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Psalm 25

 

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. For your name's sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me. Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles. (ESV)

What's the Key?

Thursday of Pentecost 20

30 October 2014

Imagine yourself on Christmas morning enjoying all the beautiful gifts with shiny bows and glistening paper under the Christmas tree. The boxes are all quite large and everyone has great joy in tearing the packaging open to find what is hidden under all that paper and ribbon. At the end, there seems to be one package left, and although it is beautifully wrapped, it is only about the size of a gift card box. It doesn't really seem all that significant in comparison to the other packages, so what's the big deal? Lo and behold, the package has your name on it. It rattles a little when you shake it before opening it, but you open it without much anticipation figuring it is a Starbuck's gift card. But when you peer into the box after taking out the tissue, you can see that there is a single key with a jaunty red ribbon tied to it. When you look more carefully at the key you can see that it is a new key for an automobile. The truth begins to dawn on you. The key means that your family has given you a new car for Christmas. Heedless of the neighbors, you rush out to the street in your fluffy pink bathrobe to see parked by the curb a beautiful new automobile with a huge red bow on the windshield. Immediately you put the key in the ignition to fire up the power plant of the car. Who wouldn't?

 

No rational person would look at the key and presume it to be the gift of a key. The key always implies that there is something to be unlocked with it. The key and the car go together. They are inseparable. A key without a lock is as useless as a lock without a key.

 

So it is for the law. You may not just take a small component of the law, separating it out and not also bring with it the rest of the law. This was the argument of the false apostles who were plaguing the Galatian church. They were teaching that Christians could submit to circumcision without obligating themselves to the rest of the law. They were arguing for a key without an auto to start; a small component without the obligation to keep the whole law. The law is a complete package as Paul says, "I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law" (Gal 5:3). The key to this dilemma is that another message entirely must supersede the law. The key to our salvation is Christ. And just as circumcision obligates us to the law, Christ the key puts us into the gospel with all the divine promises of life and salvation. That's the key to the whole thing.

 

Martin Luther

 

"Whoever is circumcised is also obligated to do the whole law. Whoever accepts Moses in one thing is obliged to accept him in all things. Whoever observes one part of the law as necessary must observe all the other parts of it. Nor does it help to say that circumcision is necessary, but that the remaining laws of Moses are not. The same principle by which you hold to circumcision obligates you to the whole law. Now to observe the whole law is nothing other than showing in fact that the Christ has not yet come. If this is true, then all the Jewish ceremonies and laws about foods, places, and times must be observed; and we must still look for Christ, who would make obsolete the kingdom and priesthood of the Jews and is to establish a new kingdom throughout the world. But the entire Scripture testifies, and the facts themselves show, that Christ has already come, has redeemed the humankind by His death, has abrogated the law and has fulfilled what all the prophets predicted about Him. Therefore by abolishing the law He granted grace and truth (Jn 1:17). Accordingly, the law does not justify; neither do its works. It is faith in the Christ who has already come that justifies.

 

"Today there are those who, like the false apostles at that time [of Galatians], have wanted to tie us down to certain laws of Moses that are pleasing to them. This must never be suffered. For if we permit Moses to rule over us in one part, we are forced to endure his whole authority. Therefore we do not allow ourselves to be oppressed by any law of Moses at all. We admit, of course, that we should read and listen to Moses as one who predicted Christ and witnessed to Him, also that we should look to him for examples of the most excellent laws and moral precepts; but we do not grant him any authority over our conscience. Let him remain dead and buried, and 'no one knows the place of his burial' (Deut 34:6)." 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 5.3
 
Prayer

Merciful Lord, cleanse and defend Your Church by the sacrifice of Christ.  United with Him in Holy Baptism, give us grace to receive with thanksgiving the fruits of His redeeming work and daily follow in His way; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 

For Kim Cheng, who is undergoing cancer therapy, that the Lord would grant strength and healing

 

For all police and other public safety officers, that they would be kept safe in the conduct of their offices

 

For Pastor Charles St-Onge, as he awaits a call into service proclaiming the good news of Christ, that he would patiently expect the Lord's answer
Art: Crucifixes  Uppsala Cathedral (medieval)

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