Paul – God’s Grace Is Sufficient

Let’s face it. Life can be very rough at times.Ê

It is only natural to ask good questions like:

How do I face these dark hours of life?

How do I face my own death?

Paul, the last member of my cabinet, gives us the answer to the first of these questions when he said, “God’s grace is sufficient, for my power is

made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9). To that you may reply, This is too easy an answer. Is it? Let’s see.

Kenneth Chafon, one of America’s great preachers, writes, “God doesn’t build a wall around us to isolate us from the risk of harm, but He does surround us with grace which enables us to transform anything that happens to us.” Paul would have said Amen to that statement for he had a “thorn in the flesh.” He had given a lot of thought as to why he had

this thorn. He concluded God was using it to keep him from being too elated. After all, Paul had experienced some marvelous times with the

Lord. No one had talked to the Lord as Paul did at the time of his conversion. God was directing him in a very specific way. There was a real temptation for Paul to become proud. This thorn would remind him that he was still a human being suffering as did the rest of humankind.

Paul also knew this thorn in the flesh had come not from God, but from Satan to bother him in his work. Satan was tormenting Paul and trying to

create doubt about the healing power of God. With all of these thoughts running around in his head, Paul asked the Lord to remove this affliction.

But the answer was, “No, Paul, my grace will be sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I wonder if he didn’t swallow hard receiving God’s answer. However, time and grace gave Paul the power to say, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities, for when I am weak, then I am strong.

From that day to this, Paul has been teaching Christians that the hard knocks of life are too heavy for us to bear, but God’s grace is sufficient.

He will strengthen the believer and see us through whatever comes our way. Paul had seen God make good on this promise, and his witness was a great demonstration of God’s power in people’s lives.

Let’s see if we can make real this text by first showing how we live with our thorns.

My wife and I were eating in one of our favorite restaurants. The atmosphere was relaxing, the food was good, and our waitress that evening was especially charming. She had a great personality. I assumed she was a student working her way through college. I finally

began to ask her a few questions. In our discussion I learned she had recently graduated from college and would be taking a job in the mall. But right now she just wanted a less responsible job and was relaxing for a few months. The waitress also told us she had moved into a house and was having fun fixing it up just the way she wanted it to be. Soon she

told us that her boyfriend had moved in with her, and that made it extra nice.

In our visit, I learned she attended church regularly. She had been in a confirmation class, and memorized many Bible passages and parts of Luther’s catechism. This led to my pointed question, “Doesn’t it bother you to live with a person and not be married?” She replied, “No more than to break any of the other commandments.” It was as if her answer

had been rehearsed. She used the logic, Break one and you break them all. I had touched a soft spot and she reacted negatively.

Since she still wanted to talk about this subject, I told her that one sin did not justify another, and through all of this she could be hurt. This

young man with whom she was living had no commitment to her. He could walk out anytime he chose to do so. Typical of many, the young

lady replied, “No, not this fellow. He is genuine.”

As I was paying our bill, and because of her openness, I left her an extra tip. She still continued the discussion. “You know,” she said, “life is different today than when you were my age. About 60% of my friends live together before they are married. This behavior is accepted. My mom would not have done what I am doing, but my father was ‘naughty’

when he was young.” With that closing remark, she went on to the next customer after thanking me for talking with her.

Driving home, my wife and I concluded this woman is not very happy with her behavior. She knows it is wrong. Peers can tell her it is

permissible, but her training in God’s Word says such behavior is sin. However, she feels trapped. She has those sexual drives that are being

satisfied. There is security in having a man around. How did I get into this mess, and how do I get out of it? are bothering questions. She has a thorn in the flesh.

The Bible would counsel her to leave it with God. Accept His offer when He says, You don’t have the strength to break off the relationship, but I

will empower you to tell the young man that we either get married or he moves out.

Before we leave this illustration, I want to say that cohabiting is not just a sin of young people. Older people are also guilty, and then they justify

their behavior by saying they are lonesome, need a partner, and marriage will mess up their pension plan. Let me ask. Do you live contrary to

God’s Word just to enjoy a few extra dollars? Do grandparents teach their grandchildren by their example?

God’s grace is sufficient to deal with our thorns in the flesh. It also comforts us in facing our own death. Listen to these words, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” Let’s talk about our own death.

