Roger's Postings

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Romans 6:1-11.                 Live your baptism??                                        25/6/17

{1) Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? {2} By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? {3} Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? {4} We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. {5} If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. {6} For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-- {7} because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. {8} Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. {9} For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. {10} The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. {11} In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Here this morning we have a most challenging and yet a most encouraging message for us to consider carefully. It has much to say to us and to the church today. It has much to say to those who are seeking after an easy, soft Christianity, where we can have and do what we want.

It challenges those who think that they can presume on God’s grace and it doesn’t matter how they live and act in relation to their fellow human being. It also challenges those who think that we can attract members by giving them a soft, feel-good, all-tolerant accepting church.

Yet it is most encouraging to those who are burdened by their weaknesses and the failures of humanity and facing death or a life that seems to be ‘death warmed up.’ It helps us to focus our attention where it needs to be. It points us to the sure and certain hope that we have as a result of our baptisms.

I believe we desperately need to hear this message today, for much of our life we focus on ourselves and the world around us; even when it comes to the Christian faith and life. “I have my faith; therefore, I can do [whatever].” Our faith and life is centred in ourselves.

Here are some examples that we hear regularly. ‘I believe in Jesus Christ, so it doesn’t matter if I do things that are wrong’ ‘Surely I have every right to get even with someone who has wronged me.’ ‘We mustn’t speak out against error: after all, they have their understanding of the truth.’ ‘Don’t you tell me what I can or cannot do; after all we live in the freedom of the gospel.’ ‘I don’t need to go to church regularly, or Bible Study, or even desire to know the truth, because I think I am doing OK.’ ‘We must liven up our church services or else we will lose our young ones.’ ‘We mustn’t insist on people holding to the same beliefs that we have.’ And the list goes on and on.

We all too often want everything to fit into our own criteria of what we believe is right and good. We want to make and find our own life. We want to live life to the full, and have that which we believe is good for us. After all, life and living is what it is all about; us and our happiness is paramount. Surely that is what God wants for you and me.

Yet the reality of life is far different. The more we hanker after life and its pleasure; and the more that we strive after the ideal life; the more we find that we are left short; over and over again. We want our life to go well for us, but we experience pain and frustration: we want love and acceptance and are left more and more alone: we search for fulfilment and find only meaninglessness and emptiness. The more that we strive for the things of life that we want, the more we experience the opposite. We long for life and only find death. We are living, walking death; and we are totally unable to make any sort of life for ourselves.

But then, as we come to this understanding of life, we are pointed to exactly the opposite. We are pointed to the baptismal font.  We are pointed to that fact that there we are drowned and died, but have in that been given life – eternal life with God. There we find that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

So as we as death-bound sinners come to the baptismal font we are connected to Jesus and all that he had done for us on the cross. There we were drowned; killed with Jesus Christ for that sin and to that sinful nature that clings so closely to us. There we are given the new life of Christ. Just as surely as he rose from the dead, so we also are assured that this new life of Jesus Christ is ours. Our whole life and living is now found in him and in him alone.

Our old life and orientation in life was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. We have been freed from sin; that means, that life that has to strive in order to have what we want. We have been freed to be able to have the life that God knows should be there for us. In connection with Jesus Christ it is now ours already. Completely! Fully!

‘But; but ….’ I can hear you say; ‘Where is it? Where is this new and good life?’ Where, in this world, do we find that which we so desperately need?

 Look again at the baptismal font; it is there in our connection with Jesus Christ and his life, death and resurrection. When Jesus walked this earth, did he have life good and easy? I think not! And he certainly didn’t promise us that it would be the case for us either. In fact, he said that we could expect quite the opposite.

Along with that he says; as we bear our cross, doing what he would have us be doing, he will be using it all for good; that is for people’s soul’s salvation and eternal life. And we are able to bear it all because we now have the full assurance that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. So also, it will be the case for us. Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Along with that assurance and knowing that we are now connected in Christ, we now take note of those next words that are spoken. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

That surely is now the positive challenge then that we have before us today: To count ourselves dead to that old self-centred, I want to do my own thing and get my own way, type of attitude. That surely is not what is important to us. We are a part of something infinitely better; and it is guaranteed for us. We can now acknowledge the depravity of life that we experience, and now be able to look to that which is far better.

