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Private and Public Faith

We meet an unusual man named Gideon in chapter 6 of Judges. Gideon is the one chosen by God to lead Israel against Midian.

When the Lord appears to Gideon he does not just listen to the Lord and obey. He has doubts. He is not sure if he can trust him. After all, if God is so powerful why is life for Israel so bad under the oppressive Midianites?

Gideon asks the Lord to perform a sign so he can believe him.

Later, at the end of the chapter, Gideon once again asks the Lord to give him a sign of his power and presence. In both instances the Lord gives him the sign to encourage his faith.

Gideon needed assurance of God's power in his life. Gideon needed to know that God will keep his promises.

Today, we don't need to ask God for a sign. God has already given us a sign - the sacraments.

Specifically, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is a sign and a seal of God's promises to us. In the sacrament the Holy Spirit strengthens our faith and confirms God's covenant with his people.

The bread and the wine signify that through the broken body and spilled blood of Jesus Christ our sins are forgiven. Moreover, the Holy Spirit seals those spiritual promises upon our hearts as we receive the elements with faith in him.

Gideon asked God for a sign and received it. Today, God gives us a sign in the sacrament and we are to receive it by faith.

Finally, in chapter 6 Gideon's personal faith is emboldened by the sign in order that he will demonstrate his faith in public. He reveals his faith by obeying the call to destroy the altar to Baal in his hometown. With his personal faith strengthened by the sign from God, Gideon obeys.

As the Word of God and the sacrament reveal God's promises to you, how will you shine the light of the Gospel to others in your life?

How will you demonstrate your faith in the Triune God to others in Mt Pleasant and Charleston? 

 

The Nature of Redemption

The Bible contains R rated stories. The story of Deborah, Barak, and Jael in Judges 4 is one of those stories.

God's people are oppressed by the wicked King Jabin and his military leader Sisera. The wisdom of God's plan to save his people comes from Deborah, a prophetess in Israel. 

She instructs Barak to gather 10,000 powerful Israelite warriors at Mt Tabor and fight Sisera and his 900 iron-plated chariots. When Barak leads his men into battle the Lord brings a heavy rain that leaves Sisera and his chariots stuck in the mud! 

With defeat looming, Sisera flees the battlefield and finds hospitality in the tent of an ordinary woman - Jael (her name means "mountain goat").

Sisera had a reputation as an evil man. When he falls asleep, Jael takes the opportunity to quietly approach him with a mallet and a tent peg. With "callous efficiency", she drives the peg through his skull, pinning his head to the dirt floor.

An ordinary woman with two ordinary elements - a tent peg and mallet - led to the death of Sisera and freedom for the people of God.

This short story gives us a unique perspective of the BIG story of redemption - of God redeeming his people from sin and death.

The Apostle Paul says that the cross of Christ reveals the wisdom of God. While some see Christ crucified as foolishness, Christians see the wisdom of God at Calvary - because it is at the cross where God remains holy by punishing sin, but also reveals his grace by forgiving sinners (1 Corinthians 1).

Moreover, the cross reveals the power of God. When God seemed at his weakest - in human flesh, beaten, tortured, and nailed to a wooden cross - he was actually defeating sin and death. To borrow a phrase from the English theologian John Owen, the death of death occurred in the death of Christ.

In other words, God used the death of his only Son to powerfully conquer death and give eternal life to his people.

Finally, our redemption occurs in an ordinary and mundane manner.

Jesus Christ was born to an unwed teenage mother, raised in a small town, worked for years making tables & chairs, lived without a home, and then was crucified between two common criminals on a cross. 

Yet, it is through his life, death, and resurrection that you have the gift of forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life.

 

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