November 3, 2021

November 3, 2021

Dear Friends,
 
The word “condemn” is an interesting word.  The dictionary offers a couple of definitions.  It can mean to “express complete disapproval of, typically in public; censure.”  It can also mean “to sentence someone to a particular punishment, especially death.”  Or to “officially declare something or someone as unfit for use.”
 
After her accusers left, Jesus asked the woman caught in adultery in John 8 “woman, where are they?   Has no one condemned you?”  With her accusers gone, she rightly realizes there is only one left who can rightfully censure her for her sin.  But in an act of grace, Jesus declares “Neither do I condemn you.  Go, and from now on, sin no more.”
 
In writing to the church in Rome, the apostle Paul doesn’t need anyone to express their disapproval of him and his sin.  He is his own judge and jury.  “Wretched man that I am!” he declares.  “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  Verdict:  Guilty.  Sentence?  Condemned.
 
Except…
 
Because of Jesus’ death as his sin substitute, Paul can declare “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit, alive in Christ Jesus, has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).  Verdict overturned on appeal.
 
To be “in Christ Jesus” is to be free from the threat of condemnation.  Let that sink in for a minute.  Free. 
 
That doesn’t mean that other people, or the devil himself, the “accuser of the brethren” won’t bring fresh charges against you.  And it doesn’t mean the charges won’t be valid.  After all, sin is still a part of your daily life.  Each of us sins regularly, “in thought, word or deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.” 
 
But as Paul makes clear in Romans 8, the charges won’t stick, even though you’re guilty.  “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” he asks in Romans 8.  The answer?  It doesn’t matter who brings the charges.  “It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33).   
 
Paul then asks “Who is to condemn?” 
 
Like the woman caught in adultery, there is no one who has standing to bring judgment.  The only one who has the right to condemn is busy doing something else.  “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34).
 
Did you get that?  Again, take a minute with this idea.  The Lord Jesus, the only one qualified to declare you guilty and pronounce judgment instead declares that you belong to Him. Instead of condemning, He is interceding for you. 
 
This is why the hymn writer declares:
 
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great High Priest, whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me


The next time Satan – or anyone – tries to “express complete disapproval” or wants to “officially declare you as unfit for use,” remember that the only Person who really matters has already declared “no condemnation.”  He is interceding for you. 

extra hour of sleep!

Here is our annual reminder that you get an extra hour of sleep this weekend.  If you haven’t seen the official announcement, here it is.

christmas in the dominican republic

On Sunday we told you about our plans to provide Christmas gifts for students at Arbor Christian School in the Dominican Republic. 
Here’s how it works. 
 
1.  This Sunday, select one or more children’s names from the Christmas tree in the lobby of church.  Each ornament you select will have the name and age of the child you’re providing a gift for.
 
2.  Click here to donate $40 per child online, or bring a check with you to church that has “Christmas in the DR” in the memo line and put it in the giving box.
 
3.  Pick up a card on Sunday and write a note to the child(ren) you have selected.  Keep it simple.  The kids are learning English, and their teachers will help them with any hard to translate words. 
 
Here’s a sample note:
 
Dear (name),

I am praying that you and your family will have a happy Christmas as you celebrate the great good news that Jesus was born to save us. 
 
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” (Luke 2:11)
 
Return the completed card(s) to church by Sunday, November 21.
 
4.  Pray for the child(ren) whose name(s) you have selected. 
 
We’re excited to have this opportunity to support the work Joe and Dana Neff are doing with Teach Beyond and to reach out in love to these students this year at Christmas.
 
And if you have any questions about the project, contact Matt Gurney or Cathy Crowell. 

We looked last Sunday at the need for churches to be “always reforming.”  But the one thing that can never change is our devotion to God’s word.  This Sunday, we’ll look at what Peter tells us about the “prophetic word more fully confirmed” that God has given us to direct our steps and to guide our lives.

See you in church.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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