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Peace be with you…

One of the reasons for the Reformation – now 500 years ago, was because the Roman Catholic Church at that time was selling Indulgencies to patrons – mostly to those who were poor, uneducated, and illiterate.

Indulgencies were a piece of paper – looked something like a certificate, that you would pay cash, in which that piece of paper would gave you ACCESS into your eternal life. In other words, that paper would be considered your ‘walking’ papers to get into heaven.

We receive ACCESS to many different things and in many forms –

Access to get on your computer, network platforms, and other computer programs – ACCESS comes in the form of a password or an activation key that contains random numbers and letters that you type into a specific place on your computer.

Buying your first car and home – ACCESS to that car or home must have a key in order, to drive that new car or walk in the front door of your new home You need the KEY to have ACCESS!

Having ACCESS to that “thing” that you want to have ACCESS to – is a privilege. It is something that you have paid for or have earned in some way, to have that ACCESS – For example, you bought the computer, the car, or the home. It’s yours. And, now you will have full ACCESS to it.

The same principle and concept was with the indulgencies. You paid for that piece of paper – You wanted to know that you had “Full ACCESS” into Heaven! And, so you paid for it to have that privilege.

What about you? Do you want to know that you have full ACCESS into heaven? And, if that ACCESS doesn’t come in the form of a piece of Paper or some other form of guarantee, how do you know – What then gives you the right to have ACCESS?

We don’t sell indulgencies, therefore, you can’t buy your ACCESS into heaven like you can with a computer, car or house…So, what then gives you ACCESS into your eternal life?

Here is my hope for today…If you hear nothing else, I pray you hear this…

YOU HAVE THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM – You hold the keys! IT IS WHAT YOU DO WITH THOSE KEYS THAT MAY OR MAY NOT GIVE YOU ACCESS INTO YOUR ETERNAL LIFE.

You have two keys. And, you need both keys in order, to have ACCESS into your Eternal Life.

It is the day that Jesus had risen from the dead. In John’s Gospel, Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb and told her to go and tell the disciples that she had seen him and that he was alive.

We also know from Luke’s Gospel that Jesus walked with two disciples on their way to Emmaus, broke bread with them, and he was revealed to them through the breaking of the bread.

It’s evening now. It’s the first day of the week – probably on a Sunday (Their Sabbath is on Saturday). The disciples are scared to death. The radical Jews of that day, had brutally crucified Jesus and if they figure out that the disciples are Jesus’ followers, there would be a good chance that they may killed as well.

Not knowing what to do, they meet in a house and lock the doors. In their midst, Jesus appears to them and says, “Peace be with you.”

And, all I can imagine is that there was no peace – they were probably shaking and half scared out of their wits! Think about it! What if Jesus would appear in human form right here and right now in this place? We would be scared to death!

But, then Jesus proves to them who he is – He begins to show them where they stabbed him in the side and the nail holes in his hands and his feet. And, again Jesus says, “Peace be with you.” Once the disciples had proof that this man was Jesus, their beloved friend, they were so happy to see him.

And, then what does Jesus do? He breathes on them, saying: God sent me into this world so that your sins can be forgiven. I came so that those who are suffering – sick and in pain, hungry and poor, and feel hopeless – can now have hope. I came so that through me you can have a relationship with your God – DIRECT ACCESS to God!

I came to this world begging all people for repentance and to turn away from their sin – turn towards God for a right relationship.

And, so now, Jesus says, God has sent me, so now I’m sending you – in my place to do the very things I have taught you to do in the name of Jesus Christ.

And then Jesus breaths on them and say, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And, if we could know the rest of the conversation, it might sound like this: You are going to need the Holy Spirit, because you will not be able to do my work without him. I’m about to give you the keys to the Kingdom – FULL ACCESS – and you are going to need all the help you can possibly get.

And here are your keys:

IF you forgive the sins of others, then I will forgive you.

But, if you retain the sins of others – then they are not forgiven. What you bind up here on earth – your sin, hatred, and even disgust for others whom are not like you – will bind you up in your eternal life.

Jesus did not go to the cross for no reason – He went for you!

He went for you just so this could even be possible. When Jesus broke the barrier of death – And, I mean death in the sense of “SIN”- Because when we have sinned in our thoughts, and our words, and in our actions, we are “bound up” –- And, we may as well die…

It is only Jesus Christ that can unbound you – Free you from sin – and give you peace.

He is the only one that can do that…

But, here is where I get a little hung up…And, I keep going back to God’s Mission Statement:

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

And so I am thinking, I thought all I had to do was BELIEVE in Jesus and then I would have ACCESS into my eternal life!

And, honestly here is where people misunderstand what it means to believe in Jesus –

Our BELIEF in the Christ Jesus creates a RESPONSE – It’s almost like a domino effect. When one domino falls, it makes the next one fall, and the next, and the next, and so on. And, so it is with our belief in Christ. Our actions are like a domino effect…

In other words, our Belief in Jesus is not just saying the words – It is your ACTIONS that will reveal what you truly believe. You can say the words all you want – But, it will only be true by the way that you live out your life…

Jesus said, “Just as the Father sent me, I send you…” Jesus called his disciples into living a life in Christ. And, here is the thing…You will need the Holy Spirit to live this life…You will not be able to do it on your own.

It is a life of worship, study, and discipline in the name of Christ. And, life is good until there is conflict…

Life is good until you are abused or deeply hurt by others.

Life is good until you become sick and there is no cure.

Or, maybe life has never been good – Maybe you don’t even know what it means to be loved by others.

But, yet…IF YOU FORGIVE THE SINS OF OTHERS, THEY ARE FORGIVEN…

BUT, IF YOU RETAIN THEM – THEY ARE RETAINED.

ACCESS into your eternal life. These are the Keys.

FORGIVENSS of others is your walking papers into your eternal life.

Not always so easy, is it? But, yet it is what we are called to do – to go and proclaim the Forgiveness of sins. And, I don’t think we can proclaim it without believing it and putting it into action.

Just as the Father has sent me, now I send you.

Jesus died on the cross for his proclamation to the world of the forgiveness of sins.

You have been given the KEYS to the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN!

In “The Message” translation of the Bible, Eugene Peterson puts it this way:

“If you forgive someone’s sins, they are gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them!”

“Receive the Holy Spirit.” And, Proclaim Christ who has forgiven you.

You have the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. You have DIRECT ACCESS –

Amen.

About pastorterrihttps://pastorterri.wordpress.comI serve as the pastor at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Augusta, GA.

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