Names of God: The End

Jesus “The End”
by Pastor Bert Hitchcock

Our very first Lenten meditation focused on the fact that Jesus is called “the Beginning”. He is both the Creator, who accounted for the beginning of all things, and He is the Redeemer, who by His death and resurrection brings a new beginning of eternal life.

But the same two verses that call Jesus “the Beginning” (Revelation 21:6 & 22:13), go on to also call him “the End”. Now, a measuring tape, a book, or a year has a beginning and an end, but how can the Eternal Christ Jesus who lives forever with his new creation ever be called “the End”?

The answer is found in the fact that our Bibles were not written in English, but in Hebrew and Greek. And so, that word “end” in Revelation (the Greek word is telos) has a more complex meaning than our English word “end”. Telos primarily means “fulfillment” or “goal”, and that is how we must understand it in regard to Jesus. He is the fulfillment, the goal, of all things.

So, for example, Paul said in Romans 10:4 “Christ is the end of the law;” but Jesus made that statement about the scriptures clearer, when He said, “I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” So, Christ Jesus is the fulfillment, the goal, the intended ‘end’ of all that God has said and done. “It is all about Jesus!”

This must be our focus as Christians: that at the end of history the Lord will be “all in all.” The Apostle Paul put it this way: “from him, and through, him and to him, are all things;’ He is “above all, and through all, and in all.”

And if He is the reality that will fill eternity, we have nothing more important for our lives on this Resurrection Day.  It is all about Jesus!

Listening Through Lent: Fields of Our Hearts

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

In the grave they laid him, love whom men had slain,
Thinking that never he would wake again.
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green,

Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain.
Quick from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Thy touch can call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.
~John Crum

The ground is slowly coming to life again;
snowdrops and daffodils have surfaced from months of dormancy,
buds are swelling,
the spring chorus frogs have come from the mud to sing again
and birds now greet the lazy dawn.

Everything, everyone, has been so dead, so hidden;
His touch calls us back to life,
love is come again
to the fallow fields of our hearts.

 

 

 

Resurrection Morning

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. 
John 20:18
Death cannot keep back love;  love is stronger than death.  The meaning of Good Friday and Easter Sunday is that God’s path to human beings leads back to God
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
On that promised resurrection morn,
the Light, unable to be bound,
In Sovereign triumph over death,
Stepped forth to leave an empty tomb
By folly sealed with silent stone.

Two Seraphic servants of the light,
at once in blazing glory stood,
Striking guards with bolts of fear,
Who fell prostrate like men dead.
The stone was moved to fully open.

Heaven’s witness to a Sovereign act,
is voiced aloud from age to age,
Witness to prophetic spoken words,
Death where is your victory, your sting?
The morning star is risen indeed.
~Pastor Jack Matheis

If ~

And IF Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile:you are still in your sin.
I Cor. 15:17  

Many in our society today respond to the good news of the resurrection of Christ from the dead as Paul’s hearers in Athens did; they greeted his witness to the resurrection with sneers. To many today the idea of the resurrection is sheer nonsense. There is — they believe — no historical evidence or proof of anything like the resurrection ever happening. Many would ascribe it to a cooked up story by Jesus followers, or part of the Biblical myth.

The Apostle Paul would boldly declare the resurrection to be a true historical fact.

As Nancy Pearsey writes in her book, “Total Truth”,  “Historical Christianity teaches spiritual truth which is firmly rooted in historical events.”

This is what Paul is setting forth in this passage when he states,“if Christ’s resurrection has not happened in real history, if there is no empty tomb, then our faith is of no value, it is useless.”

As Pearsey continues, “Paul declares some 500 people are eye witnesses to the fact that Christ  was alive after the crucifixion, which means Paul was treating religious truth as susceptible to the ordinary means of verifying historical events. To Paul this means the resurrection is the final factual guarantee of the trustworthiness of the gospel.”

If Jesus is not risen we are, as the Hymn writer aptly puts it, “Shackled by a heavy burden, neath a load of guilt and shame,” — and with no hope to escape our tragic end, the wrath of God.  But as the song writer continues, “he touched me and O the joy that floods my soul.”

