Summary: Rescue. The news media loves to tell us stories about rescue. (plenty of stories you can add)God is righteous and we are not. God is holy and we are not. Our human need is to be loved, to be accepted. by God. This was Luther's soul search.
In Jesus Holy Name October 25, 2020
Romans 3:22-25a Reformation Redeemer
“Rescue: The Story of Martin Luther and Us”
Rescue. The news media loves to tell us stories about rescue. When pilot Sully Sullenberger managed to crash land his disabled U.S. Airways jet on the Hudson river and save the lives of 158 passengers and crew, his praises were rightly sung by the press and all who heard of his skill.
There was a rescue story out of Kilgore, Texas years ago. The story is told of a man who had been pulled unconscious from his car after an accident. His good Samaritans carried him to a nearby gas station. It was there that the motorist came to. He opened his eyes, took one look around and began struggle desperately.
Fearing that he might hurt himself the man was forcibly subdued and taken to a hospital. After his immediate needs had been tended to, he was asked why he had struggled so hard to escape from his rescuers. He explained how he had been taken to a Shell gas station. When he regained consciousness, he quickly scanned his surroundings. He saw the Shell sign. Unfortunately, at that moment someone was blocking his view of the first letter, the “S” of the Shell sign. He struggled because he was certain he had died and had awakened in hell.
(sermon by Rev Ken Klaas July 2015)
His reaction was pretty normal. It is a scary truth. To this day Satan encourages people to deny the existence of hell. Satan encourages a culture to throw out the teachings of Christianity as no longer needed in the modern world.
There is a problem so fundamental that it is at the root of all the other problems we have. Stated in one sentence, it goes like this: God is righteous and we are not. God is holy and we are not.
God is pure and we are not.
God is perfect and we are not.
God is just and we are not.
God is perfect love and we are not.
God is always good and we are not.
This is our human predicament. Something is wrong between us and God, and deep in our hearts we know this to be true. Something has gone badly wrong in the world, and even if we don’t know what it is, we know things aren’t the way they ought to be.
God demands perfection. If you ask people, “Do you have to be perfect to go to heaven?” In our postmodern culture most will answer no. But the answer is yes. Hell is the destination of people who do not have peace with a holy and righteous God.
Our broken commandments have truly and profoundly and utterly separated us from God. Everything God is, we are not. What we are, God is not. Instead of harmony, there is friction. Instead of friendship, there is enmity. By nature the whole human race is under judgment from God and separated from Him because of our broken ethics and broken commandments.
If you doubt the truth of what I have said, take a good look at the person in the mirror. Study the image you see looking back at you. What about the man or woman in the mirror? Are you holy, righteous and pure? Are you perfect in all your ways? Are you without sin in all you do? If you are honest, you must admit the answer is no.
What is to be done about the great gulf that stands between us and God? How can we be rescued? When Adam and Eve gave in to the suggestion of the serpent and tasted the forbidden fruit they were overwhelmed by guilt. They went into hiding. They scurried into the bushes filled with guilt and fear. Their perfect world collapsed like an accordion. On their own they could not bridge the gap. It was their Creator who rescued them. (phrase from Max Lucado Anxious for Nothing)
Christians in all denominations are forever indebted to Martin Luther. He brought Christianity out of the Dark Ages. The truth of the words of Jesus had been lost. God knew our human state, ever since the fall of Adam and Eve. Death has become a reality in the world… No one escapes. That makes people worry about how to please a righteous and holy God. When we break God’s commandments, guilt overwhelms. Guilt sucks the life out of our souls. I love this passage in Hebrews 2:14. (read) Grace rescues and restores.
The greatest human need is to be loved, to be accepted. We need to know that another human being loves us and accept us. A hug is always reassuring. That’s why we spend so much time hugging our children. If children are not hugged and loved…. The result will be a hole in their heart, something will always be missing…