27 July 2011

Why Do Christians Die?

In his correspondence with the Roman Christians the apostle Paul makes a statement that helps explain an important issue regarding the death of Christians. He says, For one who has died has been set free from sin (Rom 6:7). It is through death that liberation from sin’s power and dominion is achieved. Now of course that has to do primarily with the death of Christ, who died for us that we might be freed from sin’s clutches and might live in Him for God. But it also helps clarify the reason why believers, now forgiven and accepted by God, must still experience physical death as sin’s wages.

The Westminster Divines dealt with this question and codified it in the Larger Catechism. They asked, Death being the wages of sin, why are not the righteous delivered from death, seeing all their sins are forgiven in Christ? (Q 85) Their answer echoes the apostle and is very illuminating: The righteous shall be delivered from death itself at the last day, and even in death are delivered from the sting and curse of it; so that, although they die, yet it is out of God’s love, to free them perfectly from sin and misery, and to make them capable of further communion with Christ in glory, which they then enter upon (A 85). While the death of Christians seems to be an inconsistency, it is really a severe mercy by which our loving Father frees us from sin and introduces us into glory. So in Christ’s death we are freed from sin legally, morally, spiritually, and in our own death we are freed from sin perfectly. What a glorious gospel! God in Christ has overruled the curse so that the very punishment for sin itself is now a means of tremendous blessing. What a glorious God! Is death an enemy? On one level, yes it is. On another level, it is not at all. It comes out of God’s love to free us perfectly from sin and misery. This is why Christians may look forward even to death itself. It is why we need not fear the valley of the shadow. For the one who dies has been set free from sin!

19 July 2011

The Vision Proverbs 16:3

This is the concluding sermon in the series on our new mission statement. Come and visit us at Redeemer Church.

02 July 2011



It may have been a renewed interest in detective stories that triggered the most recent movie about Sherlock Holmes. The film shows the super sleuth demonstrating his amazing skills of observation in solving cases that otherwise would have been left unsettled. Often he manages to untangle a knotty problem based on the slightest circumstantial evidence, which other noble but less observant detectives are unable to perceive. Such circumstantial evidence is valuable not only in the world of super sleuths. It also serves an important function in the spiritual realm. In fact, we are invited to trust in Christ, in part, because of the amazing circumstantial evidence.

As Jesus was preparing the disciples for His departure - literally His exodus (Lk 9:31) – He acknowledged their doubts and did not rebuke them. That is not all, for He invited them to believe on account of the works themselves (Jn 14:11). In other words, if they were unable to believe Him, they at least should have concluded from the evidence that He was who He said He was. In this case one need not be in possession of Sherlockian skills to deduce the right verdict logically from the facts themselves. The works of Jesus testify to His deity. They witness to His union with the Father. They are works that no one else did or can do (Jn 15:24). Even Watson could have solved this one. The prophets predicted Messiah’s stunning powers over nature, disease and devils. All those predictions were fulfilled by Jesus Christ who thereby confirmed His messianic mission not only by word but by deed too. His miracles are incontrovertible proof of His identity as God’s Son. Did the New Testament authors fabricate the evidence? They lacked motive and opportunity. Why die for a hoax? What incentive is there in sacrificing one's life for a trick? What's more, the fraud would have been easily detected by malevolent Pharisee-types. They would not have tolerated a fictitious account of recent events. Even if someone refutes the infallibility of the apostolic record, its reliability is beyond question. These were credible witnesses that even the influential Sanhedrin could not intimidate. Their testimony and the evidence they record points to one grand conclusion: Jesus of Nazareth is the very Son of God. He is the Savior of sinners. He offers salvation to all and any who believe. Of course, the natural man will not receive it and, indeed, cannot receive it (1Cor 2:14). But dear Christian, rejoice! For your Savior is indisputably divine. That makes all the difference.