We know that, through faith in Christ, God has promised us a heavenly home. However, leaving loved ones behind is difficult. A mother who

was dying and leaving young daughters behind told me, “I don’t want to die. I know that I can raise those two girls better than anyone else in the world. They are mine.” She was right! When our children are raised, we grandparents enjoy the grandchildren. My wife and I are spending the

winter in Iowa with snow a foot deep and temperatures below zero to watch our grandson play basketball on the high school team. We don’t want to die. A friend of mine who is 80, has suffered a stroke and doesn’t want to die. He preaches each Sunday in a small church and is

excited about the challenge. Most of us hang onto life as long as we can. It’s the natural thing to do.

Christians know we are going to heaven, but for some there is a bit of nervousness in going. There are so many unanswered questions about

life on the other side. Will we know each other? What will it be like to live in a perfect state? The list of questions is endless. One 90- year-

old woman says, “I’ll be all right once I get going to heaven. It’s just waiting around that makes me a little edgy. It’s kind of like going on a

long trip. It’s hard to sleep the night before you leave.” God has promised us everlasting life. It’s a free gift by grace through faith in

Christ Jesus. This is our peace. We do not depend on good deeds to earn our salvation. Listen again, “For by grace you have been saved

through faith — and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God — not because of works, lest any man should boast.

Eight weeks ago we started this series of sermons. We have been building a Spiritual Cabinet, a Board of Directors to help us with our daily walk. Here are the names of my cabinet and what they tell me many times each day:

Abraham – Trust Him

Samuel – Listen to Him

Joseph – Forgive

Job – Be Patient

Moses – The Authority

Rahab – Availability

Mary and Martha – Differences

Paul – Grace

Who is on your list?Ê

Listen to your directors.ÊThey are God’s servants giving you spiritual help.Ê

Amen.

Mary and Martha – Allow for Different Personalities

Parents with several children often tell us that no two are alike. Academically some are highly gifted, while others are average. Socially, some love a party and are on the go all the time, and others are content to live a quiet life with two or three friends. Physically, some are strong and never sick, while others are fragile. Strange, isn’t it, that these children come from the same parents, are raised in the same environment, and yet are so different.

Parents do not always allow for differences in temperament among their children. A mother who is trying to motivate her son to do his homework says, “Bob, why don’t you study hard like Mary does?”

Bob replies, “Because I am Bob and not Mary. Why is Mary always sick? I never miss school.”

Teachers are also guilty of not allowing for individuality. Sue is the third child in the Jones family to have Mrs. Brown for her teacher. On the opening day of school, Mrs. Brown says, “Sue, I am looking forward to a delightful year with you. I enjoyed your brother and sister so much. They are so talented and outgoing, and I am sure you are just like them!” This is a devastating remark for Sue. She is not as talented, and she does not care to be highly involved in extracurricular activities.

St. Luke tells us about two sisters from the same family who were opposites. They demonstrated a clash of temperaments. William Barclay, the Biblical expositor, points out that we have never allowed for the place of temperaments in Christianity. I find this to be so true. Therefore, I have put these two sisters on my Board of Directors to remind me that God has a place for all of us. We do not have to be alike. Let’s look at these sisters.

The two sisters, Mary and Martha, lived in Bethany. Jesus loved to visit their home. It was one of His favorite places to relax. So, on this day, when passing through Bethany, He stopped to see the sisters. Martha wanted to show her love for Jesus by feeding Him. I wonder if she did not want to invite in the whole neighborhood for a big party. This is precisely what Jesus did not want to have happen. All he wanted was peace and quiet. His soul was burdened. Soon He would be crucified. The hatred toward Him was mounting.

Mary sensed His need and sat at His feet to listen to Him. This irritated Martha until finally she exploded. Martha wanted Mary to be just like herself. “Jesus, tell my sister to come out in the kitchen and help me.”

Jesus replied, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Did Jesus love Martha? Of course He did. Was Mary more spiritual than her sister? No. They were two different temperaments who showed their love for Him in different ways. Jesus was teaching Martha that, on this occasion, Mary was serving Him better.

But now, let’s take another setting where Jesus might have used Martha to lead her sister. Between the resurrection and ascension, Jesus appeared to the disciples and spoke to them about the Kingdom of God. Mary and Martha could have been in that group of one hundred twenty disciples who were with Jesus during those forty days.

