Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Gospel

Really enjoyed the Gospel today which was preached by my dear, childhood friend Gary C. He spoke simply about the Lord on the cross between the two malefactors, in Luke 23, v. 39-43. A few things Gary said really affected me. One was how, in the Darby translation, verse 42, the thief says, "And he said to Jesus, Remember me, [Lord,] when thou comest in thy kingdom." Gary pointed out that tho' the thief had never known the Lord Jesus before then, in the short time he DID know Him, he acknowledged Jesus as his Lord. Then Gary went on to say how Jesus' reply was, "Verily I say to thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." v. 43 and pointed out how the scripture says, not tomorrow, but "TODAY shalt thou be with me in paradise". He said our hope in Christ Jesus begins today, not in a future time. We don't have to wait to know our Lord Jesus in a living and intimate way. This relationship is meant for the present time. He also pointed out the malefactor didn't have to wait to be baptized or to do any thing else to make himself ready (or worthy) of redemption; he would be in the Lord's presence that DAY.

Some other thing's Gary spoke of were, first, Jesus, while hanging on the cross, was horribly brutalized; He would have hardly looked human. Scripture speaks of His face being "marred more than any man". Yet there was something in HIm which drew the good thief to HIm. It was just a really moving word picture for me to think about; the love of God shining out so brightly in a broken Man, others were forced to acknowledge Him as Lord. Gary also pointed out that Jesus, crucified, was reaching out the same distance to each thief (one on either side of Him), yet, again, only one turned to Him and knew Him as Lord; He's reaching out in the same way today.

Finally, Gary also spoke of the scripture where the Lord Jesus says, "My sheep know my voice." (I wasn't the only visitor at the Gospel, we also had a Mexican immigrant by the name of Jesus who was visiting for the first time, apparently.) Gary mentioned how God is not limited and our Lord Jesus didn't speak English (G. mentioned, as an aside, what a shock this was to him when he first found out about it), yet His people of all languages recognize His voice and, by the Holy Spirit, they understand His will/instruction. He compared this to knowing a friend's voice on the phone, how through relationship and nearness came sensitivity to the Other's voice, in all it's nuances. Even tho' this is a scripture passage I've always known I was touched again by it, today.

Anyway, it was a joy to hear the Gospel preached; to hear the true Hope of our salvation. I've missed hearing this because, sorrowfully, most churches avoid it, preferring a "Friendship Gospel" approach. I felt as tho' I'd come home.

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