Old Testament believers celebrated the Day of Atonement once every year. One goat was killed and sacrificed, the other had the sins of the people placed upon it and it was led out into the wilderness where it was left to die. These pictures point us to the sacrifice made by Jesus on Good Friday. Jesus told his disciples that He had come to set sinners “at one” with God, through His death on the cross. Jesus has become our substitute and made that sacrifice for our sin, removing it forever.
In this special Bible Study segment, Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Rob Sauers take an indepth look at Psalm 22 and the clear predictions of the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross, as well as the victory He wins for sinners through His death. This Psalm was written by King David over 1000 years before they were fulfilled by Jesus on Calvary. Yet, by inspiration, the Holy Spirit foretells specific details regarding the work of the Messiah, Jesus, in how and what he would suffer to redeem sinners to God. When we consider the accounts of Jesus’ passion, we often focus only on the physical suffering that He endured. And it is true that he endured much physical pain on that first Good Friday. He was abandoned by His disciples to face the agony of the crucifixion, having His hands and feet pierced, suffering from dehydration and suffocation, while being mocked and ridiculed by those around Him. But the greatest burden He endured on that day was being forsaken by God the Father as He endured the penalty of our sin and the wrath of God against it in our place. Through this sacrifice, Jesus won the victory for us. Life and salvation is ours by faith. Thanks be to God!
This week, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew digs into the unfamiliar word “sheol” and its meaning. This word is a Hebrew word that isn’t found in all English translations. It is used often in the Psalms, and has the basic meaning of “death” or “grave”, although it is also translated “hell” a few times. It is a reminder that death is the just judgment we deserve because of sin and God told Adam in the Garden of Eden and as Paul reiterates when he says: “The wages of sin is death.” Death is a certainty in life for all people, both believers and unbelievers, because of our sin. Sheol is used to describe sorrow (Genesis 42:38), mourning (Genesis 37:35), shortening of years (Isaiah 38:10), and loss of knowledge and wisdom (Ecclesiastes 9:10), even for the one who believes in Christ. Without the message of Christ’s work for us in His substitutianary death and resurrection, death is an extreme terror. But the Old Testament also proclaims the message of the Gospel to believers through victory over Sheol. “But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol (the grave), For He shall receive me. Selah” (Psalm 49:15). It also foretells the Savior’s resurrection from the dead: “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10).
Surely, God has not left us to die, but He has redeemed us from the power of Sheol through the death of His Son Jesus, and by His resurrection from the dead, He has assured us that we too will be brought from death to life! What an important reminder, as we look to Easter during this Lenten season. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
This week, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew digs into the word “passion” and its relationship to the season of Lent. When we think of “passion” the English speaking mind usually thinks of love or a strong enthusiasm for something. But the word “passion” which is derived from the Greek word “pascho” actually means “to suffer.” For centuries the word “passion” has been used to describe the suffering which Jesus willingly endured for sinners to redeem them from sin and death and to reconcile them to God. When we think of the Passion of Jesus, we are reminded of all that Jesus suffered in the hours that led up to and culminated in His crucifixion. He was slapped, spit on, and beaten by the Jewish leaders and guards during the middle-of-the-night Jewish trials. He was scourged, mocked and abused by Pilate Roman soldiers. After being condemned, Jesus was forced to carry His cross to Calvary where his hands and feet were nailed to the cross and he was crucified.
The physical suffering of Jesus was indeed great. But if that is all that we think of when we consider the passion of Jesus, then we have failed to see the real suffering which Jesus endured for us. The suffering of Jesus was greater than just the physical pain He endured. Peter writes: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Through His passion, Jesus bore the punishment for the sins of everyone in the world. He endured the just anger of God against our sins.
Jesus suffered all this because of your sin and mine. If I had no sin, I could be released of my part in the suffering and death of Jesus. But I am not without sin, and my sin made the passion of Jesus necessary.
Thanks be to our Savior Jesus for His passion – the suffering He willingly endured in the place of sinners, that He might bring us to God!
