Heaven’s Work

The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

Apostle’s Creed

That’s a lot of sitting and waiting for the end to come. But Jesus isn’t waiting around watching youtube videos. He’s praying, for you.

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

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

I like the way Jaroslav J. Vajda says it in the hymn Up through Endless Ranks of Angels:

Death destroying, life restoring,

Proven equal to our need,

Now for us before the Father

As our brother intercede;

Flesh that for our world was wounded,

Living, for the wounded plead!

Jesus’ last words on the cross were “It is finished!” And indeed His work of atonement is finished. But Jesus’ work continues in heaven as He prays for us on earth. Take comfort in whatever you face today: He knows, He’s praying.

The One Note of the Law

“When a tone-deaf person sings, it can be painful to hear. But if you have to listen to theologians who know only the one note of the law, it is not only painful but deadly.” Steven Paulson, Luther for Armchair Theologians

The law is simply everything we aOne Notere supposed to do. In the Bible, the law is good. The law is very good at what it does, which is accuse us before a holy God. Because of the law, we know when we step outside of God’s will. Because of the law, we stand condemned as law-breakers.

Good preachers preach the law to afflict people with their failure to keep the law. But if a preacher only knows the one note of the law, they keep preaching the law, even to those already broken by their sin. This serves only to weigh down people with burdens they cannot bear.

Good preachers preach a second note, a greater note, of gospel to those crushed by the law. The gospel announces to those who cannot bear the burden of their sin that Jesus Christ has already carried their burden on His own body to the cross. At the cross, their sin was nailed to the cross. Jesus declared, “It is finished!” putting an end to our sin bearing.

Few preachers would see themselves as preaching only the one note of the law. Most preachers see themselves as gospel centered in all they do. But if the law is simply everything we are supposed to do, consider: How much of the sermons you hear encourage, call, or exhorts you to do something?

The sermon may not be on the Ten Commandments or even the Old Testament, but if its major note leaves you challenged to do something, you might have a one note preacher. One note preachers may talk about the gospel, but their note of emphasis will be on what you should do in light of the gospel. In other words, on the law.

The problem with the one note of the law: while the law does a great job exposing our sin, it’s a complete failure in making us right with God. A steady diet of one note law will leave you burdened by your failure to keep the law. Only the second note of gospel, of God’s work for you, gives life, sustains faith, and leads to new life.