From the Pastor’s Desk
I’m currently privileged to serve Hope Lutheran Church as its Vacancy Pastor, assisted by Rev. Robert Ravell. There are many churches in the Bangor area you could choose from, but my I’ll let my past experience as a Hospice Chaplain help inform you about the difference you’ll find at Hope Lutheran. In my work of ministering to people who have been told that they have only about six months left to live, I’ve gained some valuable insights. Even life-long church members (including many Lutherans!) may fall into one of the following categories:
No assurance of salvation. They have no certainty about their salvation. They say things like, “I hope I’m going to heaven” but are very uncertain that they’ve lived a good enough life to deserve entry into heaven. They may have serious sins which trouble them, or they just may be very aware the very many “small” sins and bad habits which they’ve practiced over their lifetime.
False assurance of salvation. These individuals are “certain” that they’re going to heaven because they feel that they’ve led “a pretty good life”, have been long-time church members, or have served their congregations faithfully. Some with a false assurance of salvation may feel that “God is love and wouldn’t condemn anyone to hell”, or that all religions “lead to the same place”—to heaven.
What you will learn from attending Hope Lutheran Church are the biblical truths that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and that we are “justified by [God’s] grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Also, that there is only one mediator between God and man, the true God and true Man, Jesus Christ; “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6).
The above passages (any many more!) teach us that we can be certain of our salvation, but not because of our works. Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). No matter how faithful our church membership or church activities, we haven’t led a perfect life. But Jesus led the perfect life we are unable to live. He then took all of our sins and imperfections to the cross, shed his blood, died for those sins; and rose again victorious over sin, death, and the devil! We can be certain, therefore, of our salvation not based on what we’ve done, but based on what Jesus has done for us.
We also receive assurance of our salvation through our Holy Baptism, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4). Whenever the devil causes us to doubt our salvation we can look at our Baptism for the reassurance and comfort that “we too will walk in newness of life”.
Jesus also give us continuing forgiveness of sins and strength to live as his people though the sacrament of Holy Communion in which we receive his true body and blood in, with, and under the bread and wine. “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16).
St. John tells us, “The blood of Jesus, [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7); therefore we are given a new life through him, “If Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Romans 8:10).
Come join us at Hope Lutheran Church as we learn more about that new life in Christ during our Bible classes at 9:00 AM each Sunday. Then join us for worship at 10:00 AM, in which we gather together to receive the blessings he gives to us through his precious Word and Sacraments.
Pastor Robert Fischer