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And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience - among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.(ESV)



There's No Going Back

Wednesday of Easter 4

29 April 2015

There's no going back. Families that have college-aged children returning for the summer vacation will know what I am talking about. Relations with parents have changed by the degree of liberty afforded to children in college. They set their own schedule, clean their rooms however and whenever they want (usually never, by the look of them!), and develop new friends and avocations. They could and should never return to being adolescents who are under the constant care of parents. This is why the trend of grown children returning home to be looked after in the womb of the family is so disturbing, because it represents a return to adolescence and flight from adulthood. Everyone needs to grow up by being responsible for themselves in the world.


We can't go back again to the pagan way of life into which we were born as fallen creatures. We have been bought from the way of death into the gift of God in Christ our Lord. To go back is death all over again; a kind of permanent dying by which the worms of devil, world, and sinful flesh feed on our souls and hearts; making us putrefying cadavers far sooner than usual. It is a flight from righteous service and the life of suffering with Christ in the world. It is a categorical rejection of the gift of God, which is eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord (Rm 6:23). There can be no going back. For our Lord calls us by His grace into His service.


Scripture is full of reminders of our "former way of life," which is offered for at least a couple of reasons. It warns us that we cannot go back again, like the dog to its vomit (2Pt 2:22). There must never again be a return to slavery to the elemental things of the world (Gal 3:4, 9). Who, once relieved of slavery to a vicious master, longs to return to servitude under him? Shouldn't they remember the pain and suffering of that slavery? Shouldn't they flee from having his authority reasserted over them? No former slave would ever want to go back.  The Bible reminds us of our enslaved past to lead us to thank God. Look what we have been saved from! How deep our depravity. How desperate our fall. How hopeless our case. The Bible calls it a delivery from death. Who, brought from the brink of death, does again what brought him to that point? Oh, thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot go back because it was bad the old way. We cannot go back because it cost the Lord Jesus the inestimably great purchase price of His life. No, there's no going back again.


John Chrysostom


"'The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Rm 6:23). After speaking of the wages of sin, in the case of the blessings, he has not kept to the same order. He does not say, the wages of good deeds, "but the free gift of God;" to show, that it was not by themselves that they were freed, nor was it a due they received, not a return, nor a wage for labors, but by grace all these things came about. This was also superior because He did not only free them, or change their condition to a better one. He not only freed them, but also gave them much more than before, through His Son. What He did, He did without any labor or trouble upon their part.


"All this Paul has placed between the subject of grace and the overthrow of the Law, which is next (Rm 7). That these things might not make them spiritually lethargic, he inserted the part about strictness of life, using every opportunity of rousing the hearer to the practice of virtue. For when he calls death the wages of sin, he alarms them again, and secures them against dangers to come. For the words he uses to remind them of their former state, he also employs so as to make them thankful and more secure against any inroads of temptations."

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 12.1

Almighty God, You have called Your Church to witness that in Christ You have reconciled us to Yourself. Grant that by Your Holy Spirit the Church might proclaim the good news of Your salvation so that all who hear it might receive the gift of salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


For the members of the Council of Presidents of the LCMS, that they would be kept safe in their travels


For Meta Nelson, who has been diagnosed with Leukemia, that the Lord Jesus would guard and guide the doctors and health professionals serving her unto her health


For President Obama, Members of Congress, and the Justices of the Supreme Court, that the Lord would watch over them and grant them His wisdom

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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