Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
We are expecting the baby to come at any time. Everything is packed and ready – except a few things – so that I will just have to grab our bags, get in the car, and drive to the hospital. We were at an extra check and ultrasound last week and everything looked good. The boy has fully grown, his heart is beating, he’s in position, it’s time to get out. Please pray.
Last month was busy, with the regular translations of articles and subtitles, managing the home page of Evangeliecentrerat, and sermon preparation. Then we had the joy of having J.T. from HeartCry visiting, and I joined him and Kyle McCartan on a road trip through Finland to visit some of the congregations and believers that we are in touch with. It was a time of great fellowship and interesting conversations.
Over the past month, I published a number of articles on the Atonement. One of them was John MacArthur’s, “Sin Didn’t Kill Jesus, God Did.” The doctrine of Penal Substitutionary Atonement is an essential doctrine at the heart of the Gospel itself, and sadly, many who name themselves Christian, object to the notion of God punishing His Son Jesus Christ instead of us. A wrathful and righteous God who punishes is not the kind of God many want to live with. The doctrine of “ransom to Satan” or other unbiblical explanations that tickle people’s ears are more popular. But the Bible itself does clearly explain what happened on the cross and why Jesus died. As MacArthur points out in the article, “the reality of Christ’s vicarious, substitutionary death on our behalf is the heart of the gospel according to God—the central theme of Isaiah 53.” Verse 4 says that Jesus was “Smitten of God… and pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities” (v. 5); ”the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (v. 6), and “the Lord was pleased To crush Him” (v. 10). There is no ambiguity regarding the wondrous and Biblical truth that Jesus died for our sins.
On Sunday the 14thI was at Grace Baptist Church, Tampere. The pastor, Miska, was out of town, so I got the privilege, not only to preach but also to lead the whole worship meeting. I had been hoping and looking forward to visiting them. The congregation consists of Finnish-speaking Finns and English-speaking people so their meetings are held in English. Most of them were familiar faces whom I’ve met before at our conference. Some of them also travel a long distance each Sunday because they have no local church. It was a great joy to be with them, to worship God, pray, sing, share the Word, and have fellowship with them afterward.
In Tampere, I preached from Daniel 3 – Obeying God rather than man in an idolatrous generation. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego obeyed God rather than man, even under peer-pressure when everyone else bowed down to the idol statue. Times have not changed, as there is still a pressure to follow the culture and its idolatry.
Recently, was the election day in Finland. We were in town that weekend, and the main square was full of small cabins where the different parties and candidates stood with their banners, handing out pamphlets, and preaching their gospel. They all have their different gospels and political ideology that they believe will save the country from whatever problem they feel it needs salvation from. The most popular nowadays is the one where the world will end in a few years because of climate change, so we need to raise the taxes on carbon dioxide emissions to save the world. It looks very much like a religion with its own works-righteousness, indulgence system, prophets, priests, and everything.
The great cause of all problems, however, which we need salvation from, is sin and God’s judgment. Humanity has disobeyed God. The only One who has truly obeyed God and can save us, is Jesus Christ – who yielded up His own body as a sacrifice in our place. He was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the furnace, and He is with His Church today. Nothing can do us any real harm. Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:31-39). Let us, therefore, by the mercies of God, always have the same devotion as these three men, to yield up our bodies as a living sacrifice to our God.