Go back five years, and we find Pope Francis saying all you need, to be saved, is a good conscience.
Doh! Every psychopath has one of those! But in the Book of Acts, Chapter 16, when the jailer in Philippi flat-out asks Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”, they answer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (verses 30-31).
The leaders of our churches don’t seem to be familiar with this scripture.
I’ve been re-reading Parables by John MacArthur, a book I’ve already reviewed here and elsewhere: and let me say again that, if you haven’t read it yet, you really ought to.
The chapter I read today examined the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and makes a powerful point: this is what God’s love is like. This is the love that we receive from God. And he quotes St. Paul, “When we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
“I am saved.” We have heard that so often, and so often said it ourselves, that it has become a cliche–which means we have to try to hear it now as if we’ve never heard it before. As if the good news of the Gospel really were news to us.
This is power. This is Jesus Christ, our Savior. There is no one, no institution, no public policy, no power in the world that can give this to us: only God’s grace alone, in the person of Jesus Christ. By grace we are saved. Not by anything we do, or ever can do. Because we can’t. But God can.And has done so.
It’s something to think about… a lot.
I listened again to The Holly and the Ivy, and this time it really got to me. It brought tears to my eyes.
I don’t want you to think I’m some kind of weeping willie, although it has always been my way not to withhold tears from those to whom tears are due. If you can’t be stirred by the beauty of holiness in Jesus Christ… well, I don’t know.
Tears of joy are a small tribute to pay to Christmas–the day we have chosen, by custom, to celebrate the Incarnation, the word made flesh, our salvation. Those are very large gifts. And along with them, we receive love, family, sweet memories, and hope.
This is an evil age we’re living in, and we need to know that our God has not forgotten us. That’s what the carol was telling me. It took a few hours to sink in.
God is nigh. That is the lesson. He is never farther than a prayer away, and sometimes even closer than that.
My aunt, the last of my family in her generation, is now in a safe place which has already done her lots of good. And just in time for Christmas, too. This was a gift, and I am thankful for it. Not the first gift I have ever received from my God, and surely not the last. So I give thanks for Christmas, for Jesus Christ coming down from heaven and into the world, where I am. And for all the other gifts that go with it.
With our country being driven down by the very people who swear oaths to uphold it, how are we, as Christians, to defend it?
But we do have weapons that they can never take away from us. St. Paul told us what those weapons are.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.For we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
And here is our armory.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints… (Ephesians 6: 10-18)
Has anyone got a better idea?