Going Deeper 03.12.2021

The Gospel reading for Lent 4... John 3:14-21

"And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God."

It is important to note that God's desire is to save the whole world.  The sending of His Son to "be lifted up" was a mission which covered the sins of all people of all times and in all places.  However, the link to this salvation is belief.

Lutherans have some confusing theology here.  We teach, as Luther wrote in his Small Catechism explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles' Creed, that "we cannot by our own understanding or effort believe in the Lord Jesus Christ or come to Him.  But the Holy Spirit has called us by the Gospel."  In other words, it is up to us to believe or reject the Gospel.  We cannot believe without God's help, but God leaves it up to us to receive that help.

The point is this:  If we come to believe, we give the 'credit' to God's working through the Holy Spirit.  If we are among those who do not believe, we have only ourselves to blame for our condemnation.

But we finish back at our starting point: God desires for us and all of His children to believe and be saved.  And we are saved for a purpose... to let God's light shine in and through us so that others might be drawn to the light, believe, and be saved.   There is no greater work than to share the love we have received.

With You in the Light,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"