Friday, December 31, 2010

The Promise of His Coming (31)

The Comfortable Words are well known to anyone familiar with the 1662 Book of Common Prayer service of Holy Communion. They serve an important function in the order of liturgy - coming immediately after the confession of sins and the absolution; they are words able to comfort, through their great and very precious promises to those who need to hear them.

There are some words from 'our Saviour Christ', as well as from the Apostles Paul and John. It is the sentence from Paul's first letter to Timothy that links in again with our Christmas theme of the promise of his coming:

This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. (1 Tim 1:15 - BCP)

Words able to comfort, words which are true, words which are worthy to be received by all, telling us, reminding us of why Jesus came into the world - to save sinners. Sinners like us, who have just acknowledged and confessed our manifold sins and wickedness. That's why the comfortable words have such impact and are so memorable - they apply again the gospel, telling us that the very reason Jesus came into the world was to save sinners like us.

It's almost disappointing, though, that Cranmer, when he put together the service in his Prayer Book, stopped where he did (although we can see why he did!). Here's how Paul continues:

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Tim 15: ESV)

Paul is often much aligned, criticised for being very difficult to understand (don't worry, Peter thought the same!), seen as too far off and remote from ordinary sinners like us. However, even as Paul presents the grand theology of the gospel, declaring the glory of God in the good news of salvation, he becomes intensely personal. Just think of Galatians 2:20 - 'And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.'

So we see it here too - Christ Jesus came into the world, and I'm the worst sinner in the world. So if Jesus came to save me, he can save any other sinner! A bad sinner, yes, but Jesus came to save me.

It's the difference between the academic knowledge of theology: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (even the devil can affirm that!); and the personal knowledge of salvation: Christ Jesus came into the world to save me, the sinner, the chief of sinners.

We know why Jesus came - but did he come for you? You know that you're a sinner, but did he come to save you? Or will you spurn his salvation? Don't let another year pass while still lost and helpless. Turn today to the Saviour, and know his peace and forgiveness and rescue.

No comments:

Post a Comment