Please pray for the Church Council as we have our weekly meeting this evening.
Today we look at Paragraph 14 of "Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony.” Yesterday’s topic was given to us as the fall of humanity into sin; today’s is the effects of the fall on humanity.
Paragraph 14 (today)
Fallen in that first sin,
we prove each day
that apart from grace
we are guilty sinners:
we fail to thank God,
we break God’s laws,
we ignore our tasks.
Looking for life without God,
we find death;
grasping for freedom outside the law,
we trap ourselves in Satan's snares;
we lose the gift of joy.
[For the effects of the fall on humanity, see especially Romans 1:18-3:18.]
In their notes for Paragraph 14, the writers of the Contemporary Testimony point us to this long passage in Romans. Paul wrote this passage as the foundation for his case for salvation by faith. He begins with a hinge that connects this week’s discussion on sin to last week’s reflection on creation:
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power
and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what
has been made, so that people are without excuse (Rom 1:20).
When we read the rest of Romans 1, we could feel pretty good about ourselves; we think, “Amen, Lord, this sinful world is indeed without excuse.” But then Paul turns that argument on us in 2:1, when he says, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else.” Still, if we believed we could be made right with God by doing good works, we might come out of chapter 2 feeling pretty good about ourselves. But in chapter 3, Paul lays it out: “There is no one righteous, not even one (3:10). Everyone, Paul says, “Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin” (3:9). That includes me; that includes you.
But we don’t have to read it to know it; as the Contemporary Testimony says, “we prove each day that apart from grace we are guilty sinners.” It goes on to remind us that, in our pursuit of life, freedom and pleasure, we find exactly the opposite and lose what God offers.
Sometimes we note how this pandemic is bringing out the good in people, yet we know it is bringing out sinful behaviour as well. One example is racism, in the news again today because of cruel anti-asian comments by a prominent Canadian pop singer. So quickly we can hurt innocent people with hateful words; words like these also give license to others to spew hate on our streets. The escalation of such behaviour recently prompted the Asian-American Christian Collaborative to publish the Statement on Anti-Asian Racism in the time of COVID-19. You may find this statement useful in correcting people you know who use racist language to describe COVID-19. (This statement was recommended to me by the president of Calvin University in Grand Rapids.If you are aware of a similar Canadian document, please share it.)
Lest we despair about our sinful selves and society and give up, however, both Paul and the Contemporary Testimony hint of good news to come, with that one word, “grace.” So we join with songwriters, old and new, to sing of God’s grace,which meets us at our point of sinful need. Three examples suffice for now:
Philip Doddridge (1740), “Grace ‘Tis the Charming Sound” (lyrics only)
Grace first contrived the way
To save rebellious man;
And all the steps that grace display
Which drew the wondrous plan.
John Newton (1772), “Amazing Grace” (lyrics only)
Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.
Bono (2000), “Grace” (lyrics only)
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things.
Our sing-along-song today is the always appropriate "Jesus Loves Me," the Veggie Tales version, suggested by Justine and Logan.
Let's pray: “Father, we confess we are sinners. We prove each day that apart from grace we are guilty sinners. We are sorry for our sin and ask for you to forgive us. Thank you for your grace which meets us daily at our point of need. Thank you for your assured forgiveness.”
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Go with this blessing:
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
PS – My Online office hours on Wednesday are 11am-noon and 1-2pm Drop in if you'd like to chat, or just say hi!
PSS – Ladies, remember that the Coffee Break Bible Study continues to meet on Wednesdays and is enjoying great fellowship together! Speak to Jessie if you are interested in joining.