So we are now alive to God in Christ: that means we will want him to have his way in our lives, at all times. He and what he says and wants is what will be all important in our lives. As we do allow him to have his way we will find the life that is needed. God himself will work great things, for his kingdom. In that we will find all the meaning, satisfaction and purpose that is needed for us as we live out our lives in the midst of a sinful, hurting world.

So, shall we go on living as if we are the centre of the world?   By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? We know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

We therefore, now, know that we are dead. Our life as we selfishly want it to be, counts for nothing. No longer do we find, chase, or make our own life. It is nothing. What is important is the life that we are now baptised into; Jesus Christ. There we find the life that we truly need, and which gives all that is necessary for us as we live out our lives every day.

Jesus Christ is surely the centre of our world and the centre of our activity; whether that is at home, at work or when we are with our friends. As we focus on that life that we have in and with Jesus Christ we will find that all our petty selfishnesses are nothing and mean nothing. We have something far more important; and far more life-giving.

Even though we may still experience all kind of weaknesses, hurts and tragedies we can know for sure that they are not the end of the story. Nothing that happens in our lives, is now bad for us. For God is using it all for good – either our good or the good of others. Nothing now can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

So now we can go forward, boldly and confidently. We face everything, knowing that since we are united with Jesus Christ the future is certain. Our troubles and hardships are but a brief interlude, before an eternity in heaven with our great God, there to enjoy the very best of everything.

So let us remember, daily, our baptism and what God has done for us in it. Then let us go forward to live this new life that is given to us; all the while giving all glory and honour to our great God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to whom it belongs, now and for all eternity. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, June 17, 2017


Matthew 9:35-10:8.         The Kingdom of Heaven is near!!               18/6/17



{35)  Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. {36} When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. {37} Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. {38} Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

{1}  He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. {2} These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; {3} Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; {4} Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. {5} These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. {6} Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. {7} As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' {8} Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.



Today's society is struggling; and in many ways has given up on the whole idea that God is here, with us and for us: It has put aside the whole idea that the kingdom of heaven is near. I am sure that we all here struggle with this from time to time. I know that I do. Often we wonder where in the world is God?



What is our answer for the family and friends of a little boy tragically taken in an accident? Where is God in the prayers that we send up time and time again, with nothing seeming to happen? What has the kingdom of God got to do with the here and now, in the midst of all the tragedies and hardships of life? Where is God working, when nothing results from the preaching and administration of the Sacraments week after week, when the Bible says that it is through those means that he will grow the Church?



We all struggle with these and many other thoughts along this line. There is a whole world out there and in here, crowded with worried, helpless and hopeless people; people caught in the web of life, from which there seems to be no escape. So we bury ourselves in our work, pleasure, drink or drugs; anything as long as we don’t have to think about these issues, for it is all too depressing. This is our world today; harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

                     

Interestingly, here in this reading, Jesus is sending us out to them all - with the clear message; the kingdom of God is near. We who ourselves are often struggling and grappling with this idea, are the ones Jesus is sending out to help those around us. We are called to go out to these people and tell them this simple message; the kingdom of God is near. In fact, he says; As you go about your daily life, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' No - more than that - we are called to take the kingdom of heaven to those people; to be the presence of Jesus for them. That is what is being asked of you and me.



So we need to ask, what does it mean that we are to go and preach that the kingdom of heaven near? Does it mean that we go around like some and stand on the street corners or knock on door after door, proclaiming that the end is near and that the prophecies of Revelations are coming true, so you had better watch out or you will get caught out. Telling them that God will judge them for their rottenness; so repent and turn back to God for the Kingdom of heaven is near. Telling them that God expects us all to live better lives and that we are to do this and that if we want to be saved.



Well, yes, there is an element of that in this call for us; but there is much more; and a far more important message involved in these words. It is not judgement and judging that Jesus is primarily concerned with. We are told that as he saw the crowds, his heart was filled with pity for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. It was pity that motivated Jesus to send his disciples and us out with love for those who are struggling and lost. There is a whole harvest of them out there in the community.



In Jesus day they maybe weren't contemplating suicide; maybe they were not caught in a web of domestic violence or hemmed into an anti-social, self-centred society; but they were still harassed and helpless never-the-less. Today there are crowds of them; we are only too well aware of that, if we read and listen to the news; if we lift our eyes beyond our own self-centred, egotistical little world of our own.