On that final day, just before He ascended into heaven, Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations . . .” He did not say, Sit down, I want to give you one final lesson in building the Kingdom. Those days were over. Now they were to go. It was time to get out of their chairs and act. This could have been music to Martha’s ears.

Seeing this, Jesus could have told Mary that it was time to move on and tell others about Him. There was a time to sit at his feet, but now the day had come to stand up and walk. “Follow your sister Martha. She will help you.”

With our different gifts and personalities, we serve God and one another in the building of God’s kingdom. We must allow for different kinds of Christian expressions. We come from different backgrounds, and our experiences with Christ are different.

Perhaps you cannot remember a day when you did not trust Christ as your Savior and Lord. You were baptized and raised in a Christian home. Your family had devotions, and you listened to your parents pray. As you grew, they invited you to pray.

Your friend did not come from that type of home. Her father and mother belonged to the same congregation as you did. She was baptized as a child like you, but her parents were not very faithful in seeing that she was introduced to Jesus.

In high school she attended a youth meeting where suddenly Jesus became very real to her for the first time. It seemed like her whole life was changed. She saw her sins and experienced what it meant to have them forgiven. This friend knew what it was to live without a personal relationship with Jesus and what it was to sense His loving presence with her all the time. For her there was a before and after Christ.

This spiritual awakening stirred some emotions, and she became vocal in telling others about what Christ had done for her. At times she was critical of you and others who have walked with Christ from day one and wondered why you had not told her about His wonderful love. There were times when she talked about her new experience with Jesus with such emotion that you wondered if she was becoming fanatical. You were two individual personalities who had different insights into what it is to walk with Christ in a personal way. You are both Christians, but your Christian expression is different. God has a place for both of you.

Let me tell you about Al. He was loved by everyone at the seminary, but there were times when it was evident that he did not enjoy being there. One day he was gone. Al had enrolled at the university in a masters of business program. After completing his formal education, he held prestigious positions in the business world, but Al still had a longing to serve Christ directly through the church. When the opportunity came, he went to work for the church in a very responsible position that required a great deal of business expertise.

Many years later, I visited with a retired professor from the seminary and inquired what happened that led Al to leave the seminary. Then he told me the story.

Al had promised his father that he would become a pastor. He knew this was not his calling, but he could not go back on his promise. Finally, Al shared it with one of the seminary professors, who, in turn, brought it to the faculty. Representatives of the faculty met with Al and released him from the promise he had made to his father. The burden was lifted, and Al became a dynamic servant of Christ’s Church. He could stand in the pulpit and speak fluently of his Christian faith, and he could be God’s servant in the boardroom when important decisions had to be made regarding the financial matters of the church.

Some might have criticized Al for what he did, but Mary and Martha remind us to allow for different personalities and talents. God can use them all.

Let me tell you about my relationship with Carl. He is the son of missionary parents. Carl has a brilliant mind. He was educated in a school of the church. After graduating from seminary, Carl went on to graduate school. He studied abroad and received his doctorate from Harvard University. Carl’s mind was so far in front of most of us serving congregations that we must have irritated him, because he certainly made some of us angry with him. He could be critical and sharp-tongued. When he made some outlandish statements pertaining to the faith, we would wonder if he was a Christian. Sometimes we raised the question, How can a person like this teach in the seminary? While he irritated me, I read some of his books, and I would drive miles to hear him lecture.

One day I was called to the hospital to minister to Carl’s mother-in-law, who was dying. Now what did I do, a simple parish pastor called to speak some final words of comfort to her and her family in the presence of this brilliant theologian? I read John 3:16 and shared with the family the marvelous love of God. “Christ is all we have, and He is all we need at a time like this,” I said.

We left her in God’s hands and prayed it would not be long before the Savior would take her to the heavenly home. After the devotion, Carl grabbed my hand and thanked me. Then he said words to this effect: One more thing we have; that is the Church and our oneness in Christ. He is here with us.

Suddenly I saw a different Carl. Not the brilliant theologian with his impatient spirit and caustic remarks, but a man holding on to the Gospel with a child-like faith. How careful we must be in our criticisms. God has so many children with different personalities and gifts.

