Monday, March 24, 2008

The Easter Yeahbut

Did you encounter the Easter Yeahbut this year?

Many people did. In fact, we all encounter him at various times and need to chase him out of the garden of our lives so that he does not eat up the fruits and produce of the true faith. Sadly, however, for many, the Easter Yeahbut is a welcomed guest.

The glorious message of Easter is the promise of the Resurrection of our Lord. The promise is the proclamation of the Lord’s death till He comes, and this proclamation is the Holy Communion. Since the Lord Jesus redeemed us from the powers of sin, death, and the devil by sacrificing Himself in our place, His gift of restoration to life in God’s Holy Communion is accomplished for us in Baptism so that we may come to the Lord’s Table in the good conscience of our baptism and partake of the body and blood of our Lord for our forgiveness and our nurturing in His kingdom.

All of this is by the working of the Holy Spirit through the Word and the Sacraments. All of this is a gift. God works it for us and we enjoy the fruits of His works.

Often people refer to this as salvation by grace through faith. They express a hearty “Amen” and shout “Hallelujah” to the good news!

However, then the Easter Yeahbut comes forward and lays his Yeahbut eggs all around. Then people say “Yeahbut” to God’s gift and the good news that our new life is purely God’s work. They say, “Yeahbut, I have to cooperate using my free will, don’t I?” “Yeahbut, I must decide to believe, mustn’t I?” “Yeahbut, I must commit my life to Jesus, mustn’t I? “Yeahbut, I have to believe, don’t I? “Yeahbut, I have to make Christ the center of my life, don’t I?

The Easter Yeahbut is very prolific. He seems to have an endless capacity to produce Yeahbut eggs and he seems to have lots and lots of Yeahbut assistants, because these Yeahbut eggs seem to be everywhere.

Even to the clear promises of Baptism and the Holy Communion the Yeahbuts bring forth disconcerting arguments. The Scriptures plainly declare that Baptism saves us, like in Acts 2:38-39 and in Titus 3 and in 1 Peter 3:21, and people read these clear promises of God and respond, “Yeahbut, these passages don’t mean what they say. These mean to say that Baptism symbolizes the salvation that Jesus won for me and that I choose to accept from Him.” There are many other Yeahbut arguments regarding matters of the true faith and regarding the life that God gives to us. The Lord’s Supper receives all kinds of Yeahbut responses. The Easter Yeahbut seems to spread responses of doubt to every article of faith declared in the Scriptures.

But the Easter Yeahbut is very friendly. He is very good friends with the Old Adam and with all who are of his family. Anyone with a personal interpretation of the Scriptures, anyone with contemporary ideas about how to win people for Christ and how to make the Church more appealing, anyone with an agenda of satisfying felt needs and accepting people where they are, will immediately receive the Easter Yeahbut as a close and trusted friend.

So be on guard. The next time that you encounter the Easter Yeahbut or find one of his eggs lying around, remember the one whom the Easter Gospel proclaims. There are no yeahbuts in the Holy Scriptures. There are no yeahbuts in the kingdom of God. In Christ God’s promises are all “Yes and Amen!” (2 Corinthians 1-18-20)

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