The Lord saw that the wickedness of mankind was great on the earth, and that all the thoughts and plans they formed in their hearts were only evil every day. (Genesis 6:5 – EHV)
“Do you really believe that?” Has anyone ever asked you that question when it comes to your faith and the Bible? I’m sure that you’ve been asked that question a number of times—about a number of different teachings! One of the teachings and beliefs that leads to questions from others is the teaching of original sin. “Do you really believe that we are nothing but sinners from the time we were conceived? Do you really believe that nothing good lives in us because we inherited a sinful nature from our parents, and that our sinful nature makes it impossible to obey God’s commands perfectly? Don’t you have any faith in humanity? Can’t you see all the good that people do every day—even those who are unbelievers? Don’t you think that there is at least a little bit of good inside of every one of us?”
You hear people say this all the time? What’s the problem with such thinking? First of all, it’s not Biblical—we’ll see what the Bible says about our natural condition in the paragraph below. But it also leaves the door open for thinking that we can save ourselves—or at least contribute to our salvation. If we are not completely spiritually dead by nature, then we can do enough good to please God and convince him to save us. Or—if there is a little spark in us—then we can make the initial steps toward God so that he would bring us to faith and save us, such as by inviting him into our hearts/making a decision for Christ/or accepting Jesus as our Savior. Do you see the problem—salvation then would depend on who we are and something that we do.
Simply put, this isn’t Biblical. Of course, our faith does not depend on our feelings or emotions. What we think or what we observe should have no bearing on what we believe! We believe what the Lord says in his Word, and what the Lord sees of us—and he sees as we truly are. In the passage above the Lord is describing the people before the flood. Their wickedness was great, and every plan and thought of their heart was nothing but evil. God may have cleansed the earth with the flood, but he didn’t remove sin—and so how God describes the world at the time of the flood can still be used to describe the world today. Of course the Bible has much else to say on this topic: Nothing good lives in us—we do not and we cannot do what is good by nature (Romans 7:18), We are hostile to God by nature (Romans 8:7), we are spiritually dead by nature (Ephesians 2:1), we cannot understand nor believe the Bible by nature (1 Corinthians 2:14), we are born as children of the devil (John 8:44), because we are sinners we fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We could go on and on…
And that’s exactly the reason why God sent his Son! He wasn’t conceived by two sinful parents, but by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary, and so he wasn’t born with a sinful nature and was able to keep the law perfectly for us. He came to live a perfect life for us and suffer and die on the cross to remove the curse of our sins. By his wounds we have been healed and by his resurrection from the dead we will dwell with him in heaven forever!
We don’t want to downplay sin or our sinful nature because if we would do so we would downplay Christ and all that he has done for us! When we see our sins and when we realize who we truly are and what we deserve, then God’s grace stands out even more. For when sin increases, God’s grace for us increases even more (Romans 5:20). So instead of denying our sin and sinful nature, instead of pretending to be better than we truly are; we confess our sins to God and beg for his mercy and forgiveness. And we know that he is truly merciful and gracious and forgives us in his Son, Jesus. That is what the season of lent is all about—it is a season of confession and forgiveness; a season in which we remember who we are and what we have done, and—most importantly—what the Lord has done to save us!
Pastor Andrew Frey
Bible Information Class
We are looking to start a new Bible Information Class (BIC), otherwise known as an Adult Instruction Class. We highly encourage our members to attend as a simple review of the Christian faith—or better yet, invite someone new and come with them! If you are interested in attending or know someone who may be, please speak to Pastor Frey.
On Sunday mornings, Pastor Frey is leading a study on the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther—three books, written at an interesting point in the history of God’s people—and yet three books we probably don’t know much about.
On Monday mornings and Tuesday evenings Pastor Gartner is leading a study on the distinction between law and gospel. Knowing the difference between these two main teachings of the Bible is of the up-most importance. And yet, knowing when and how to apply these two teachings is something that no one can completely master this side of heaven. This study will more assuredly be a great benefit for all who attend.
NOTE: We do have audio recordings and the Lesson Sheets of these Bible Classes. If you have been unable to attend and would like these sent to you, please email Pastor Frey or Pastor Gartner.
Ash Wednesday is just around the corner—on February 26th! We will once again be having our midweek Lenten service at 10:30am and 6:30pm. Light refreshments will be served before and after our morning service, while Lenten meals will be served starting at 5:30 before our evening service. Please sign-up on the sheets in the entryway if you are interested in attended the meal each week. Please also note that confirmation class during the Lenten season will be held from 5:00-6:00.
This year our theme is: “The Son of God Goes Forth to War.” When many people picture Jesus they see him as a Gentle Shepherd, a patient teacher, or on his heavenly throne in his full glory. This Lenten season we will be taking a look at Jesus’ role as a warrior. He is the one who was greatly opposed but ultimately won the victory over our greatest enemies.
Roller Skating at Skate City
Plan to join fellow members of St. John and their guests for an evening of roller skating/blading on Sunday, March 15th from 4:30-6:30 pm at Skate City in Kimberly. The cost is $6.00 per person including skates. To reserve the rink, a minimum of 60 people need to attend. Sign up today; a sheet is on the counter in the entryway.
Now that we have Evangelical Heritage Versions of the Bible in our pews and in our bulletins, we thought it would be a good idea to give you some updates on the EHV. It is now available for free on biblegateway.com or on the biblegateway app. If you use the Logos Bible software it is also available for purchase. The EHV also has an electronic study bible available for 20 dollars—it is for Windows 10 users only and can be found at the Microsoft app store. Finally, a reminder that we do have a number of hard copies of the EHV bible available for purchase. If you would like one or have any questions, please speak to Pastor Frey or Pastor Gartner.