I need the sisters, Mary and Martha, on my spiritual cabinet. When I become critical of others who might not be what I believe they should be in their Christian witness, the sisters say to me, See how different we are. Jesus has a place for all of us in His kingdom.

Rahab – Make Yourself Available

It is often said that you can do anything you set your mind to do. While this thought is inspirational, it is not true. I could have taken voice lessons all of my life and never been asked to sing in a prestigious choir. I could have practiced baseball ten hours each day and never been asked to play in the big leagues.

Yet we can do many things if we make ourselves available. The difference between people who live exciting lives and those who are content with the daily routine is that one accepts new opportunities that are available and the other does not. Marlene is a person who makes herself available to serve God and people when there is an opportunity. She was the housekeeper at our church. She could have been a custodian who only swept floors, polished furniture, and washed windows (This is honorable work which is extremely important. It should always be appreciated and held in high regard. It is reported that Martin Luther once said of the person cleaning the church, “She sweeps and I preach to the glory of God.”)

However, while Marlene kept the building sparkling clean, she also recognized a great opportunity before her beyond her custodial work. Our church has a large building and so university students are hired to assist with the cleaning. At times she had a dozen young men and women working for her. While working with the students, she discovered that some of them needed spiritual help for they had never been introduced to Jesus Christ. Life on the campus, both in and out of the classroom, held a real temptation for these young people to walk further and further away from the Lord. So Marlene, who was vocal about her faith, used this opportunity to share Christ with these people. She invited them to her home for dinner and built a strong relationship with these workers. Now Marlene had not only have a custodial responsibility, but also a ministry that made her work exciting. She made herself available to God to touch the lives of those with whom she worked.

At Marlene’s retirement party, her workers had the opportunity to express their appreciation. One by one, they told how God used Marlene to bring them closer to the Lord. After the party, she wondered if she was doing the right thing by retiring. Would she ever have opportunities like that again?

Now Marlene and her husband spend the winter months in Florida. She has again made herself available. They are in Bible studies with others in their park, and they are presented with new opportunities to share Christ, this time with older people who need the Gospel as much as the university students did. What could have been both a boring and an unexciting retirement is now filled with excitement because she made herself available to serve the Lord in whatever way he had in mind for her.

Christians need to be reminded that, if they are available, God has a mission for them. That’s why I have chosen Rahab to be member of my Board of Directors to order to assist me in my spiritual growth.

Who is Rahab? She was a prostitute living in Jericho who was converted. Her name appears in the genealogy of Jesus recorded Matthew 1. Moses had led the Israelites to the Promised Land, and he could see the land of Canaan from the top of Mt. Nebo. However, it was not Moses but Joshua who led the people into their homeland. Under the Joshua’s leadership, the people of Israel waited while two spies went into Jericho to see how the army and people should proceed in capturing the city. Arriving in Jericho, the spies went to Rahab’s home. This information reached the King of Jericho, and he sent a message to her Ð “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land” (2:3).

Rahab admitted that the two men had come to her house. However, she also told the king’s representatives that she did not know where they had come from, so when it was time to close the city gate, they left. (She had actually taken the spies up on the roof and hidden them under stalks of flax.) Now it was Rahab’s opportunity to see if she could work out a deal with the spies.

We read in the Bible, “Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, ‘I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death” (Joshua 2:8-13).

The spies assured Rahab that she and her family would be spared. With this promise, she let them down by a rope through the window, because the house she lived in was part of the city wall. Soon the Israelites invaded Jericho. God instructed Joshua to march around the city seven times, and when they did so the walls collapsed. The people perished, but Rahab and her family were spared. From that day on, she and her family were part of Israel. Rahab herself available, and God used her at a very crucial time in Israel’s history.

This story tells us that it does not matter what our past has been, He will use us for the glory of His Kingdom, and we will have joy in our hearts. (Rahab’s past was not good, but she reveals to us that, if we will turn to the Lord and make ourselves available, He will use us for the glory of His Kingdom, and there will be joy in our hearts.

God has a place for all of us. Rahab was not like Moses who led the people out of Egypt. She was not like Joshua who lead the people into the Promised land. She was a prostitute who, even after her life was changed, could not shed the title. Still, God had a place for her in His Kingdom.

