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Since we will gather for worship and to partake of Christ’s body and blood given and shed for the remission of our sins, it is indeed good and right that we examine ourselves in accord with 1 Corinthians 11:28-29: “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”

We do so this week on the basis of Psalm 130, where we read: “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning. Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.”

And it is true: if the LORD God were to mark down our iniquities – all the ways and all the times in which we have transgressed His holy commandments – who could stand? The answer, of course, is not one of us. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We are all guilty and deserving of His eternal wrath and punishment on account of our sins.

Though God’s law condemns us all to eternal torment on account of our sins, the psalmist writes: “But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” Though we cannot be acceptable to God on the basis of His law on account of our sins and our sinful hearts, there is another way to be acceptable in His eyes – to have our sins forgiven and washed away and to be accounted righteous and holy in God’s eyes – and that is through faith in Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. He fulfilled the righteous demands of the law in our stead, and He suffered our just punishment when He was crucified and died upon the cross. His resurrection on the third day is proof that God accepted His sacrifice as full payment for sin and that through faith in Him we are justified and counted righteous and holy in God’s judgment.

It is as the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 3:20-26: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

Instead of trusting in our own sin-tainted righteousness which comes far, far short in every way, we place our confidence in the LORD. Our soul waits upon Him, because with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. In Jesus Christ, the LORD God has redeemed us from all our sins and offers and gives to us, through the preaching of the Gospel and through the right administration of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, His mercy and forgiveness, and life everlasting!

I ask you before God: Do you acknowledge that you are a sinner and have sinned in thought, word and deed? Do you confess and agree with God that you are guilty and deserving of his wrath and punishment? Do you trust that Christ Jesus has truly redeemed you from the curse of God’s law? Do you also believe that Jesus, in the Sacrament, gives you to partake of His body and blood which were given and shed that your sins might be forgiven you? As a fruit of your faith, do you truly desire and seek God’s help to amend your life and live it in accord with God’s Word?

If you are truly sorry for your sins and look to Christ and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross for pardon and forgiveness, I announce unto you the grace of God and, in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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Some people wonder how a virus so small we can’t even see it (except with an image created by an electron microscope) can cause illness and even death and so change the world in which we live. This unseen enemy is causing illness, sometimes severe and life-threatening, and wreaking fear and havoc upon our lives. Why?

While I hate to speculate into the unknown or try to understand the workings of the Divine Creator, there are certain things He has revealed to us and we would do well to take them to heart.

First of all, consider the words of Psalm 2: “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (verses 1-3).

It’s happening! Our people, our teachers, our leaders are raging against the LORD and His Anointed (Christ means anointed). They deny Him as their Creator, they reject His commandments and they do not look in faith to Christ Jesus. In fact, in so many ways we fight against God and His Word — neglecting to hear and learn His Word or worship and honor Him, killing millions of unborn children He is creating in the womb, rejecting His design for marriage between a man and a woman and flaunting our own wickedness on TV and computer screens.

But, as the psalm says (verses 4-9), “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

People reject the LORD God who created them and gives them life, and they reject God the Son who came into this world to pay the price for their sins and win for all pardon and forgiveness, and so they come under God’s judgment — Christ Jesus will be their judge!

I think of God’s warnings to His own people in Deuteronomy 28:15, 20-21: “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee … The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me. The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.”

There are the four horses of Revelation 6:1-8: “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”

Think of how this has been fulfilled over the centuries and even in our own lifetimes. How many millions have died in wars and battles between nations and kingdoms? How many have died from crimes and violence? How many have died from famines and food shortages? And how many have died from disease and famine and other causes of death? Why? The Bible reveals to us that it is a part of the curse of sin upon this world and God permits it to bring us to examine our ways and look to Him for mercy and forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ, God the Son.

So, why the coronavirus and disease and death? I cannot tell you the specific reasons known only to God, but I can tell you from the Bible that God removes His hand of protection over us and allows us to suffer the consequences of our own sins and of sin in general in an effort to wake us up and make us see our own frailty and our need to repent of the sin and evil in our lives and then look to Him for mercy in the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus. And God does judge wickedness and disobedience — consider what happened to the wicked and unbelieving in the days of Noah, at Sodom and Gomorrah, and even to His own people again and again throughout the history recorded in the Bible.

If we do not repent, things will get worse and not better — the four horses will continue their work of vengeance and judgment in this world.

But God also gave this promise to His people: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).

