*FOLLOW: PAUSE*

Posted: February 23, 2015 in CORE

Pause.001STOP!  PAUSE!  WAIT!  
There are some suuuuuuper important things that Pastor Mike preached yesterday.  So, instead of continuing with our Matthew study, we took a quick *PAUSE* to discuss these theological terms that help us understand salvation more fully.  (We will likely remain *PAUSED* while Pastor continues his sermons called, “Back to Basics.”)  Today’s post is a reflection of the sermon and student discussion that followed.

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Last week we entered into the season of Lent.  This is a season that seems confusing.  We know some people give things up–others don’t eat meat–some wear ashes on the forehead–and others do none of these things.

So–for us Protestant Evangelicals–what is really going on during Lent?

The season of Lent is the 40 days (excluding Sundays) preceding Resurrection Sunday (Easter).  For Protestants and Evangelicals, Lent is a time of self-reflection.  As Believers we reflect on our need for a Savior, and anticipate His substitutionary atonement* that is coming soon.  A great article by The Gospel Coalition titled, “Why Bother with Lent?” describes the reflection during Lent in this way by saying,

Confident of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, we are free to probe the inner recesses of our hearts, unearthing sin’s pollution. God’s grace liberates us to explore our soul, facing its filth, rather than suppressing or succumbing to its contents. With David, we are free to pray,

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Ps. 139:23-24)

Searching us, God discovers nothing unknown to him (Ps 139:1-3), but discloses the secrets of our hearts, allowing us to know ourselves. Under his tender scrutiny, God exposes, not to shame, but to heal. Thus, turning inward, we are led upward to find consolation, hope, and transformation through Jesus Christ.

Since we are a part of Manchester United Methodist Church, we observe Lent as a means by which we turn from the distractions of our life in order to be realigned with Christ.  (For more on the United Methodist Church’s stance on Lent, visit umc.org.)

This leads us to Pastor’s message yesterday.  He taught us that in the Early Church, converts to Christ were taught for one year, and baptized on Resurrection Sunday; these converts took the 40 days prior to baptism to purify and ready themselves for their public confession of their conversion.  Then he taught us some theological concepts:

*Substitution: “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,” Matthew 20:28 (NIV)

Since we know that “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom 3:23), our fair consequence is Hell.  It is as though we have been kidnapped by sin and cannot pay the ransom ourself.  Someone must come and pay the price in order to set us free.  The word “substitution” is often used with the word “atonement,” which means satisfaction of the payment that was due.  “For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people,” Hebrews 2:17.

*Redemption: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace…And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory,” Ephesians 1:7, 13-14.

Redemption–or the act of being redeemed–means to be brought back; more specifically, it means to be bought back by a payment.  When we were enslaved by our sin we belonged to the Enemy and were headed to Hell.  However, God paid for us to become His children; He paid with the pure blood that Jesus shed on the cross, and proved that payment to be sufficient by the empty grave.  That payment allows us to be redeemed!

*Reconciliation: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation,” Colossians 1:21-22

When people are enemies, reconciliation is what brings them back into a peaceful relationship.  As we have already established, our sin kept us apart from God.  However, through Christ, we can be reconciled to God.  We go from being God’s enemy to being His son/daughter.

*Propitiation:  “Therefore, since we have been justified* through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand…” Romans 5:1-2a

This is the process of going from God’s enemy to being at peace with Him.  [Additional note: To be justified means to be seen as sinless.]  We become justified when we repent of our sin and ask Christ to cover us with His sinlessness.

These terms allowed the students of CORE Youth Ministry to continue working through our understanding of salvation–a subject that I never grow tired of teaching! (:

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This post was based on Pastor Mike’s sermon called, “Back to Basics,” preached at Manchester United Methodist Church on February 22, 2015.  The terms were set by Pastor; the content and biblical support was supplemented by Youth Director Kelsey, based on the student discussion that followed the sermon.

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