The good news is God has a place in His Kingdom for all who confess Christ as Savior and Lord. I know this is true from personal experience. As a young man, I was led into a personal relationship with the Lord. In one of my devotional times, God spoke to me through these words, “I am the vine and you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Empowered by the Holy Spirit, I made myself available to God. Where would He use me? I loved school, but I was by no means the number one student in the class. After graduating from high school and seminary, I was ordained and years served a church in Atlantic, Iowa for five years. The community was alive and the people in the congregation were ready to move forward in bringing the Gospel to our city.

Our teachers had told us of three basic tasks in the parish ministry: Preach the Word, teach the Word (including confirmation class), and visit the people. I did just that. Each Sunday, to the best of my ability, I presented Christ as the only Savior of the world. I sought to bathe people in the Gospel. I taught the confirmation classes for a couple of hours each week bringing the basic lesson that, in God’s eyes, they are precious and important, not because of what they would accomplish, but because of who they are – created in God’s image and redeemed by Jesus Christ. My goal was to make twenty calls each week, either in the homes of the congregation or those who were interested in learning more about the Christian faith.

The experience was unbelievable. When we left the congregation, there were 650 members, twice as many as five years before. God was at work. I learned that the more I made myself available to God, the more He would use me.

One of my classmates had a different experience. He was sent to a rural community with a declining population. They were the same kinds of people he had grown up with in rural America. He understood the ups and downs of farming, how dependent the farmer was on the weather, and the price of grain and livestock. He too preached, taught, and visited the people, and was equally excited as I to see God at work among the members of his congregation. However, his congregation did not grow.

After five years I was led to another, larger community with about 100,000 people. The ministry was no different. Preach Ð teach – visit. Soon the power of God, working through His Word, led an elderly member to give us 30 acres of the most valuable land in the city. The congregation built a new church building on that land, and it joined with other churches to build a home for the aged. Forty-three years of ministry later, I could stand in the pulpit on a Sunday morning and preach to a congregation of 2,000 people. God was at work.

Long ago in Jericho, God entered the life of Rahab who was going nowhere. Although she was a prostitute, God changed her heart and made her His servant. Hundreds of years later, He entered the life of a very ordinary person with average talent and used him to tell the story of Christ and the way of salvation to thousands of people. I know that, if we will make ourselves available, God will use us and life will be so exciting we will not want to leave it, even to go to heaven.

Thank you, Rahab, unknown among the great names of the Bible, for reminding us of this great truth Ð that God will use us if we make ourselves available.

Moses – God’s Word Is Our Authority

Good help is always hard to find. That is why Pharaoh was not willing to let the Israelites leave Egypt. They were hard working people. Pharaoh was going to keep this people right there in Egypt as his slaves, but God had other plans for Israelites. They were to have their own land, and a young man named Moses was God’s appointed leader to bring His people out of Egypt.

God had miraculously saved Moses as an infant from the evil hand of Pharaoh. Now he was grown, and God said to Moses while tending his father-in-law’s sheep, “I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have come down to rescue them from the hands of Egyptians. So now I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

Moses had plenty of excuses for not taking this responsible job. He replied, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt. I have never been eloquent. I am slow of speech and tongue. Please send someone else to do it.”

God was irritated at Moses’ response. In fact, the Bible tells us that God was angry. He replied to Moses, “You brother Aaron can speak well. Let him be your spokesman. I will help both of you speak and teach both of you what to do.”

Reluctantly, Moses and Aaron accepted the call and were on their way to deliver God’s message to Pharaoh. Standing before the King, these men made God’s message clear, “Let my people go!”

Hearing this demand, Pharaoh replied, “Who is the Lord that I should obey Him?”

So, over the next few months, God showed Pharaoh who was in charge of Israel’s future. Moses was now experiencing the almighty power of God and man’s resistence to it. God sent ten plagues on the Egyptians. Here are four examples: The water of the Nile turned into blood. There was no water for the people to drink. Frogs infested the land. The Egyptians’ livestock died while the Israelites’ livestock was healthy. Pharaoh did not give in to God’s demand until the Almighty send the angel of death to kill the first-born in every Egyptian’s home. This got Pharaoh’s attention, and he commanded Moses to take his people and leave Egypt immediately.

