Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We Shall Ever Forgive . . . & . . . Live

A thought and emotion provoking image on this day of 9/11:

In my Internet search I also found:

While the first image does not say the same as the second, such remembrance leads to the same in many if not even in all instances.  Remembering the wrong done and the loss incurred ultimately leads to anger and resentment and eventually even hatred.

We humans do not have the capability of erasing such things from our memories.  We can suppress them or avoid them or ignore them.  We can try to bury them with busyness and other thoughts.  But we are designed to remember.  Our contacts and encounters are stored permanently in our memories.

However, we do not have to dredge up our memories.  We do not have to make them our point of focus.

Furthermore, at least for those who are regenerated into God’s Holy Communion in Christ, we have the gift of Forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not equal forgeting.

Forgiveness is the disassociation of those who are forgiven from their sinful actions.

This is how the Lord says concerning this matter:

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.  (Hebrews 8:12)

How is it that the omniscient God who knows all and remembers all is able to say that He will remember His forgiven ones’ sins no more?  It is because He has taken their guilt and made it His own and paid the price of redemption Himself.

As a good friend frequently reminds me, guilt is not a feeling, it is an accounting term, a legal accounting term.  Guilt is not merely a feeling that accompanies awareness of wrongdoing.  Guilt is the accounting that binds a person to the wrongs that have been done.  It is the pronouncement of an unpayable debt.  Redemption from guilt can only be paid by one who is free of such debt, one who has no guilt, one who has committed no wrong.

This is what God has done for sinners.  He took the sin of the world and declared the entire world to be guiltless in Christ.  This does not mean that people are guilt free apart from Christ.  Only in Christ is this declaration valid.  The justification that God has accomplished for all is IN Christ.  God applies this declaration to individuals through Baptism, baptism into Christ.

In this way God divorces individuals from their unrighteousness and marries them to His own righteousness in Christ.  Therefore, for all who are in Christ, there remains no condemnation.  Thus, for all who are in Christ, He remembers their sin no more, for He has set them free from their sin so that it is no longer accounted as theirs.

So what does it profit a person to cling to the memory of their lost loved ones?  Surely we will remember.  Surely various dates will cause us to remember them and what gifts they have been to us and in many ways continue to be to us.  Surely we will remember the wisdom taught to us by parents and grandparents and other teachers.  Surely we will rejoice in such remembrance.  But what value is remembrance that recalls grief and perpetuates the sense of loss?

There is truly only one such remembrance that serves us profitably.  That is the continual remembrance of our loss of accountability for our sin, the loss effected for us in our baptism and continually renewed for us in Christ’s Holy Supper.  Through these our identification of guilty ones has been taken from us and replaced with identification with the name of Jesus, the holiness of God.  In Him we rejoice in remembering this great and wonderful loss, a loss that is everlasting profit and blessing to us.

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Confusing Propaganda in Christendom

This morning as I was preparing for my day with prayer and hymns alongside of contemplating planning for my workday and responsibilities, after checking a weather forecast I also visited a Christian/Lutheran site and was reminded that today is the anniversary of the 09-11-2001 events.  I occasionally visit this blog to see what is presented.  Here is a snapshot of today’s posting and the previous post.

As I observed this my heart felt distressed.  I wondered which of the two is really what is being practiced during this Fifteenth Week after Trinity by those professing to be Christians.

I do realize that with this particular choice of images that the blogger’s motives and intended conveyance could be that Christians should remember those who suffered from this incidence of worldly violence and wickedness so as to be moved to pray for those who suffered as well as for those who committed this great wickedness.  Certainly this is to put the best construction on the intentions behind the use of this image.

But is this in any way indicated by the blogger?  Is this at all what is commonly understood by “Never Forget”?

A Google Internet search produced this compilation of images.  There appears to be a plethora of images produced concerning the sentiments and beliefs of people regarding the 9-11-01 events and the information disseminated by the government and media agencies.

Ultimately, however, what real advantage lies in remembrance of this day?  Who truly benefits from it?

If we stand back and divorce ourselves from the emotional impact of whatever is perceived regarding 9-11-01, what has been the result of propagating remembrance of this?  What things have been pursued in connection with “remembering”?

The bottom line is the point of concern.  With this image is expressed a great and horrible world-view, one that perpetuates itself and brings endless abuse, suffering, and grief.

“I learned on 9/11/01. Never Forget!!

Never Forgive!! Enough Said.”

Is this not the prevailing mindset and sentiment of those who say: “Never Forget”?

I certainly am not a defender of the religion of Islam.  I believe it to be a great evil in the world.  I believe that it enslaves people to a false god who hides his true identity, demanding to be called “the merciful” without any example of mercy demonstrated.  He demands to be embraced as the one who “oft forgives” without showing forgiveness.  He does not redeem but demands sacrifice.  He demands war against all of mankind, not in defense but to conquer by brute force.