Even if the rest of this world continues to rage against the LORD God and His Christ, it is certainly time for all who call themselves God’s people to examine their ways in the light of God’s Word, humbly repent of their sins and disobedience and look to Him for mercy for the sake of Jesus and His blood, shed upon the cross.

“Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:10-12).

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Jesus once said, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). And, when I see the things happening in our world today, it gives me cause to wonder about the answer to that question.

Yes, there are many who profess to be Christians, but how many are left who really hold to the true and Biblical Christian Faith?

How many believe the Triune God of the Bible created the heavens and earth and all things in six days (each with an evening and morning) and that the age of the earth is only about 6,000 years and not millions or billions of years old?

How many believe the account of the fall of mankind into sin in Genesis 3 or of God’s judgment upon the world in the Great Flood of Genesis 6-8? How many believe that the imagination of Man’s heart is (since the fall) evil from his youth (Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Jer. 17:9)?

How many believe all the Biblical accounts regarding the patriarchs and believers of the Old Testament period?

How many believe the Bible’s accounts of miracles in both the Old and New Testaments?

How many believe what the Bible teaches throughout about marriage being the lifelong union of one man and one woman unto one flesh? How many believe the Bible when it condemns fornication, adultery, homosexuality and every other perversion of God’s design for a man and woman in marriage as instituted by God in Genesis 2?

How many believe what the Bible says in regard to human life being God’s creative work in the womb and believe that abortion and euthanasia are contrary to God’s commandment against murder?

How many believe what the Bible teaches about the roles of men and women in the church and in the world? How many accept the Bible’s prohibition against women in the public ministry?

How many believe the commandments of God are good and right even though we all come short of keeping them as God intends and they reveal the sinfulness of our thoughts, desires, words and actions? How many believe the Bible’s teaching regarding their utter sinfulness before God and their inability to be acceptable to God on the basis of their own works and life?

How many believe that Jesus is truly God the Son in human flesh, born into this world of the virgin Mary; that He lived a sinless life in the stead of all mankind and then was crucified to atone for the sins of all mankind and rose bodily from the grave on the third day? How many believe He has ascended to the right hand of God the Father in heaven where He is over all things, and that He is coming again to raise up all the dead and will judge every human being who has ever lived?

How many believe that they — not just others — need to repent daily of the many sins and shortcomings in their lives and look in faith to Christ Jesus and His cross for mercy and forgiveness and then seek God’s help and strength to amend their lives and live in accord with God’s commandments?

How many believe that the only way to be acceptable to God and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness is through faith in Jesus Christ, which is not of our own will or decision but created by the Holy Spirit’s working through the promises of the Gospel?

How many believe there is only one way to be spared in God’s final judgment and not be condemned to the eternal fires of hell and that is through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world?

Yes, I could go on and on, but you get my point. Many who claim to be Christians are smorgasbord Christians. They pick and choose what parts of the Bible they believe and reject or ignore the others. But we won’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible are used when we are judged on the Last Day.

Considering the current direction of the world, most churches and so many people who still claim to be Christian, “when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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When did God create the heavens and the earth? Again, the Bible answers that question for us when it says: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…” (Gen. 1:1).

Though some would attempt to extend the six days of creation into long periods of time and others would introduce a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 with the claim that the angels were a part of an earlier failed creation, the Bible is quite clear that the six days are, literally, six days.

In Genesis 1, we read: “And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Gen. 1:5), with the same parameters mentioned of each day; and, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Gen. 1:31).

The Bible also makes clear that all things were created within the six days when it says: “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day” (Ex. 20:11); and, “Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee” (Neh. 9:6).

When did the six days of creation occur? While it would be a mistake to make a doctrinal issue out of a specific date or year, the Bible’s genealogical records indicate that creation occurred approximately 4,000 years before Christ, or approximately 6,000 years ago — numbers which can be calculated based on the ages of the patriarchs when sons were born to them, the lengths of kings’ reigns and other dates or events in the Bible, such as the exile and destruction of the temple (e.g., Gen. 5 and 11; 1 and 2 Kings; 1 and 2 Chron.).

Though the Bible contradicts modern “scientific” theory regarding the age of the earth, there is no contradiction with the true evidence, which suggests a young earth and a catastrophic and universal flood (Genesis 6-8). Believers accept the accuracy of God’s account of creation which is recorded for them in the pages of the Bible.

[Scripture quoted from the King James Version of the Bible]

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