In our Bible Study episode this week, Pastors Neal Radichel and Nathanael Mayhew take us into the Old Testament book of Psalms. This is a favorite book for many people, but at the same time it can be very intimidating because it can be difficult to understand the historical context or background of many Psalms. This “Book” contains 150 individual “songs” that are all unique. This is the Hymnal of the Old Testament and were often set to music with elaborate instruments. The 150 Psalms were grouped into 5 different sections or “books” in which you can find certain themes or similarities. There are Psalms that cover many different aspects of life including: Prayer, History, Trust, Despair, Sin, Repentance and much more. So there is much application to our daily lives. In addition, throughout the Psalms you will see God’s love for His people and His promise to send a Savior Who would deliver us from the punishment of our sin by suffering and dying in our place. The Psalms are a wonderful source of comfort and encouragment for us still today as they point us to Jesus and His work as our redeemer.
As we continue to focus on Lent, Pastor Mark Tiefel goes into the word “Cross” and its importance for the believer in Christ. Most people don’t hang onto or celebrate reminders of suffering in their life. But the Christian faith does emphasize such a reminder in the cross. Paul says that we boast not in ourselves but in the cross of Christ (Galatians 6:14ff). It was through the cross that Jesus reconciled sinful human beings to a holy God (Colossians 1:20). Christ has abolished death and the hostility that was against us through the cross (Ephesians 2:16). For these reasons the cross is a comforting thing because it reveals the grace of God for sinners. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him (Mark 8:34). The Christian will suffer and face persecution, but Jesus has overcome the world! It is worth it.
In our Review segment this week, Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Rob Sauers dig into the Lenten Hymn, “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth” by Paul Gerhardt. This hymn (number 142 in The Lutheran Hymnal) was written by Paul Gerhardt, who was a faithful Lutheran pastor in Germany who lived about 100 years after Martin Luther. In this hymn Gerhardt wonderfully depicts the purpose of Christ’s suffering and death, His willingness to carry out mankind’s salvation, and the great cost which He paid to accomplish it. He also describes the resulting effect of Christ’s atonement for sin in the life of the Christian, both now and in eternity. He describes how the Christian, in view of the Savior’s sacrifice for us, offers his life as a sacrifice for Christ. Because of Jesus’ redemption, we need not fear death or the Devil, but confidently trust in our Savior, who comforts us in our earthly afflictions. We also look forward to the joy of eternal life which is ours, by faith, because Jesus has purchased our release from sin and death. What a rich spiritual heritage we have in such Scriptural Lutheran hymns as this!
In our Word of the Week we continue to focus on a Lenten theme as Pastor Rob Sauers looks at the words “contrition” and “repentance.”
Repentance was a major theme in the preaching of both John the Baptism and Jesus (Matthew 3, 4:17). The Lenten season is called a “penitential season,” that is, a season of repentance, and so it’s good for us to ask, then, “What is repentance?” The Dicitionary defines repentance in this way: “to feel or express sincere regret or remorse.” This definition really describes the first part of repentance, namely, contrition. According to the Apology to the Augsburg Confession, contrition is, “the true terror of conscience, which feels that God is angry with sin and grieves that it has sinned. This contrition takes place when sins are condemned by God’s Word.” So contrition is that internal condition of fear and terror in the conscience that feels God’s wrath against sin (Psalm 38:4,8).
Repentance starts with contrition. Sometimes this sorrow is more like fear – fear of being separated from God. This sorrow is not a worldly sorrow. That’s the kind of sorrow that Judas had after he betrayed Jesus. His was a self-centered remorse and despair that wrongly concluded that all was lost in this life, that there was no hope, and that there was nothing God could do. True contrition is godly sorrow that is worked in us by God’s Law. That’s the first part. But there is a second part of repentance. The word translated “repent” in Greek means to turn or to change one’s mind. There are many who think and teach that repentance is about turning from sinning to not sinning. In other words, they believe that repentance is about trying to do better. So according to this definition, the second part of repentance is good works. The problem with this definition is that it leaves us with no hope that we’ve done enough to turn away from our sins. Scripture teaches us that repentance isn’t about turning from doing bad things to doing good things, but it’s about turning away from ourselves and our own righteousness and turning to Jesus and His righteousness. Repentance is not saying, “I’ve sinned and so I’m not going to sin anymore.” Repentance is saying, “I’ve sinned and I can’t save myself, so I trust in Christ to forgive me and save me.”