The message that God has here for them all, is, that despite what might seem to the contrary, the kingdom heaven is near – that God is not very far away from each and every one of us. He and his mercy is every present for us; it is just that so often we are not aware of it; and we don't recognise what is plainly obvious. Let me illustrate.





Jim was a small business owner who was struggling under all the pressures of modern business life: high costs and low margins; growing regulatory requirements and constant bureaucratic changes; and much more; all placing a huge stain on his management skills and brain power, causing him to wonder whether all the long hours, hard work and uncertainties were worth it. He became so wrapped up in the difficulties and struggles, that he no longer considered the working of God in his life. He had too many other things to think of and hassle with.



He became more interested in the fact that business down the road was sprouting about how well he was doing, than the fact that his bank manager was not hassling him and his clientele was still faithful. The constant adequate income was no more seen as a blessing from God, but as that which seemed to be a constant struggle to maintain. The growth or lack of it in his business was more and more seen only in terms of the work that he had put in, and the costs that he had to outlay. All the blessings and God's hand in it all was lost.



Along with that, he failed to see how God was upholding him and keeping him going through his family, his friendships and the encouragement of his neighbours. He saw the big salaries of his brothers in the top end of the city, but didn't stop to think that he also had clothes on his back, a roof over his head, three good feeds a day. The kingdom of God was at work all around and through his life, but he couldn't see it – he didn't recognise that it was there.



Jim had long since rationalized to himself and others that it was OK to rip someone off in a business deal if you can get away with it; after all everyone else is doing it. He could slander others around him, because he felt that he might be better accepted by others; he had to fight for his own rights.



However, deep down Jim knew that these sorts of practices were wrong and was what is wrecking the morality of our nation. It bothered him that his relationships with others; and with his wife and children in particular was a long way from what it should be; that the false front of strength and a man who has got it all together, belied the frailty and uncertainty that lay below the surface. He was harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. He longed for peace, love and contentment, but could no longer see that it was all there for him.



God was near to him. He was connected to God and the Church through baptism and his attendance at worship, and had heard God's message many times. But now it no longer sank in, for he was distracted by many things. As a result, he no longer considered that the Kingdom of heaven was already drawn near to him.



His distractions meant that he failed to listen to the true significance of Jesus' death and resurrection for his own life. When told again and again of the fact that Jesus has died for him and everything he had done wrong and that in connection with Jesus there was a whole new aspect of life there for him to take hold of and live in light of, it never sunk in. His eternal salvation and life was secure and certain, but he no longer recognised it.



The kingdom of heaven was ever so near to him and so many like him. But the workers to help him see it unfortunately are ever so few. Here though, is where Jesus reminds us that we have our part to play. We are sent out to help those around us to see again that God is not afar off. We are to remind each other by the little things that we say and do, that God is involved and active in every part of our life.



We have received without paying from all the goodness of our Lord. In our baptism we have been freely made children of God - heirs of eternal life; forgiven, healed, restored; given new life. Thereby we know and experience the presence and blessings of God Almighty himself - every day. We certainly have received greatly without deserving it or having to pay for it; so let us give without being paid – without expecting anything in return.



We do have something to say - something to share - with others as we go about our daily lives. We do have an important message for the harassed and helpless - the kingdom of heaven is near. Jesus Christ and his death on the cross alone is what gives life and gives meaning to life. Without him we are nothing. With him and the salvation that he has won for us we have that which enables us to live with and cope with whatever it is that we face in life. Jesus Christ alone is what our world around us desperately needs to hear. Here, remember, that we are the only workers God has to get this message of love and forgiveness to all those around us who need to hear it.



So pray that the Lord will not only send you, but go with you, help you and bless what you do in his name, as you go and proclaim that the kingdom of heaven has drawn near. For to our great God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit alone belongs all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, May 20, 2017


Acts 17:22-31                     The Unknown God???                                   21/5/17



{22) Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. {23} For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. {24} "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. {25} And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. {26} From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. {27} God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. {28} 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' {29} "Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone--an image made by man's design and skill. {30} In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. {31} For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."



Today we have many people acknowledging AN UNKNOWN GOD. Most people will say they believe in God; but they do not really know him; who he is or what he is like; or take him all that seriously. This god is someone out there who has set the world in motion and then left it to run by itself; and is a god who will receive them all into heaven when their time is up here on earth.



