I listened to sermon recently about a theology of the cross. The speaker was going through Martin Luther's Heidelberg Disputation and what Luther presented there about what we can know about God. In this message the author made the point that many times we tend to talk about the invisible things of God by looking at the world around us. He made the example we think about the word power and so we imagine the most powerful man we can think like the President and can think that God is bigger more powerful form of the president. Martin Luther and the speaker were suggesting that this is perhaps incorrect. One of the key purposes of the cross of the substitution for our sins. Jesus took on the full wrath of God that we deserved. Again this is one of the key purposes of the cross, but it is not the only thing that is going on when Jesus is on the cross. Could it be that the cross shows us what God is like? It is a common practice among evangelicals to say that the cross is the best expression of God's love for us, but could it also be a great expression of who God is? When we think about what it means to be powerful do we think about the cross? How the power of God can look like weakness to men. When we think about what love is, do we look to the cross. As central as the cross in Christianity, I wonder if we have forgotten all that was done on that cross and what it really means that Jesus Christ who is God, the sinless spotless lamb of God went to the cross. What does that say about love? What does it tell us about how God views sin? If you are like me then you are guilty on diminishing the cross by downplaying your own sin, and the seriousness of sin. We see the justice of God in cross. The fact that God is a just God and will punish the wicked for their sins. Again I am brought to my knees when I think Jesus who knew no sin took on my sin, and the punishment I should have been given. We learn by looking at the cross that many times what looks like weakness in man's eye, is in fact God's strength. Perhaps we can look at this with faith and belief as well. I encourage all believers out there to constantly think about the cross, and remember what has been done for by the mercies of God. It is easy for me to start think that I somehow need Jesus less today than I did yesterday, but that could not be further from the truth. The truth is I need Jesus to save me just as much today as I did the day I first trusted in him. When you wake up in morning, you can wake up knowing that whatever happens today you are trusting in the completed work of Christ and are justified before God. When you go to sleep tonight you can rest knowing that it is not by your own effort that you are saved, but by what Jesus has done. When do good works, you do not do them for your sake so you can be justified, but for the sake of neighbor and knowing that it pleases God. You can be honest about your sin and see the world the way that it really is and see yourself for who you really are because you know that it is through Jesus Christ on the cross that you are forgiven. The cross is not the end to Christianity but it is central to it, and so we should not forget the cross, and we should not neglect a theology of the Cross as well. God showed us what kind of God He was when the Son went to cross for God's glory and our salvation. That is our God, and that is our Lord.
It seems like every week we hear of another shooting or bombing. We hear of death and sickness, and we might even be dealing with death and sickness. It seems to be inescapable to see that the world is full of death. As Christians we know that this world is passing away and that when Christ returns He will make a new world where is no more death, suffering, and sin. What are we to do until then however? I can't give a one size fits all answer because I don't every situation you will face in your life. But I can offer you some principles that are biblical that can help. The first thing we need to do is see the world for what it really is. One of the great freedoms of Christianity is the freedom to look at things the way they really are. We can look at the sin in our life and call what it is because even though our sin is vile and ugly and we want to over come it, we know that Christ has forgiven us of our sins through his death on the cross. In the same was we need to see that death is not a good thing and that this world is dying. We understand that this world will pass away I think we can start to see how we prioritize our time. We put God fist in our life meaning that we cling to his word. We do not need to go searching for God because He has shown himself to us through his word which speaks about God's best revelation of Himself to us which is the person of Jesus Christ. We follow God's lead and God's command. We also are love other people and to care for them when they are in need. One thing that the Bible makes clear is that while it is the Christians job to care for those in need it is not the Christians job to make sure that there is no one in need. This does not mean that if less people became needy that it would be a bad thing, however Christians should give for the sake of loving those in need, and not for the purpose of getting rid of the needy. When Christians understand that Christ could return at any moment, or that their life could be demanded of them any moment they learn to cherish life. How sad would it be if you waited until tomorrow to tell your neighbor about Christ only for Christ to return today. We also know that our loved ones are not promised to us our life. We could lose one that we love at any moment and so we cherish them enough to not even let the sun go down without settling our anger with them if we can and they are willing. We know that when we do lose loved ones that we do not mourn with no hope, but understand that just as Jesus Christ rose from the grave so shall the ones who are asleep in Christ. We live our lives clinging to God's word seeking to know it and understand it, and we live our lives loving those who we can while we can. Witnessing about our savior Jesus Christ and trusting that even though we live in a world with so much suffering and death our God is still in control and one day every wrong will be righted and justice will be served because our God is a just God. We live our lives knowing that the justice we should receive for our sinfulness has been satisfied by Jesus Christ on the cross. That we are a people totally dependent upon the mercy of God. So we live with hope, and with faith, and with love until Christ returns. So with this in mind let us go and live in the world that will pass away knowing that our savior has gone before us and He has conquered sin and death, and if our God is for us who can stand against us?
