History has shown that a religion of only laws and regulations leads to oppression. People have been burned alive because they dare to question. Others are beheaded because they will not convert. These are the extremes. Oppression is seen in a less obvious way when people struggle with their conscience, because they cannot do what is demanded of them. Many in such a religion live in fear; they are compelled to pretend they are keeping their religious laws.
“Through the law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20). Even God’s Law, as given in The Ten Commandments, may make the person temporarily proud to keep it outwardly, but must eventually make him depressed with guilt. The Law gives no comfort or peace.
Comfort and peace are given in the Good News (the Gospel) that God, who gave the Ten Commandments, reconciled us to Himself through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. “He bore our sins in His own body on the tree, so that we will die to sin and live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). We celebrate the return of this Gospel to the Christian church nearly 500 years ago at Peace Lutheran Church this Sunday. Service time is 10:00 a.m.
“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” These are the first words of the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, passed when at least one of the states, Virginia, had a Christian denomination as an official state religion. Does this amendment allow for the free exercise of any religion? What about a religion which emboldens people in a suicidal act to detonate a bomb which kills and maims innocent people? What about a religion that allows for killing of a person who will not convert? Or one who chooses to leave that religion? These are issues with which this nation will have to wrestle in the future.
In the meantime the secularization of America is creating a vacuum. If the adherence to the Christian faith continues to decline, the “free exercise” of religion will open the door to a religion of terror. World events are a “wake up” call to those who profess to be Christian. “Awake, you who sleep. Arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Eph. 5:14). God’s Word wakes us up at Peace Lutheran Church. Sunday service time is 10:00 a.m.
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25). These words of Jesus astonished His disciples: “Who then can be saved?” The disciples knew the propensity to trust in whatever wealth one has, which could include stored up silver or gold, investments, houses, land, animals, or business. It could also include in our day property insurance and health insurance and retirement benefits. One does not have to be rich to trust in possessions more than God. That violates the First Commandment, YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS! No wonder the disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus answered, “With men it is impossible, but not with God” (10:27). Jesus Himself is the answer to this impossibility. In the following verses He tells how He will be condemned to death and be killed. He will “give His life a ransom for many” (10:45). Salvation comes as a gift from God to those who recognize their idolatrous ways and repent, trusting in Jesus who died for them and arose again. For them Jesus will be their richest treasure. The Holy Spirit will lead them to view all other possessions as valuable only as they help serve their Lord and show love to their neighbor. Come to Peace Lutheran Church for this “impossibility” and this greatest treasure. Sunday service time is 10:00 a.m.
When asked about divorce, Jesus replied, affirming marriage as a life-long relationship: “From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark10:6-9).
He further explained that divorce was allowed by Moses “Because of your hardness of your heart.” The same is true about premarital sex, extra-marital sex, same sex relations, or indulging in pornography. This is sinful humanity rebelling against the good order that God provided in marriage. God punishes such with much grief, mental troubles, and physical diseases. God does this so the sinner will repent.
Marriage provides the setting for children to be loved, disciplined, taught, and brought up in the knowledge God’s mercy and grace in Christ. A loving husband is the picture of Christ loving and forgiving those who repent. A wife who honors her husband is a picture of all believers in Christ who honor Him, their Lord and Savior. No other setting offers such happiness in this world. Marriage is affirmed at Peace Lutheran Church. Sunday service time is 10:00 a.m.
There are certain aspects of Christianity which even the media will commend: Helping the poor, bringing mercy and compassion to victims of flood, earthquake, and war, loving one’s neighbor, or even loving and forgiving one’s enemies. These works are all commanded by God as recorded in the Bible. Only a hardened bigot would object to this way of life.
These works, however, are not the essence of Christianity. They are the fruit. The essence does not fare so well in eye of the establishment. It is opposed to teaching that God CREATED all things, making people in His own image (Genesis 1), though that is the basis for caring in a special way for other people. It is horrified at the Biblical thought that human beings, since the sin of Adam (Gen. 3), are born in sin, inclined toward evil (Jer. 17:9), and are in need of a renewal which only God can give (Psalm 51:10). The world hates the teaching that only through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, upon the cross, and only those who believe in this Christ are forgiven and have eternal life (John 3:36). When a Christian leader who sets forth these teachings comes to town, he will either be hated or ignored.
Yet this is the “tree” that brings forth fruit (John 15:5). If you go to some nations where the “tree” has been chopped down, you may not want to live there. Come to Peace Lutheran Church where the tree is nourished. Sunday service time is 10:00 a.m.