Sadly, we also have many today who claim that there is no God. They have hardened their hearts to such an extent, that their egotism will not allow even their conscience to remind them of the reality of the God who is there. They seek their meaning for existence in the goodness of humanity, but are all left in wonderment and despair.



However, just as in Athens of Paul’s day, so also we today have many objects of worship, but to the people who worship them, they have little connection to the true God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. On Anzac Day there was great reverence and crowds of people, all remembering the heroics of great men; and seeking to gain strength and courage for our nation from this. This is good, up to a point. We need to be thankful for those who lived and died for their nation.



Then we have perhaps the greatest religion of our time, football. Crowds of people will reverently attend and sing the praises of their team. Here is their great escape from the day to day life. Then of course, there is the great Australian dollar and materialism that is seen as that which will give us what we need so that we can be truly happy.



 All Australians look up to and see many things as being that which will give us what we need for this life and beyond. However, all these form of reverence and idealism that do not have their basis in the One True God, are a problem and will leave us short of what we really need.



On top of that we have people religiously following Allah, Budda and many other similar gods and new age thinking. The thinking is that here is the one who should be worshipped. However, they are not the true and only God: The one who is the Lord of heaven and earth. So we cannot accept them as being on the same path to heaven, or tolerate them as a real expression of Christianity. They are religious, but not worshippers of God Almighty himself.



Sadly, too often, even within Christian circles there are many people who are religious; but who do not know God. They know all kinds of facts about him, but they do not know him. Others believe and speak of a god and worship him, without understanding and accepting Jesus Christ as the Son of God who came and died on the cross for our salvation. Others acknowledge God; but they make no attempt to listen to or heed what he has to say. Others think that the only way they will be acceptable to him, is to live up to a certain standard of “Christian life” or have certain spiritual experiences.



Here in the face of all of this religious thinking, the true God, through Paul, is proclaiming very clearly who he is. He is the Lord of heaven and earth. In other words, he is the one and only true God that can be found anywhere. He is the Almighty God who is supreme over all. There are no other Gods besides him. He alone then is the one who is to be worshipped and glorified. He alone is the one who is to be looked up to and followed. Every other object of worship is a worthless idol and a distraction from what is right and true; and in the end will prove disastrous.

This Lord of heaven and earth we are reminded here is not a God who is limited to churches, statues, books or anything else at all. As much as he is there in all of those things, he is much more and beyond anything that we could possibly make him to be. He is not a God who conforms to our limitations and thinking. He does not even need us to serve him. He is one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph 4:6)  He is as we learnt in our confirmation lessons; omni almost everything; unlimited by time, space, and in power, knowledge and understanding. His greatness is way beyond human understanding.



Yet as we heard in our Gospel reading today; he chooses to live with you and will be in you. (John 14:17) That is all who believe, trust and desire to live in him. Jesus goes on to say; I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:18-20) This great God has chosen to dwell with and in us human beings; his creation. Isn’t that something amazing!



Particularly when we remember that we are not the centre of the world. The world does not revolve around us; but the Almighty God is the centre of it all. He himself gives all men [all people] life and breath and everything else. And not just gives us life, but he determined the times set for us and the exact places where we should live. God did this so that all people would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. Even though he the Supreme Being he is at work in our lives and is close to us.



Even though we have sinned and chosen to go our own way, he allows troubles and hardships to be a part of our lives so that we would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him. He does not erase us from the face of the earth because of our selfish egotism, but works through all the mistakes we make and difficulties that are imposed on us by a sinful world. He is constantly seeking to draw us to himself; trying to make us aware that we need him and the forgiveness and salvation that Jesus won for us through his life, death and resurrection. 



Through Jesus and his death on the cross and our connection to him and his death and resurrection, through our baptism, we are assured that we are now God’s children. His Spirit now lives in us and goes with us as we live out our lives day by day. We are God’s offspring.



Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone--an image made by man's design and skill. Since he has done all of this for us and continues to live with us and in us, now we surely will treat him with much respect. We will trust him and take him seriously. He will mean much more to us than our money, material things and technology. We will not treat him as a possession or as one who should do what we want him to do.



Surely we will look up to him; wanting to live in a close personal relationship with him; wanting to be where he wants us to be and to do what he wants us to do. What is important to him will be important to us. We take what he has to say in the Bible as his Word, instead of twisting, changing and ignoring what it says. He will be our Lord and our God.