But after they had gone, Pharaoh had second thoughts and sent his army to bring those Israelites back to Egypt. Israel was on the march when they sighted the Egyptian army in pursuit of them. Before the Israelites was the Red Sea. What were they to do? They panicked, but Moses quieted them with the assurance that God would protect His people. When they arrived at the Red Sea, Moses, led by God, lifted his arm, the sea parted, and God’s people walked to the other side on dry land. When the Egyptian army was at the center of the sea, Moses stretched out his arms, and the waters unfolded, drowning the Egyptian army.

Such accounts are difficult for us to understand. Were these Egyptians not precious in God’s sight? Had they not also been created in God’s image? How could God have allowed such a thing to happen? These are questions which will only be answered in heaven. But this we know, Moses got the message. You don’t fool around with God. His is the voice of authority. The God of mercy, grace, and love is also the God of righteousness, and His voice is authoritative.

On the other side of the Red Sea, Moses faced more difficult days. Living conditions in the wilderness were often difficult and Israel let their leader know how they felt. “Why did you bring us out here to die?” was their daily complaint. All of this compelled Moses to ask God, “What am I to do with these people? They are ready to stone me.”

God heard Moses’ prayers and provided for their needs, but He demanded obedience, and because of their rebellion, they would live in the wilderness for 40 years until all the people 38 years and older had died. Of this generation, not even Moses would live in the Promised Land.

In the midst of their disobedience, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments to let the people know specifically how He wanted them to live. These commandments were not then, or are they today, just suggestions. They were laws Ñ God’s Law for all people at all times.

They are absolutes, not negotiable, and cannot be adjusted to the culture of the day.

In every age people have questioned the authority of the commandments for their personal lives. Like Pharaoh, they have asked, Who is this god that He should control my life? A movie star, who has been married many times, appeared on the Larry King show one evening, and by her flippant attitude let the television audience know that the sixth commandment, given to protect marriage, did not apply to her.

But this is not just the attitude of Hollywood’s celebrities. The same attitude is found in all of us. How many times during the day do we not set aside these commandments to walk our own way?

A difference that I see in my little world is the general public’s attitude towards God’s Law. Many of our neighbors did not attend church when I was a kid. I imagine you would classify them as unbelievers, but if they were questioned about their lifestyle, they would not defend it as being right. “I know I should not paint my house on Sunday, but I want to get it done before it rains,” Bill told my father. He knew there was a commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” It should be obeyed. He did not question its validity, even though it did not control his life. In our day, the commandment does not even determine what is right and wrong, say nothing about controlling our behavior.

Rather, we have moved to what is known as a “situation ethic.” Right or wrong is determined by the situation interpreted in love. We have moved away from the absolutes Ñ our behavior is relative. Now we ask the question, Who says it is wrong? It may be wrong for you, but not for me. Who are you to force your beliefs on me? This is a free country. Don’t you dare to hang the Ten Commandments in a public building. These rules are not for all of us. Truth is relative.

It is in this environment that I need Moses to tap me on the shoulder and say, Remember God’s Law. He is the authority. You know what is right and wrong. Don’t try to rationalize your behavior.

But we can’t keep these commandments. We are helpless sinners. What will God do to us? We ask.

When God’s Law has brought us to this confession, it has done its work. St. Paul tells us, “So the Law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). In our helpless condition we come to the cross of Christ. There we confess our sins and place our faith in Jesus who has died to take away our sins. Through faith in Him we are forgiven and restored into fellowship with God. Then St. Paul continues, “Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the Law” (Galatians 3:25). We have become new people and live out of love for Christ who has made us His forever. That’s why Jesus could say, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31, 32). The authoritative voice of the Gospel brings us out of bondage, and the authoritative voice of God’s Law always reminds us how much we need our Savior.

The robber on the cross who had stolen and the woman who was caught in the act of adultery had heard the voice of God, “Thou shall not steal . . . commit adultery.” There were God’s Words of authority. Likewise, the Gospel was God’s voice of authority that assured them that, in Christ, their sins were forgiven, and they were restored into fellowship with God.

Let’s rejoice in the great truth that, not only His Law, but also His forgiving Gospel, is truth that will stand the test of time.

Let that person, institution, or nation think they can disregard God’s Word, be it the Law or Gospel, and their future is bleak. That’s why it is important to leave Moses on the Board of Directors. He will remind us from his personal experience that God’s Word must be our final authority in all matters of faith and life. He will show us how much we need to trust our Savior.