Each year I try to dig deeper into the mystery of Easter. And this Easter is no exception. Easter is by far the Greatest Story Ever Told. We really do need to dig as deep as we can – to “sound the depths of love divine”, as the hymn writer puts it. And no matter how shallow or deep we go, we will discover joy, unspeakable and glorious!
Martin Luther preached: “Just as a bridegroom possesses all that is his bride’s and she all that is his – for the two have all things in common because they are one flesh – so Christ and the church are one in spirit.” In this joyful exchange, our sin with its consequent death and damnation becomes Christ’s, while Christ’s righteousness becomes ours (1 Cor. 1:30).
Righteousness is not something we generate from within ourselves and then offer to God. Righteousness is something that God gives to us – and this is exactly why we may trust in and grow to love God.
Our faith begins with the Holy Spirit graciously coming to us. The Spirit’s work is to bring the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ to bear on our own biographies and circumstances, beyond all limitations of time and space. The Spirit says to you, to me, to everybody: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8), and so the Father promises to forgive us all our sins, grant us Christ’s own righteousness, and raise us up to new life in the heavenly kingdom.
How do I know that I really have faith in the promise? Thankfully, the answer lies with God. For it is Christ who does the believing in and for me, much as Paul says: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Christ dwells in me, and so the Father judges me as righteous – not as a legal fiction but as a truth, because the Father has truly given me Christ’s own righteousness, and through the Spirit, I have received it. In a right understanding of justification, there is no competition between “the faith in Christ” and “the faith of Christ”. They are the same reality.
We have had 2 wonderful donations towards the prayer garden that will allow us to purchase the roofing and the 3 Crosses we hope to have put up before Easter this year. Thank you! Others have offered to help and I look forward to seeing the final result. Please see Shephard or Liz Tiyago if you want to help or you have offered and no one has come back to you yet.
Next Sunday is a special day. It marks the 44th Anniversary of Northside Community Church. So we hope to celebrate with our monthly Prayer Breakfast, combined church service, our Church AGM and then an all-church family fun day here under the trees. This time of fellowship is around a bring-and-share picnic lunch (braais will be available). There are facilities for children and young people. Please put aside the day and come and be part of the fellowship and celebration!
God bless, Pastor Gary