Here let us not forget those other words that he spoke also. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.



So we are reminded that he does look closely at who we are and what we think, say and do. His Son Jesus, who came into our world and died on the cross for us, will also come and judge us all on that last day. He knows if we have taken him seriously or not. He knows what we believe and whether we trust him and all that he has done for us. Take note; he knows and he judges.



So take heart; here we are reminded again that our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is for real. He is the Almighty Lord of heaven and earth. He is the only true God and he seeks to be not far from each one of us. He loves us, forgives us and made us his very own. Believe him. Trust in him; and take him seriously. For to him alone belongs all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, May 13, 2017


John 14:1-14                       Show us God???                                                               14/5/17



1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.



We all have our own ideas of what God is like. All of us. Even those who try to convince themselves that there is no God. Deep down we all know that there is a God ‘out there’ somewhere. We also know that in the end we are answerable to him.



However, the question for us all is; who is he and what is he really like? If only we could see him and know what he is all about, then we could be sure. Particularly now as we reflect on the news of Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection. Is this for real? And can we be sure that it is not just a story, or at least a twisting of something that may have happened? “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Then we can be sure.



But of course that raises the real problem for us. Do we really want to know? You see, we know that there is a God and we also know that we have not taken him seriously and that we will be answerable for that. We have disobeyed him and we expect that he will punish us for it. Why else do we so often say, ‘I hope I will be in heaven’. We know that we are far from being the people that God would have us be. We know what we deserve, but we don’t want to think about it or acknowledge it.



Along with this, our sinful human nature wants ‘to be like God.’ Or perhaps more to the point, make God into the image that we want him to be. So God becomes in our thinking, the kind of god that we would like him to be. So we ignore those aspects of God in the Bible that we don’t like and highlight that which we like. So God becomes a god of our own making.



In this way we then can in some way appease our consciences and allow ourselves to live and do what we want. For instance, today many believe and teach that God is an all-loving and accepting God, but ignore his holiness, righteousness and wrath. So we ignore his Law and simply focus on the Gospel. Without the Law then, the Gospel – that is Jesus death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, becomes a nonsense. Christianity becomes nothing but a feel good religion, with no real substance or meaning.



But again deep down we know that this is not the case. We know that there is much more to God than that. We are just trying to convince ourselves that we can ignore the hard stuff and in the end God will accept us no matter what. As long as I am “sincere,” and as long as I live a reasonably good life, then ‘she’ll be right mate.’ But we are merely hoping that this is the case and that our deep conscience is wrong.



Now, here in this reading we have Phillip struggling to come to terms with who this Jesus is and who God is, and how much to take seriously Jesus and what his Word says. He, like us, seemed to be struggling with who Jesus was and what God was about, in and through Jesus. How can we be sure about all this stuff that Jesus is talking about and more?



In response to Jesus saying that he is going to heaven to prepare a place for us, Phillip asks: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” To which, Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”



So here we have Jesus laying it on the line for Phillip and for us. For starters, again the clear point is that Jesus alone is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. He is our only access to God and eternal life.



He is not one way amongst many. Muslim, Hindu, Good works ‘christianity’, Pentecostalism and many others are not other ways for us to gain access into heaven. Nor is living a good ethical life [whatever that might mean], or I am a reasonably good bloke so I will be okay. Jesus Christ and his death on the cross is our only way through the mess of this life and into heaven.



So also, He is not one truth amongst many other truths we might want to make as the truth. He alone knows what is good and right for us. After all he was the creator of all, so he knows how it all works and what is best. Because he is all-knowing he is far superior to our frail human nature that is turned in on itself. So what he has given us in his Word – the Bible – is the truth that we need to know in order to get through this life and into the next.



Then also we are told that: He is not one life here and in eternity, amongst other eternal lives that we might like to think there are out there. If we are to truly live as we are intended to, then we are to be connected to he who is life itself – Jesus Christ. He again knows what life is meant to be for us. Any other life that we might think is appropriate is futile and empty. In the end they all will lead to disaster and death. Christ alone is life and gives life.



Following on from that Jesus again reiterates the point the no one comes to Father except through him. He alone is the only way to God’s presence and eternal life. It has to be, because in the Old Testament God it quite clear that sinful humanity – that is all of us – cannot come into God’s presence. His holiness would burn us up and destroy us.