Think of the thief on the cross at Jesus’ crucifixion. He turned away from himself and to Jesus. And Jesus replied, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Repentance is a turning – not from sinning to not sinning, but a turning from trusting in one’s own righteousness to trusting in Jesus to save. And so, the second part of repentance isn’t good works, but it’s faith. When we understand repentance as Scripture teaches it, we have the true comfort that as we repent of our sins, we have God’s forgiveness. Because true repentance takes our eyes off of ourselves and our own efforts, we’re not left to determine on our own if our repentance is genuine enough to obtain forgiveness. Instead, true repentance turns us to Jesus who tells us from the cross, “It is finished.” The work of our salvation has been completed. True repentance, then, is a wonderful gift from God in which He works in us through His Law and Gospel. Though the Law, God brings us to contrition, a true, godly sorrow over our sins. Though the Gospel, the Lord works faith in our hearts to turn away from ourselves and turn to God for forgiveness and salvation. So rejoice in this wonderful gift of repentance. Rejoice to confess your sinfulness and inability to save yourself as this confession is a gift from God. And then rejoice that the Lord has turned you from unbelief to faith, from life to death – because you are forgiven of all your sins.
In this CPR episode, Pastors Mark Tiefel, Neal Radichel and Nathanael Mayhew all join together to discuss the topic of leaving a church. Why would a person leave a church? 1) They are running from a church because they don’t like what it is saying. 2) They don’t agree with what a church teaches. 3) They are having a personality conflict with others in the church that they are running from. When it comes to personality conflicts we are to forgive our brother and work toward resolving the issue. When it comes to doctrine we are to avoid the false teaching immediately for the love of the truth. God’s Word is the standard, not our personalities. God doesn’t tell us to try and change false teachers, he tells us to avoid false teachers, because false teaching is destructive. We are speak the truth in love, Paul says (Ephesians 4:15). Either way we should carry out what God would have us do in love toward those around us. Join us for this valuable discussion.
It is very important to give solid answers to tough questions about the Bible. Another such question deals with whether Jesus is the only way to Heaven.
Question: Why do I need to believe is Jesus? Aren’t there many roads that lead to Heaven?
Answer: No, there are not many roads that lead to heaven. Jesus is the only way. The Bible is very clear on this point. Jesus says:“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). He also says, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). These are very exclusive statements, and the Bible is full of them. Jesus is the only way to Heaven.
We live in a world that offers us many options when it comes to employment, education, entertainment and more. We also want to believe that we have options when it come to God and the afterlife, and are deceived into accepting a blatant lie.
When a person says “all roads lead to heaven” they are saying that all religious belief systems are equal and lead to the same end. It is said: “It doesn’t matter what or who you believe, as long as you are a good person and are sincere in your beliefs.” In other words, belief in Allah, Jesus, Jehovah, Krishna, or any other god are equally acceptable options. They are all the same.
Let’s say you want to go to Chicago. Do all roads out of New York lead to Chicago? Of course not. The majority of roads out of New York will NOT get you to Chicago. So the idea of all roads leading to one place is faulty and contrary to our reason to begin with.
Some people believe that all religions are equally true. They point to the similarities between Christianity, Islam and Judaism for example. These religions all believe there is only one God, and trace their history back to Abraham in the Old Testament. But does that mean that they are essentially the same? Not at all! While there are a few similarities between religions, there are many drastic and irreconcilable differences between the religions of the world. They cannot all be true. These three religions are not describing the same god in a different way, the are describing completely different ways of salvation. They are going opposite directions!
Whether we like it or not, there are not many paths which lead to heaven. There is only one way, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ as the only Savior for sinners. His salvation is full and it is free!
If you have question you have struggled with, please share that with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be glad to respond!