This is the way of sinful mankind.  This is the way taught by their father, who has promoted disruption and deception and murder from the beginning.  This is the way of the sinful nature in which all men are conceived and born.

But this is not the way of the Lord.  This is not what He espouses or commands.  This is not the way of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.

His way is the way of forgiveness from the heart.  His way is to pray for one’s enemies.  His way is the way of the cross, bearing the shame of sinful mankind, offering forgiveness and life in exchange.

The Lord is merciful.  His command to His people is that they should not act vengefully.

For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.  (Hebrews 10:30)

Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures? To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.  (Deuteronomy 32:34-36)

Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.  (Romans 12:16-21)

This concept is entirely foreign to the sinful nature.  Sadly, very few who profess to be Christian truly understand this either.

Thus, the vengeance of the Lord is often preached to the opposite end of what He Himself declares.  His judgment is turned upside down and inside out.  He Himself explains it very plainly.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:   That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.  (John 3:14-21)

What is the Lord’s recompense for evil?  What does the Lord mean by saying that vengeance belongs to Him?

He shows us from the cross.  On the cross He punishes wickedness in His own body and soul.  Having taken the flesh of humanity, having taken the sin of the world into Himself, He took vengeance for all of the wickedness and evil of all time.  He paid the vengeance price with His own suffering and death, His own rejection by the authorities and the religious leaders and the people and mankind.  He took the world’s condemnation and cried out in His suffering: FORGIVE!

We find this as His declared will already in Genesis.  He reiterates it endlessly throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, again in the New Testament Scriptures.

Yet the Lord is not blind to the daily struggles that mankind faces in this world of sin.  As a true Father, He does provide measures to help curb these so that evil does not completely obliterate His creation, especially for the sake of Man.  Thus He does speak of various temporal forms of punishment against wickedness in the world.  He does provide rulers, all of whom are sinful and therefore do not follow His will fully, often even with great wickedness of their own.  Yet through them He does limit and curb overall chaos.  This also is referred to as vengeance, which finds its ultimate display in the suffering and death of Jesus as well.

For the Lord and His household of faith, the continual cry of the heralds is: FORGIVENESS!

Forgiveness for all!

Sadly, most refuse this forgiveness and continue in their unbelief or self-defined beliefs.  Either way the result is the same, they turn the Lord’s forgiveness into something else.  They hinder themselves and others from rightly perceiving the will of the Lord.  Thus many view Christendom as nothing more than another worldly abuse, as a house of hypocrites and hate.

But that is not the way of Christendom.  The true Church of Christ is all about forgiveness and restoration and the love of God in Christ.

The Remembrance of the true Church is that proclaimed with the eating and drinking of the body and blood of the Lord, where it is His Remembrance that is shown and taught and proclaimed till He comes.  It is as with the Old Testament Passover, where the Lord says that the blood is a sign unto Himself so that He Passes Over His redeemed.  He made the same declaration concerning the rainbow, that it was sign to Himself never again to destroy the world by a flood.1  His signs then also serve us, as we see that He is true to His promises to do as He has promised.  In His Church of the New Testament He has replaced circumcision with Baptism, the Passover with His Supper, and the various sacrifices with the divine liturgy and Confession and Absolution.

Those who receive and practice these as He has ordained them, without reinterpreting them, without redefining them, without adulterating and compromising them, they are the true Church.  Within this true Church forgiveness, mercy, grace, and peace reign.  These are what the true Church teaches the saints to hear and to remember so that they may continue in the new life into which they have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

The true Church has always been a tiny remnant.  False representatives and false churches have filled the earth so that very few ever know the joys of God’s Holy Communion.  But where the pure means of grace are administered, there the true saints are congregated by the Lord to Himself and they are continually renewed in Him.  Thus they are moved to act in conformity with what He restores in them.  As He forgives, so they also forgive.  As He remembers His promise not to call to His remembrance their sins and wickedness, so they demonstrate to those who do them wrong.

So, if Christians are moved to Remembrance on this day of great calamity twelve years ago, let this be their remembrance, their preaching, their teaching, their confession, and their practice.

The peace of God to all in Christ Jesus!


1 The flood was used to save Noah and his family from obliteration from those who had turned from fearing the Lord to their own ways.  The promised Seed and Salvation was to come through Noah.  As the last believer and preacher of faith in the Lord on earth, he and his family would have faced the same persecution as is being demonstrated today.  They would have been killed and Jesus would not have been born to save the world.  After the flood, God declared that this means of preventing the extinction of His people would not be repeated.  We see the fulfillment of this when unbelievers began to organize at the tower of Babel to establish a one-world-order by which they intended to raise themselves over mankind.  At Babel the Lord disrupted their wicked intentions by means of the confusion of their languages so that they dispersed and desisted their works of establishing themselves as gods over the rest mankind.  Although they continued in their unbelief and wickedness, nevertheless they were halted from their united efforts against the Lord and His plan of salvation.

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