Sunday, April 23, 2017

From the beginning, it was all about saving souls

Over the course of a lifetime wasted listening to Episcopal priests downplaying the notion of heaven, reinterpreting the meaning of "eternal life", and scoffing at those who sought to "save souls", I have come to realize how harmful those sermons were to the body of Christ. In the first decades of Christianity, salvation and the promise of eternal life were central to the spread of the Gospel as evidenced by this Sunday's reading from 1 Peter 1:3-9

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
Granted that the work of saving souls belongs not to man, it is clear that preaching the good news of salvation through belief in and love for Jesus remains as important today as it did in the time of Peter.

Giving up on modern preaching which is afraid to mention the hereafter and instead is obsessed with speaking out on issues of the day, I turn today to a classic sermon by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1898-1981) entitled, "A Living Hope of the Hereafter",

 This old world is doomed. It is a sinful world, an awful world, and man can never make it a good world. He can protest, he can march, he can pass acts of Parliament. But he can never make the world good, because the sin is in himself. When he lived in paradise, he turned it into a place of shame.
O No! Man can never put this world right, but God can, and He will. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." A lively hope of what? That this old world is going to be renewed! The regeneration is going to take place in the entire cosmos. When? When the Lord Jesus Christ comes again in glory. The Lord Jesus Himself tells of "the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory' (Matt. 19:28b). That is the Christian message. He has triumphed over all His enemies. He is risen, and He is seated at the right hand of God. What is He doing? He is waiting until His enemies become His footstool (Ps. 110:1). Then He will come back to earth again as "King of kings and Lord of lords." He will destroy out of existence all that is sinful and vile, ugly and foul. He will renew the whole creation, and bring in His glorious kingdom. The City of God, the New Jerusalem, will descend, and God will make His tabernacle amongst men.
This is what the living hope means to us. If we are Christians we shall be there. Not as vague spirits floating in a nameless sea of existence. No--but in this body as glorified, delivered from all vestiges of sin and shame, weakness and wildness. You will be identified as yourself. You will be in a glorified body. "Our citizenship is in heaven," says Paul to the Philippians, "whence also we wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change this our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working of that mighty power by which he is able to subdue even all things unto himself" (3:20-21).

Amen to that Brother! 


  1. You've put your finger on what's wrong with the revisionist religious groups. They are sure that repairing this world is their goal, and the idea of eternity is an afterthought, if a thought at all.

    1. And they don't see how sinful that preoccupation really is.

  2. Katherine and Pewster,
    What is going on? MCJ is not up and SF is on Hiatus?

    1. I don't know, Dale. Chris Johnson says he's going to either repair the site or put up a new one, but I don't see anything going on with either. He's having a good time on Twitter (@therealcsj) but it's not as good, from my point of view, as having the blog where commenters can respond to him and to one another.

    2. Katherine,
      Thanks for the information. I am not a twitter or facebook person.