Category: Salvation (page 1 of 30)

His Strategy is a Table

God does not hide from us. A lot of people think God won’t associate with sinners or with brokenness, that God separates himself from the fallen creation. But we know that’s not true.

God went out looking for Adam and Eve, right? Where are you? What’s going on? Our God is very interested in redeeming the world and restoring broken relationships. He goes to the lost and he finds them. He goes to the sick and he heals them. He goes to the broken and he fixes them. He goes to the sinners and takes all of their sin into himself and he forgives them. God’s mission is to do whatever it takes, everything it takes, for as long as it takes, so long as it takes him into closer relationship with you and me.

So he hangs out with us. He eats and drinks with us. He talks with us and shares himself with us around a table. That’s his strategy for expressing his acceptance of you and how you experience that relationship with him.

Jesus says, “I am bringing food that lasts for eternity. The one who comes to me will never go hungry, the one who believes in me will never be thirsty.” He calls himself the true bread from heaven and the bread of life. He tells his disciples, “I am giving you a Kingdom!” Why, Jesus? “So you may eat and drink with me at my table!”

The Pharisees didn’t like the people Jesus hung out with. So they called Jesus names. They called him a glutton and a drunk. They called him a friend of sinners. They didn’t eat and drink with tax collectors and “sinners,” they didn’t associate with the poor, the crippled, the lame, or the blind because they thought God doesn’t hang out with those kinds of people.

They had God wrong. We’ve had him wrong for a long time. Our God wants to be in relationship with everyone. He always has. Jesus didn’t come here to change God’s mind about us, he came here to change our minds about God. When our God has his way, he is sitting at a great feast, eating and drinking with all of us – the lame who are now walking, the blind who can now see, the poor who are eating now, the sick who are now completely healed, and all the sinners whose transgressions have all been totally forgiven forever.

That’s what happens at the table of our Lord. That’s his strategy.

Peace,

Allan

The Goal of Forgiveness

Your forgiveness is a redemptive gift of God’s limitless love and amazing grace for the purpose of relationship with God. That’s the goal of forgiveness: To remove what stands between you and God so you can be a member of God’s family and eat and drink with him at his table.

The woman in Luke 7 kind of barges into Simon’s house to eat and drink with Jesus, and Simon doesn’t think she belongs. But Jesus says, no, she does belong at the table with me because her sins have been forgiven. Jesus sees her as forgiven. He regards her as righteous. There’s nothing to judge here – no sin. Jesus sees this woman as pure and clean and whole. Jesus makes the point clear when he asks Simon, “Do you see this woman?”

Do you see her the way I see her? As forgiven. Do you see what I see?

Jesus tells Simon that he sees kindness in this woman. He sees a tender heart, he sees love. He sees generosity and service. He sees sorrow for sin and gratitude for forgiveness. He sees her faith. He sees her as a restored daughter of God.

Forgiveness restores the relationship and places you at the table with the Messiah and with all of God’s people right now today and forever. In Luke 13, Jesus heals a woman, he delivers her from a crippling disease, and calls her a daughter of Abraham who’s been freed from Satan. In Luke 19, Jesus yanks Zacchaeus out of the tree and forgives his sins so he can eat and drink with him in Zacchaeus’ house. Why? Jesus says because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. Forgiveness restores the relationship.

In Luke 15, Jesus gives us the story of the prodigal son to show us that God’s love and forgiveness can take care of every kind of sin and can restore every kind of broken relationship. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, the Father says, “I’m not going to wait for you to pay your debt – you can’t! You’re not going to have to earn your way back into the family – I’m just going to take you back! I’m going to cover you completely with the glorious robes of my love and forgiveness!”

And the story ends with the forgiven son inside the Father’s house, at the Father’s table, eating and drinking to the sounds of music and dancing. Why? The Father says, “Because this son of mine was dead, but now he’s alive; he was lost, but now he is found.”

Sin destroys relationship with God. So God took care of it. God made his Son, who had no sin, to be sin for us. And our sin – this includes all of your sin – died with Jesus on the cross. So you are welcome to sit at Christ’s table with all of God’s people right now today and forever.

Peace,

Allan

House Call: Relationship

“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” ~Luke 5:30

Jesus broke in to the tax collector’s world so he could eat and drink with Levi and his friends. This is God’s great goal through Christ: relationship with you expressed and experienced around a table. Eating and drinking with Jesus communicates relationship. Everybody around the same table, eating the same food, sharing the same drink; community and acceptance, nothing between us, no barriers or animosity. Perfect face-to-face, elbow-to-elbow, feet under the same table, please pass the mashed potatoes relationship. This is how our Lord communicates the new realities in the Kingdom of God.

It’s not that people are in two different categories so you’re either righteous or you’re a sinner, you’re either healthy or you’re sick. It’s that we are all sinners, we are all terminally ill and racing towards eternal death, but Christ Jesus has come to us and changed everything! Jesus totally blows up all our categories and classifications. His table is for everybody! The table says God’s mercy and forgiveness is alive and active, there is healing and celebrating, there is the creation of a brand new world, and all are invited to receive it.

If this is the mission of Jesus – and it is – then it is also the mission of Jesus’ Church. We initiate with others. We go to the sick and dying, we invite the lonely and lost, we go out and we bring in, we make room for others at the table.

Jesus went to Levi’s workplace, he went to Levi’s house. Jesus is always looking for lost people and, when he sees them, he runs to them. We’re not always like that. We typically run away from people who don’t have it all together like we do. We think it’s going to be too messy. They’re going to have issues. It’ll be awkward.

