I was thinking about our day yesterday here at Harrisburg. Yesterday we saw visible evidence of the Lord at work in our services. We had six people baptized, two professions of faith, and a family came forward to join us in membership. But while we were worshipping, our brothers and sisters at FBC Sutherland Springs, TX, experienced the greatest tragedy of its kind on American soil. What FBC Sutherland Springs has been through can only be described as evil.
In our sermon from James 3:13-18, it says that “where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” I am not sure that we will ever see the contrast between the kingdom of the world and the kingdom of Christ more clearly than we do at FBC Sutherland Springs. While the members of the church were worshipping and praising God for his grace, goodness, mercy, forgiveness, holiness, and love they were murdered and injured. Among those who have died are children, teenagers, and pregnant women.
Dear friends, the truths that we proclaim concerning the Gospel are real. The lostness of the world is real, and the hurt and pain our brothers and sisters are experiencing is real. As we reflect on our day at Harrisburg yesterday; and as we react and process the evil that unfolded in Sutherland Springs, let us be comforted and motived by the Word of God.
From our sermon on November 5, 2017:
You can listen and/or watch here: http://harrisburgonline.org/sermons/faith-works
- Repent of the ways that you follow the wisdom of the world instead of the wisdom and Word of God.
- Commit to living your life according to the foolishness of Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:17-19)
- Remember that God loves you. (John 3:16-17, Romans 5:8, 1 John 4)
- Evil is real and God is still good.
- Where this world and our flesh fail us, Jesus Christ and the grace of God are sufficient for everything we face.
In response to the tragedy at FBC Sutherland Springs, TX:
1 John 1:5 says, “ This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” Though evil happens, it does not change the fact of who God is. Evil and death are the result of sin. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Sin is the explanation for why the tragedy in Sutherland Springs happened. Though motives may be found, and though explanations may be given by investigators and the news media, there will never be a justification for the evil that happened. In fact, there is never justification for sin, only justification for sinners. God never condones our sin, but he does atone for our sin through Christ.
Jesus’ death on the cross redeems us from our sin and justifies us, the ungodly, before God. We are justified because the punishment or penalty that our sin deserves has been paid by His death on the cross. In the same way, the life of Christ has been given to us, and we are called to walk in the light as He is in the light. (1 John 1:5-7)
The Gospel, or good news about Jesus, tells us that this world does not satisfy us. It leaves us longing for more; it expands our emptiness instead of filling it. But, through Christ we are made whole, we are made complete, and we are satisfied with the love and grace of God. Though this world will fail us and even hurt us, we know that the grace of God is sufficient for our sins. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” We know that God’s grace is sufficient to sustain us through the most evil and tragic of circumstances. Colossians 1:17 tells us concerning Christ that “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Jesus is enough to save us, and through all that we go through, through all that we face, He alone has the power to hold us together and keep us through the trials and tragedies of life.
Pray for our brothers and sisters in Sutherland Springs, TX. Pray that God will comfort them. Pray that God will sustain them. Pray that they will know the truth of Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Pray that they will trust God, depend on God, and be renewed daily by God.
Pray for us here at Harrisburg. Pray that we too will rely and depend on the grace of God in the face of our current circumstances. Pray that Jesus will be enough for us and that we will not pursue the world, but instead we will pursue Christ. Pray that we will be faithful to God and to His Word because He loves us and we love Him.