I've had a few people ask me if I have read or knew anything about the new Ridley Scott film Exodus Gods and Kings. Well New Years Eve I pulled myself out of bed as I have been sick this week and went to see that movie with my fiance. So I wanted to give my own review of the movie in the hope that helps those who are interested in seeing it or not. You know those people who often get mad at movies based on books because the director changes something or leaves something out, and then when you read the book you can admit see the differences between the two, but it doesn't ruin the movie for you? That's what its like to watch Exodus Gods and Kings. Let me be clear this movie is not like the recent Noah movie that came out in that it is so different that it really is unfaithful to the biblical message, but Exodus Gods and Kings(which from this point will be known as EGAK) gets the overall story correct while getting many of the biblical details wrong. The biggest of these is when God first calls Moses. (spoiler alert) God tells Moses that he needs a general to free his people. Moses then goes and trains the Hebrews to fight and we get your standard training montage. However God then comments to Moses that his way is taking too long and then God starts with the plagues. In the biblical account God calls Moses to be a messenger no a general and God is with Moses from the beginning rather than letting Moses try his way then getting impatient and doing it his way. This is probably the biggest change from the biblical account and the movie. The question that you may be asking at this point is, "so does this mean I should not watch the movie?" To answer that I would say use your discernment. If it bothers that Ridley Scott has strayed that far from the biblical account then I would say don't see the movie. For me while I did role my eyes at this and commented on it, it did no destroy the movie for me, nor did it hinder the over all message which is God saving his people, and showing Egypt that God is God. There are many details that this movie gets wrong, but I believe they get enough right to show what the passage is about. I would classify this movie as historical fiction. Much akin to the Patriot staring Mel Gibson. There are some things that are right, but other things are changed for movie purposes. There are some things that this movie did that I liked. The first is I liked how big it showed the Hebrews to be. Often in my mind when I think about Exodus I picture maybe 200 people or so, but the Hebrews were a great tribe by this point and EGAK did a good job demonstrating that. What I also liked was the global context this movie brought. In the movie the Egyptians are talking about the Hittites and some of the other tribes in the land of Canaan. This added a global context which other movies have left out. I liked that because it showed that this was a real world that was connected and it showed Egypt's power. I also liked how they the movie addressed issues brought against God nowadays, for example the idea of God being a child killer. There is also one more point that I liked in this movie and if you don't want the movie spoiled please don't read this. There is a point when Moses is talking with God and God shows his anger about the Egyptians worshiping false Gods and talks about how he wants them down on their knees. While there is no Biblical account in Exodus, the idea of God having wrath over his creation worshiping statues instead of Him is Biblical and it showed a side of God that has kinda been forgotten in modern world. I also liked the interaction between Moses and God and I felt that while all these encounters did not follow the letter of the Bible, in many ways they captured the spirit of it. The last thing I really liked in this movie is when Moses gives a speech to the Hebrews and all he pretty much says is don't be afraid God is with us. The movie treats this with its proper respect and inspiration because really if God is for us then who could stand against us? So I liked how just the words God is with us are shown to be powerful words indeed. From a Christian standpoint I would say that EGAK does a good job of capturing the spirit of the book of Exodus but a poor of keeping to the details. One should understand that this film is going to get certain details wrong and so it would perhaps be wise to read through Exodus before or after seeing this movie. Having said that I found the Movie to be entertaining and well acted. For it being a 2 and half hours long movie I never really felt it's length. The special effects on the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea where well done. There are some violent scenes in this movie as it is really trying to capture how these plagues effected the Egyptians. Parents should understand that there are some graphic scenes and perhaps should be cautious to take young children to see it. I'm not sure who this movie was really made for so its hard to say to whom I should recommend it to. All I will say is that for entertaining movies based on the Bible you can do a lot worse than Exodus Gods and Kings. If you have seen the movie let me know what you thought about it in the comments. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Here you can read various thoughts and discussions that come from the mind of our Pastor