See, there are two strategies on sick people. The Pharisees say quarantine. Isolate. Keep them at a distance. But Jesus says herd immunity all the way! Everybody together around my table at the same time! In my grace! In my presence! That’s how we heal the sick!

There are lots of women and men out there who have negative feelings about Jesus. They’ve had bad experiences with the Church. They’ve been ignored or neglected, judged and condemned. But if we will show a steady, regular, consistent, and persistent expression of Christ’s love and grace and invitation to his table, or to yours, they will see Jesus. They will experience the Great Physician, the promised Messiah who came here to shoulder our sins and to die our death so we can be forgiven and saved and healed.

Peace,

Allan

House Call: Revelation

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” ~Luke 5:31

There is so much revealed about Jesus in the very short story of the great banquet at Levi’s house. Who Jesus is and what Jesus came here to do and why and how he came to do it is revealed in his answer to the Pharisees who are questioning the sort of company he keeps. He is a doctor who has come to heal the sick. Those are his words. It sounds kind of like a mission statement, doesn’t it? I am a doctor and I have come to heal the sick. Why?

Because he knows. Jesus knows the world is sick. He knows God’s creation is sick. Men and women and children are sick. Families are sick. Communities and cities are sick. People are hurting, people are suffering, people are in pain and dying. And Jesus says I am the doctor!

The old prophet Jeremiah uses this kind of language as he is proclaiming the miseries of God’s people:

“We had hoped for peace, but no good has come; for a time of healing, but there was only terror… My heart is faint within me. Listen to the cry of my people… My people are crushed, I am crushed. I mourn and horror grips me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?” ~Jeremiah 8:15-22

God’s people cry out, “Is there a doctor in the house?” And Jesus Christ, the holy Son of God answers, “I Am! It’s Me!”

I am bringing to you the new age of the Kingdom of God. I am bringing to you new power and new possibilities and new hope that’s never been there before. I’ve got complete forgiveness for you and full holiness and total righteousness. Everything that’s making you sick and tired and weak, everything that’s keeping you from being who and what God created you to be, everything that’s killing you – I’ve got the cure!

You know, a doctor like that – you probably can’t just show up to see him without an appointment. He’s probably booked for six or seven months or more. And a person like you – you probably couldn’t even get an appointment with a doctor like this. A doctor this good probably isn’t taking new patients.

Except, no! Praise God the Great Physician makes house calls! He comes to you and knocks on your door! He comes to you and it doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter where you are, he meets you right there. Jesus goes to the tax collector’s booth and then he shows up at the tax collector’s house, at his table!

In Revelation 3, Jesus says, “Here I am. I’m right here. I stand at the door and knock.” It’s a house call. Always. “I am standing right here and I’m knocking. And if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in. And I will eat and drink with you and you will eat and drink with me.”

Peace,

Allan

Redeemed

This is the second of a three-part series on Ruth chapter four. This post considers Ruth 4:5-12.

At first, the nearer relative is eager to buy back Naomi’s property. “I will redeem it!” he says. Immediately. He knows Elimelech is dead and Naomi’s two sons are dead and she’s too old to have more kids, so there are no descendants to Elimelech’s line. This guy can just buy back the land and it’ll become a part of his family’s inheritance. Whatever he has to pay to redeem it, he’ll make up in the value of the property and the produce it provides. Yeah, of course I’ll take it!

Then Boaz observes, “You realize this property comes with Ruth and the obligation to carry on Naomi’s line in connection with the property.” And the first guy says, “If the land comes with a wife, I’m out!” This guy didn’t want to take on the risk or the responsibility. He didn’t want to spend his own money to purchase a wife and a mother-in-law only to have the kids he has with the wife take the property back to the mother-in-law’s possession. “I cannot do it,” he says. It’s not that he can’t, it’s that he won’t. He wouldn’t make the sacrifice. It wasn’t worth it to him.

Boaz thought it was worth it. Boaz wanted to make the sacrifice for the sake of Naomi and her family. So he did. He redeemed for Naomi what she had lost.

It’s easy to see why the Bible calls Jesus our redeemer and why his death on the cross is described as redemption. Naomi and Ruth were too poor to redeem themselves. And so are you.

You and I need a redeemer more than we need anything else. You need a redeemer to buy back everything you’ve lost, everything you’ve given up, everything the devil and this world have stolen from you. You need a redeemer to restore your righteousness and your holiness, to give back to you your honor and your good name and your place in the community of God’s people. You need a redeemer to fix what’s broken in your life and to make right everything that’s gone wrong. And Jesus Christ is the only one who can do it!

If anyone is in Christ: New Creation! The old has gone! The new has come! God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus has become for us our righteousness, holiness, and redemption!

And like Boaz, Jesus had to be related to us to redeem us.

Jesus left his home in glory; he gave up his authority and power and rights, he came to this earth and made himself nothing, he became a servant, he took on our humanity, our flesh and blood; he took on all our weaknesses and pains and sufferings, he took on all the risk and responsibility, and he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. He did all of that to redeem every part of you because he thinks you’re worth it. The Bible says you were redeemed at a price. Jesus paid that price with his own precious blood to buy you back, to put his name on you, to bring you into the eternal family of God forever.

Peace,

Allan

Thankful for His Coming

On November 21, 1943, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a letter from Tegel Prison: Life in a prison cell reminds me a great deal of Advent — one waits and hopes and potters about, but in the end what we do is of little consequence, for the door is shut, and it can only be opened from the outside.”

Christ is coming to rescue us from the dark prisons of our own existence. He is coming to deliver us from anxiety, from guilt, from sin, and from loneliness. To be ready for this rescue, we first have to recognize how fully we are enslaved. And, then, how thankful we are for his coming.

Peace,

Allan

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