Monday, November 14, 2011

Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Death was in the air in my country this week. The nation awoke one morning to the news that two icons had died. One, a journalist, after a long and very public battle with cancer. The other, a sports administrator, sportsman, athletic coach, politician and confidante to two Prime Ministers was found unconscious and rushed to hospital but only to be pronounced dead. One, "Tino" Geddes was well known locally, while the death of the other triggered a call for a minute's silence by none other than male athlete of the year and superstar - Usain Bolt - at a gala event in Monaco attended by the King and watched by millions across the world. Such was the reach and fame of Howard Aris, the late President of the Jamaica Administrative Association, who guided the nation's athletes to their greatest ever performance in the last Olympic games in Beijing, and the two recent World Games in Berlin and in Daegu. And who, no doubt like many of us, was looking forward to even greater things in London next year. but that was not to be. Less dramatic, and certainly far less traumatic for the family than death was news of a more private nature, but equally troubling to my soul, of two young persons who suffered a stroke in recent times.

Death was in the air in my " conversation" with the Lord this week. Most notably, the Psalm appointed for this week, which I had read before, and which reading triggered a text message, but really as I read it again in preparation for church this morning, soul was troubled. For all who might have died and not accepted the love and forgiven of God in Christ.

" We are consumed by your anger
and terrified by your indignation.
You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.
The length of our days is seventy years --
or eighty, if we have the strength;
yet their span is but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

Who knows the power of your anger?
For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Relent , O Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy, and be glad all our days.
Psalm 90: 7-14. NIV

" For your wrath is a great as the fear that is due to you". One of the central messages, often lost in this age of moral relativity and a re-write of the nature of God, attempting to turn Him into a benevolent Creator who is only full of love and compassion, is the reality of of the Cross of Calvary on which Jesus died so horribly. As it is on account of the wrath of God, which "all who have sinned and fallen short of his glory ", why Jesus suffered and died. He took on to Himself....the doctrine of substitution...the sins of the whole world. So that we might not suffer the consequences of God's wrath. A doctrine further explained in an extended reading of the New Testament lesson appointed for today in my church.

" Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope........

Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, " peace and safety," destruction will come upon them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

But you my brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night
or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."
1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11 NIV

The inescapable reality then is that the wrath of God awaits all those who have not accepted the forgiveness offered by God in Christ on Calvary. Little wonder then, that the sanke...Are you washed, are you washed, are you washed in the blood of the Lamb. Are your garments spotless. are they white as snow, are you washed in the blood of the Lamb ... came into my mind this evening and let me to sing. I could not recall the entire song so like any modern person I googled it....
Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing pow’r?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you walking daily by the Savior’s side?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the Crucified?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
When the Bridegroom cometh will your robes be white?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Will your soul be ready for the mansions bright,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb;
There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,
Oh, be washed in the blood of the Lamb!
The point therefore, is that it does not matter whether you are a King or commoner. Of international acclaim or just of local iconic status. A man of power or a woman who lives in the backwater of Jesus once did. Someone who has influenced the lives of many for good, or someone who was a rascal all his days. A prostitute, or the choirmaster. Gay or straight. An Obama or a Rommney. A young bright Holness or a aging but experienced and passionate Portia Simpson-Miller. If you are not washed in the Blood of the Lamb, the wrath of God awaits you when you die, and even before that, for some. That is why the sharing of the gospel message is no ordinary thing to done in one's spare time. To be taught to children when all other exams have been successfully navigated. To be shared with a spouse or a friend, when they in the mood, or worse when we are in the mood. No! As people's lives are in eternal danger. People fall asleep, and die suddenly. Strokes and other warning signs come like a thief in the middle of the night. It is the supreme task that awaits every baptized share the gospel with urgency and with integrity. " Cleanse the thoughts of my heart O Lord, that I may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy a prayer we repeat, hopefully with understanding and belief, Sunday after Sunday in my church.
Make no mistake, God is indeed a loving God and full of compassion, as was exemplified in the gospel reading at church tonight ( John 8: 1-11) where Jesus confronted the accusers of a woman caught in adultery, and who were determined to stone her to death, with the now very famous words: " If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her".. And the narrative recalls that they all left, the older ones first. But though Jesus reassured the lady that he did not condemn her, he urged her " Go now and leave your life of sin". And that call to leave a life of sin , can only be fully realized among us when we accept Christ as Lord and Saviour and the only source of our righteousness.

Finally, to make the point...of our wretchedness before a holy God.... even more dramatically, my mind, of late, has been recalling a very profound commentary written by Blaise Pascal ( 1623-1662) , that great scientist, and arguably one the great minds in Western intellectual age 12 he had worked out the equivalent of of many of Euclid's geometrical theorems. At 19 he invented the first practical calculating machine...... whose inventions were even more significant than Steve Jobs. And who later became a great Christian apologist.


Verse : Psalm 51:1

The God of the Christians is not a God who is simply the author of mathematical truths, or of the order the elements, as is the god of the pagans, and of the Epicureans. Nor is he merely a God who providentially disposes the life and fortunes of men, to crown his worshipers with length of happy years. Such was the portion of the Jews. But the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, the God of Jacob, the God of the Christians, is a God who fills their souls and hearts of his own, a God who makes them feel their inward wretchedness and his infinite mercy, who unites himself to their inmost spirit, filling it with humility and joy, with confidence and love, rendering them incapable of any other end other than himself.

All who seek God apart from Jesus Christ, and who rest in nature, either find no light to satisfy them, of form for themselves a means of knowing God and serving him without a mediator. Thus they fall either into atheism or into deism, two things which the Christian religion almost equally abhors.

The God of the Christians is a God who makes the soul perceive that he is her only good, that her only rest is in him, her only joy in loving him; who makes her at the same time abhor the obstacles which withhold her from loving him with all her strength. Her two hindrances, self-love and lust, are insupportable to her. This God makes her perceive that the root of self-love destroys her, and that he alone can heal.

The knowledge of God without that of our wretchedness creates pride. The knowledge of our wretchedness without that of God creates despair. The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the middle way, because in him we find both God and our wretchedness.

I pray God that this message will impact someone's heart and allow them to urgently feel their inward wretchedness before God, and understand that unless they are washed with the blood of the Lamb, even Jesus Christ, the wrath of God cometh like a thief in the night. But joy cometh in the morning for all who have accepted the grace of God freely offered to all who believe that Jesus died for their wretchedness. Amen