Let us pray: Dear Savior, just as the road to heaven in this life is narrow and fraught with peril, so is our daily pathway as Christians. We hear Your various words of truth, we read them in our Bibles, but our sinful flesh and the world at large employs many tactics to get us to turn away from You and give up on Christianity. Lord, today keep us from giving in to them! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE!
TEXT: John 6: 60-69
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
I’ve been your Pastor here for 32 years this Fall. During that time span Pinewood has taken in over 310 new members. Some were infants. Most were adults. Some came by transfer from sister churches. Others came in by adult instruction. So where are those 310+? Why aren’t they gracing the pews this morning? Well, many moved away. Others died. Still others dropped out of circulation. The first two categories we can all understand. But that third category bothers me and it should bother you. For they occupy the same classification that our text defines in these words: “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’…From this time on many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
In our lesson, the “hard teaching” was that Jesus claimed to be the eternal bread from heaven which feeds human souls and who is the only source of eternal life. In essence, they rejected grace alone. It didn’t feed their pride and they could not take credit for their blessings in life because to God alone be the glory. Thus they rejected Christ as the Son of God, the only Bestower of grace.
So, what “hard teachings” have corrupted many of our “lost souls”? Well, we don’t preach universalism, or the belief that “all roads lead to heaven.” We don’t have a rainbow flag standing in the front of our building—because homosexuality is a sin. We don’t promote and encourage our members to be “social justice” warriors. We don’t adopt or support the radical feminist agenda, either. No, we call sin, sin. We preach the 10 commandments. We especially proclaim Christ crucified and that forgiveness for sins comes only through faith in His atoning blood. We teach that baptism isn’t just a social custom or formal naming of a soul, but a loving impartation, or giving, of Godly forgiveness and faith. We teach that the Holy Supper is real heavenly soul food—Christ’s true body and blood—for the forgiveness of all sins. We confess that all Scripture is God-breathed and true. Thus Genesis is actual history as to our origins. We also confess the reality of personal evil and demons along with the hell where they reside. And we preach that repentance, or admitting our violations of God’s holy will, is the only thing that leads to us receiving His life-saving forgiveness for those sins through faith alone. And from what I know of some who walked away from Pinewood and Christ all of the above were reasons for it.
Obviously, Christ understood the many reasons for some of His disciples leaving Him. And how it must have broken His heart! But, the twelve who remained were also disconcerted. Just imagine the cross-current of emotions this upheaval caused among them? So, when Jesus asked them: “You do not want to leave too, do you?” they were struck to the core.
That same question hits us today. Because if we’re honest, we all must admit we’re tempted to cut and run when a particular truth of God hits our heart and convicts us of our personal frailties. Running away and hiding is a powerful temptation instead standing up and being counted! Or in modern terms, caving to political correctness often seems far easier than defending Godly truth. The former preserves your dignity before men. But the latter preserves your dignity before God…..Or as the Bible says: “We ought to obey God rather than men”—including your own personal sinful affinities.
St. Peter was never more filled with the Spirit when he gave the grace-filled answer to Jesus’ query. If you sincerely adopt it as your life’s motto, you will be too! “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God!”
The Holy One of God is the Messiah. He is God’s salvation in human form. He is the only Source of forgiveness and peace with God Almighty. He is the One Who gives us humans peace of soul. Of those who have walked away from our midst over the years, I pray that God has found another way to reach them. I pray for their soul’s salvation. I pray that they may come to their senses—their senses regenerated by God. But since they are not here today, and you are, I also pray for each of you! May Christ cause Peter’s great confession to be and remain yours forever! Amen