Our only hope is to be touched by the love of Jesus, as he witnessed to John in Rev. 1:5, “to him who loved us and has freed us from our sins by his blood;” and Paul adds to that testimony in Rom.5:9, “Since we now have been justified by his blood how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath.”

If there is no resurrection then we are to be pitied above all for we are still shackled by our load of sin with no hope to be freed from God’s judgment; which would mean the hatred of man is stronger than the love of God.

NOT!

For as John writes, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”  It is the Son who testifies, “Do not be afraid, I am the first and the last, I am the living one; I once was dead , and behold I am alive for ever and ever. And I hold the keys of death and the grave.” ( Rev.1:17,18) 

Amen, Hallelujah, He is risen, He is risen indeed.
~Pastor Jack Matheis

A Great Gap Torn

Heidelberg Catechism Question and Answer 1:

Q: What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A: That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

 

Where God tears great gaps we should not try to fill them with human words.
They should remain open.
Our only comfort is the God of the resurrection,
the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who also was and is his God.

~Dietrich Bonhoeffer from “Circular Letters in the Church Struggle”

No greater gap was torn
than when Christ was separated from the Father,
forsaken,
choosing suffering
on behalf of his brothers and sisters
by paying with his life
a ransom we could never satisfy,
so dead broke are we
and captive to our sin.

Only the Word can fill
what remains open and gaping,
until we accept the comfort of his grace
freely given.

Grace great enough
to fill every hole
bridge every gap
bring hope to the hopeless
and restore us wholly to our Father
who was and is
the one and only God.
~Emily Gibson

Our Hearts Melt

Lead us not into temptations, but deliver us from evil. 
Matthew 6:13

Do you remember going to the county fair with your family when you were a young child?  Your parents told you to stay near and stick with the family.  You went through the barns and saw all the giant Clydesdales and the little ponies.   Then you ran into the Gibsons,  with their beautiful golden Haflingers.  After a little visit, your family  continued walking along.  Something interesting caught your eyes. Maybe it was another child with an interesting prize that he won at the game area.  You momentarily forgot about your family and became transfixed on this new toy. Before you knew it, you lost track of your family and they were out of sight. You took your eyes off your parents and became temporarily lost.  That is what happens when we are tempted to do wrong.

God wants us to keep our eyes on Him, to follow him. But we sometimes take our eyes off Him and follow other things.

We are told in the Bible that there are 3 things that tempt us. The world, the flesh, and the devil.  The devil is really behind them all. So, how do we withstand temptation?  We pray like Jesus taught us to pray, so that even though we are tempted, we would not give in to the temptation.  We ask for Jesus to  deliver us from the evil one [the devil].

Though we do this year round, the cycles of the church calendar focus our attention on how this prayer is answered. At Lent we look at the cross and we see that Jesus paid for all the times that we did take our eyes off Him and gave in to temptation. But, in the death and resurrection  of Jesus, we also see that He has freed us from the tyranny of the world, the flesh, and the devil. As we pray this prayer we are also asking the Father to send us His Holy Spirit.  He will help us to live by the Spirit instead of by the flesh. When our hearts are melted by the height, depth, and width of this great sacrificial gift that God has given us in the death and resurrection of His Son, it can’t but change us and make us glad.
~John Doesburg

“Be glad. celebrate! Lose your mindless fear, and take courage today. No, don’t ever be afraid, no matter what’s happened to you before.  That’s right, don’t be afraid, no matter what you may see coming.  Take courage because Christ was crucified for you.”
~Catherine of Siena

No Darkness Too Deep

If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrong.
John 1:9 

When we read this verse we have to take the time to prayerfully search our hearts and to be known by God.  Easter is approaching and we need to be honest in our hearts as we prepare for His death.  We may not hide our honesty but let our pleasure in the Lord show.
We cannot remain in the dark when we think how God’s Son suffered and died for us. In His death there was no darkness too deep for God to bear the burden of Jesus’ death.  Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross
was one of the darkest and deepest times in darkness.
In the depth of His love for us we have to remember there is no depth of darkness so deep that we should sink into despair, but just remember that the Lord is on our side.   We have to remember that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit  are always there and we will never be out of reach of the love and mercy of the Lord.
His Death and resurrection  and the love of the Son helps us see that God is truly Almighty.  In this season of Lent may our hearts shine brightly inside of all of us.
~Marilynn Ver Steeg