So how does God uphold his holiness and yet make it possible for us to come into his presence? His Son’s coming into our world was for that very purpose. He takes our sinfulness on himself and allows God to punish him. God upholds his holiness by punishing all sin. His love is fulfilled in his forgiveness being extended to all of believe and are connected to this Jesus.



In this way forgiveness and acceptance is made possible for all who are connected to this Jesus Christ. So now when God looks at those who are in Christ he sees the perfection of his Son. There alone then we have access into God’s presence and eternal life.

But again then the question is raised, how can we know that this is all for real? Are the people out there who say this is a made up story, right? It all sounds a bit far-fetched and odd? Phillip says what is in the back of our minds. “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Then we can be sure. Then we can take all this seriously.



Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.  



So there is our answer. There is our proof. Jesus and the Father are one – they are in each other. When Jesus speaks, he speaks what his Father would have him speak and have all the authority of God almighty himself. All that Jesus said and did was what God himself wanted said and done.



The works that Jesus did, themselves are clear evidence of this. All the miracles that Jesus did were clearly seen to be only that which God himself can do. Even when he spoke it was commented that he spoke with the authority of God. Then he goes to Jerusalem to die on the cross, just as was prophesied hundreds and hundreds of years before hand. There is absolute proof even today that this is the case.



But then most telling of all; this Jesus rose from the dead after dying on the cross. After three days he arises just as he said would happen. This is the miracle of all miracles. Again this could be proven in a Court of Law today, to have really happened, even though it is humanly impossible.



The works of God are clear. The evidence is there that this Jesus is every bit in the Father and the Father in him. God has shown himself to us so that we can know for sure. Everything that he has said, done and promised is true and can be relied on. So we can go forward with a sure and certain hope into the future. Jesus is who he said he is, and the life and salvation that he has won for us can be relied on. So to him again then, be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, May 06, 2017


John 10:1-10.                      Jesus Christ - only gate to life!!                                   7/5/17



“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.



Very truly we have here another important message for us that results from Jesus’ death and resurrection. Here we are clearly told that this Jesus is our only access to God and all that he has in mind for us. To have the safety and security of being in God’s presence in heaven, we can only do so through Jesus Christ. And his death and resurrection is what guarantees and makes it a certainty.



There is no other way. Anyone who seeks access through any other way or means is a thief and a robber who is up to no good. This is an important message then, at a time when we are being encouraged to accept all kinds of views and ways as being equally acceptable.



Yet at the same time we have many desperately seeking to have the real sense of peace, hope and security that we know deep down should be there for us. We long for a life of no suffering, pain and death; Eternal life with the very best of everything. We all would like to have this. We long for it.



Here we are reminded that it is there for us, and the ‘gate’ to it is through Jesus Christ. There is no other way, despite all that is said by many around us. Jesus says: Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. He is very emphatic about this point. He only uses those words Very truly when he is making a very serious point; such as we have here.

To add to this, he says I am the gate. Now when he says I am, this is a direct reference to him being Almighty God himself. Remember when Moses asked God who he was at the burning bush, the reply came back; ‘I am who I am’ – Jahweh is the Hebrew word. This was the name that God’s people ever since knew this Almighty God by. This is the one and only true God that there is. He created, rescued and established them as people, and through whom he promised salvation for all people.



Here we have Jesus using a reference to this name for himself. Here God himself is speaking, so we had better ‘shut up and listen’ and take seriously what he is saying. The great ‘I am’ who created this world, and when it rebelled against him, he promised a way out for us all so that we can again be restored to the paradise that we long for.



Even more than that, he himself came into this world to be its saviour. He dies on the cross, taking the punishment that we deserve on himself so that we might be forgiven and once more be acceptable to God Almighty himself. Then he was raised again from the dead so that we can be absolutely sure that all of this is for real and important for us and our future.



Now here he tells us that this “I am”, himself, is the gate through whom alone we can enter this paradise. There alone is our hope for the future, in the midst of the troubles, disasters and death that we have created for ourselves, and yet long for a way out of. We are to look to and trust him alone to get us safely into paradise with himself.



He alone is the Lord of life and the only avenue through which to find the safety and life that is truly good. In him alone is salvation and eternal life possible. Freedom from everything harmful and bad is possible only through our Lord Jesus Christ.



Anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. They are seeking access through means that are not good or valid. Ultimately they will still not be a part of God’s family in heaven. No matter how much they might quote the bible and use nice words. If Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins is not central, there is a real problem.



That same implication is there for those who are trying to tell us that there are any number of other ways for us to get to heaven. Jesus is addressing the Pharisees who telling the people they would be acceptable to God if they lived up to certain standard. So if they were good enough and did what ‘good Jews’ do they could enter God’s kingdom. But the focus was on themselves and what they were doing, in order to be acceptable. There was no acknowledgement of their sinfulness and inability to do so without God’s help.



Today if you are a sincere ‘Christian’, Muslim, Hindu or whatever you are acceptable. ‘We are all on the same path to God’ we are told again and again. So if you are good ‘moral people’, whatever that is, then you are okay. Even when it comes to non-religious people, as long as they are reasonably ‘good’ people then they will be up there too. Jesus is not necessary, other than as a good example.



Yet that is not what Jesus tells us here. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.



Those who listen to any other voice other than Jesus Christ are in trouble. Anyone who tries to tell us things other than what we have in God’s Word and which points to the centrality of Jesus and his death on the cross are not speaking on behalf of God. In fact, they are speaking on behalf of the great thief and robber, Satan himself.



He, and our sinful human nature, wants to put the focus on ourselves and what we are doing. It wants us to think that our thinking and reasoning is what is important. It wants to shift the focus from Christ and the cross to something else, for our confidence and hope. We can decide or not how we want to get through life and be able to access heaven. We are not to listen to and follow these voices.



Here Jesus says of us: But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice. So we are to be wary of what voices we are listening to. We are to run away from those who are avoiding speaking about the centrality of Jesus Christ and his death on the cross.



It is interesting in my time in the ministry that when people are grounded in and surrounded by this Good News of Jesus Christ, they righty become very wary of those who speak a nice, soft and easy message. They do not recognize a stranger’s voice. They know the importance of what Jesus came into this world to do by dying on the cross. They avoid that which seeks to lead them subtly away from Jesus.



I believe it comes down to the fact that they know and take seriously what Jesus has done for them through his death and resurrection. They as a result hold him alone up as the Lord of life. So they then accept what he says about him being the only access into his kingdom. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.



And he goes on to say: When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. So they know what is important because they take him and his word seriously. They accept that what is in the Bible as his Word in its entirety. They do not seek to twist and change it to their own whims and wishes. Nor do they downplay and lessen the importance of Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.



So they go forward boldly and confidently, know that as they follow their Lord through the gate they will find all that they need. The future will all work out for good. They will be led through the rough and tumble of this life and then into eternal glory where they will have all that they need – the very best of everything, with nothing more to worry about.  



This all being the case, let us here seek to ever listen to our Lord Jesus and all that he has to say to us. Let us also recognise that Jesus Christ and his death on the cross is our only access into God’s presence for eternity.



Jesus says: I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.



 To him then be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish     


Saturday, April 29, 2017


Luke 24:13-35.                   Jesus revealed?                                                30/4/17



{13)  Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. {15} As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; {16} but they were kept from recognizing him. {17} He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. {18} One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” {19} “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. {20} The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; {21} but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. {22} In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning {23} but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. {24} Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” {25} He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! {26} Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” {27} And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. {28} As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. {29} But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. {30} When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. {31} Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. {32} They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” {33} They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together {34} and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” {35} Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.



Here today we have a strange story of two of Jesus’ disciples, who after his resurrection, when they met him, failed to recognise him. The death and resurrection did not change Jesus’ physical appearance, except for the wounds in his hands and side, yet they did not recognise the resurrected Jesus. Their minds were too fixed on what they and the society around them thought and expected that they just did not comprehend that Jesus could have risen from the dead and been present with them. It is just not humanly possible, so it can’t be.



Now is this not also the case for many people today; even for many who claim to be Jesus’ followers?  Dare I say it? Jesus Christ and his Word does not fit with what is reasonable and so we just will not accept it. They, like those disciples, speak of the things that Jesus had said and done, and of his death and resurrection, but still fail to comprehend that Jesus was and is present with us, and the importance of why the Christ had to suffer these things.



The same lack of seeing and understanding of Jesus and the importance of his death and resurrection and his presence with us, seems to be there again and again across the church scene. The focus has shifted from Christ and what he has said and done, to us and what we say, do and think. We fail to see Jesus glorified presence with us assuring us of the full forgiveness of sins and of the certainty of salvation and eternal life. Jesus Christ is not the Almighty God who is all important for our lives, but more so an example for us to follow.



