Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Gospel Devotion: Two Old Words - 1 Thessalonians 5:9

1 Thessalonians 5:9   For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

For some people, the biblical words ‘wrath’ and ‘salvation’ have no meaning in their regular lives. They go about their daily routine, not giving a second thought to God, or of the Christian understanding that one day everything will come to an end. They probably think that Doomsday beliefs are for deluded fools and, as for a God who punishes people for their sins, that’s just a negative way that the outdated Church uses to control people with fear.

If I was going to dissuade folks from the need to believe in Christ, I think that I would tell people that what they do doesn't matter, nor will it ever count against them, and that life beyond death is given to everyone. I think that I would convince people that sin doesn't exist anymore and that God loves to indulge us. I would tell them that Christ’s blood had nothing to do with the forgiveness of sins and that His execution was just an historical accident – He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I would finally tell them that we are gods and all the God that we ever need to be, that humankind is the pinnacle of existence, as well as the greatest beings who will ever live.

If I told them all those things, then words like ‘wrath’ and ‘salvation’ would have no meaning, and I could add to that list words like ‘church,’ ‘prayer,’ ‘faith,’ and even ‘Christianity.’

But if I did that, then I would be a vile liar and a peddler of untruth. I would be guilty of leading people astray and away from the Gospel. I would be damaging their souls and wounding their beliefs. If I stayed in the church and preached those things, I would be a heretic. If I left the church and said those things, I would be apostate. However, for some people, those last two words, ‘heretic’ and ‘apostate’ have no meaning in their regular church lives….

Questions for personal reflection

What does God’s wrath mean to me? How do I interpret the word ‘salvation’?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, You never said that following You was ever going to be comfortable or easy, so keep us from trying to make our faith cozy and bland. Forgive us, Lord, for following our own ways instead of Yours. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to make a comment or ask a question about today’s devotion, please send him an email to traqair@aol.com.

Today’s image is one of John’s latest Celtic drawings. It’s called “Celtic Mandala” and features a Celtic Cross surrounded by many other Christian symbols. How many can you find? If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7416/12126875254_8e9f12c2a7_b.jpg

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