If we say we have fellowship with him but still walk in darkness, we are lying and do not put the truth into practice. But if we walk in the light, just as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:6-9 – EHV)
Hand Sanitizer—what a great and awesome product! It may not be perfect (we know that washing your hands with soap and water is more effective), yet hand sanitizer promises to sanitize your hands as it kills any germs and viruses it comes into contact with. It can serve as an effective way to cleanse your hands when you can’t wash them.
Hand sanitizer reminds me of a number of passages. There is Jeremiah 33:8, 1 John 1 (which we’ll get to soon), and Psalm 51:7, remove my sin with hyssop, and I will be clean. And I cannot help but wonder: what is hyssop and how does it cleanse me from my sin? First of all, we aren’t really sure what plant is being identified as hyssop. But we do know that this plant was part of the Old Testament ceremonial law. A priest would use stalks of the hyssop plant as a sponge or sprinkler to apply cleansing blood or water to God’s people. See Exodus 12:22; Leviticus 14:6-7; and Numbers 19:18 for three examples. So, it wasn’t the hyssop in and of itself that cleansed from sin, rather, it was the fact that the hyssop plant was used for a ceremonial cleansing—and the promise that God had attached to such cleansing. And, of course, we know that the Old Testament ceremonial cleansing points us to and is fulfilled in Christ—see Hebrews 9:1-15 and Colossians 2:13-17.
Which brings me to the passage above that I actually want to talk about today (sorry for the lengthy excursion). First of all, notice that we all need to be cleansed. We are all dirty—not with dirt or grime, not that all of us have contacted some nasty virus; rather, we are all contaminated with sin. And there is nothing that we have in ourselves that removes this stain of sin, nothing that we can do to cleanse our souls. And this sin leads to death, not physical death—that would be bad enough; but eternal death! We can try to claim that we don’t have this stain; that we aren’t that bad of sinners—but God says such people are liars! Even now, as Christians, after seeing the light of Christ, we must admit that we often fall into the ways of darkness, just like the sinful world around us. Yes, we all need to be cleansed.
I was recently reading an article that warned people not to use certain types of hand sanitizer. Apparently, there was a company in Mexico that made hand sanitizer made from methanol (wood alcohol). The problem is that this can be toxic when absorbed through the skin. We often come up with solutions to our sin problem that are toxic to our souls. We think that we can do something to cleanse our own sins, we think that by doing certain things (and refraining from certain sins) that we purify ourselves. But as it turns out, not only is it impossible for us to cleanse our own sins, relying on our own works is toxic to our souls—making things worse.
Praise the Lord that it is his blood that we are cleansed! By the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, he has paid for all our sins. The blood of Christ has purified us—taken away the guilt of our sins, scrubbing our souls clean of what corrupts us! In the eyes of the Lord, we are now pure and holy—sinless just as he commands us! And notice that Jesus’ blood did not cleanse us from only some of our sins or only from part of the guilt of sin. It cleansed us from 100% of the guilt of 100% of our sins.
The Lord is faithful to his promises, unlike us. His promise to save us from our sins, his promise to send us a Savior, his promises to take us to live with him in heaven forever—are all fulfilled in Christ! We have a just God who doesn’t let sin go unpunished, so he punished his Son in our place so that we are fully forgiven! He cleanses us from our unrighteousness, making us perfect in his sight!
Hand Sanitizer is useful to cleanse your hands from any germ or virus you may encounter—even better is washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. I’m guessing most of us have increased our hand-washing and our hand-sanitizer use the last few months. We need something stronger in order to cleanse our souls from sin. In Christ, we have been given the holy, precious blood of God himself, who cleanses us from all of our sin! This, of course, is far more important that making sure our hands are clean. I pray then, that we make use of the gospel in devotions, worship, and the Lord’s Supper—and all the more as the Last Day approaches.
Pastor Andrew Frey
After taking a few weeks off, we are going to pick-up our online Bible study by looking at the book of Ecclesiastes. We’ll pre-record these online studies and send them out via a youtube link along with a study guide. We’ll send these studies to those who were on the list for the previous online classes. Please contact one of the pastors if you want to be included on the new list.
June Edition of the WELS Connection
Click below to watch June’s edition of the WELS Connection about WELS Christian Aid and Relief.
Returning to Public Worship:
How great and wonderful it was to see people in-person as we worshiped our Lord together this past two weeks! Together with the June Newsletter, you should have received a copy of our plan for returning to public worship. Please look over the document carefully. Please note that for the time being, since only one or two ushers will be needed per service, we will not be in need of Usher Teams. If you have any comments or concerns, please contact one of the Pastors or any of the council members. The document can also be accessed by clicking the link below. https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:b:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EaBy-IahwepIjjaHxkS5IbMBC7X1SDx1pug80s5jAzCihQ?e=fJjd64
In order to encourage and practice social distancing, we are trying to limit each Worship service to 75 people. To help with this, we added an extra service on Sunday morning. We are offering 7:30, 9:00 and 10:30 services on Sunday as well as 6:30 pm on Monday. We are also asking everyone to sign up each week for whatever Worship Service you plan on attending. Please note, that we are in need of volunteers to help sanitize the sanctuary between services. When you sign-up you’ll have an opportunity to mark whether or not you are willing to help out—it only takes about 10 minutes, so we pray that you will!
You can find the link to sign-up on the front page of our website at: www.stjohn-appleton.org.
You can also signup by going directly to this link (it will be a different link each week):
As we go forward, we will continue to live-stream our services and posting our worship folders online. We will be recording our Sunday 7:30 am service which means you can watch anytime after 7:30 am on Sunday morning. If you need any help accessing these resources, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
You can find our worship services at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCsQs-LDzlHE1NTjOaVaQ2A.
You can find a bulletin for each Worship Service so you can follow along here: https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EqetvOMWflhLsfsLRcDkxSgBL2cnYkpiuk8Klh7d-r_XQg?e=07dSma.
The WELS Missions office is partnering with the Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society (LWMS) to host an online event called Taste and See! This first-of-its-kind event will combine the very best of Taste of Missions and LWMS Convention to provide all WELS members an opportunity to be an important part of gospel outreach occurring in our synod.
Tune in LIVE to the following opportunities to be together and encourage one another. Join us on the WELS Missions or LWMS Facebook pages or Taste and See website at the following times:
Saturday, June 27, 11 a.m. CT: Opening worship service immediately followed by the LWMS Flag Presentation
Wednesday, July 1, 7 p.m. CT: Home Missions Q&A Panel
Wednesday, July 8, 7 p.m. CT: World Missions Q&A Panel
Saturday, July 11, 6 p.m. CT: Closing worship service featuring the commissioning of three world missionaries and one home missionary, immediately followed by a Q&A panel with newly commissioned missionaries
Free Digital Resources from NPH
Our Synods Publishing House, NPH, is offering many great digital resources for free for the time being—including June’s Forward in Christ and the latest edition of Meditations. Please click on the link below for more info.