Even in our own church the same danger and concern is there. Here then each of us also need to look carefully into our own lives as well. We need to look and learn from this text that we have before us. There were two things here which enabled those two disciples to see and comprehend Jesus and the importance of his death and resurrection. It was in the Scriptures and in the breaking of the bread that Jesus was revealed to them, as they needed.



Here it is interesting to note, that even the resurrection and the women’s news of it, was not enough for the disciples to understand. It was only after Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Only then did their hearts burn within them. It was when he broke bread with them that their eyes where opened and they finally recognised him.



So also for us today, it is the Word and the Sacraments which will truly reveal Jesus in all of his fullness to us. Yet it would seem that we want to look everywhere else for our answers and help. It is what the pope has said, or what Rick Warren or some other guru has said, not Scripture alone.



It is feelings, experiences and great crowds that are our revelations today, instead of in the breaking of bread of Holy Communion. Divine Service week after week, through which Jesus reveals and gives himself to us, is paramount for us to see Jesus and to live in that relationship with himself that he won for us through his death and resurrection. Without it we are left wondering why we are downcast and unseeing.



Even worse today, we seem to have this idea that we do not even need to look to the Scriptures and to worship regularly, to know who Jesus is and what he is like. We don’t need to read the Bible and hear what he says in worship, to know what is important for us and for our lives. So Jesus becomes a figment of our imaginations and a god to our own liking.



We have this basic idea that we are good people who have been created in God’s image and so we can have this innate idea of who God is and what he is like, so we are fine. We however fail to come to grips with the reality that because of our sin we are turned in on ourselves and the image of God in us has been totally corrupted.



The Scriptures make all of this very clear. It helps us to see quite clearly why we have all the troubles, difficulties and death that we have in this world. It tells us who this God is, that deep down inside us we all know is there. It also tells us of his love for us and the deep desire that he has to help us out of the mess that we have made for ourselves.



Throughout the Bible God tell us of his plan to help us out. He promised over and over again that he would send his own Son to be our saviour. He promised the Lamb of God would come to be the sacrifice which takes away the sin of the world. He promises through this One’s death and resurrection he would draw people back to himself. Forgiveness of sins, life and salvation would be extended to all.



The Scriptures make it quite clear that the Christ had to suffer and die and then three days later rise again. Jesus death on the cross was critical for our salvation. He had to be punished for all that you and I had done wrong, so that full forgiveness could be extended to each and every one of us. His death then ensures that each and every one of us has been forgiven.



So we are now already forgiven for all of our sin: nothing now stands in our way from being with God in heaven. His resurrection is our assurance that life and salvation is now there for all who are connected to Jesus Christ through faith. Just as he is risen from the dead, so also will we rise to be with him in eternity.



All this has been made known to us in the Scriptures so that we can know for sure that Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection is all important for us. Jesus is revealed to us clearly so that we can be certain of who he is and what his attitude is toward us.



At our baptisms we were joined to Jesus’ death and resurrection and given his Holy Spirit so that we can now simply trust that everything has been taken care of for us. Now we know that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.



Then to top it all off, he comes to us personally week by week and reveals himself to us in Holy Communion. The two disciples in our reading suddenly came to the full realization of who Jesus really was when he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.



Here was something unique to the Jesus who celebrated the Passover with them a few nights earlier. In that meal he instituted the Lords Supper by taking the bread, giving thanks, breaking it and giving it them. There he gave them something as a continuing reminder of not only his death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, but also of his presence with them always.



In the Lord’s Supper he personally comes to us and reveals himself to us. He gives us his very body and blood which he shed on the cross so that we can know for sure that we are forgiven and assured of life and salvation. Jesus himself says, given and shed FOR YOU, for the forgiveness of sins. There at the Altar rail he reveals himself to us as Lord and saviour and goes with us so that we can be absolutely sure that everything will work out for us.



It is true! The Lord has risen. Let us go forward with confidence and the sure hope, that now, in connection with Jesus Christ, we have all that is good and important. The Scriptures and the Sacraments has revealed it all to us. He is for real! He lives and rules eternally. To him alone then be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.

He is risen! He is risen indeed!



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish