This is an exhortation I will be giving my church this morning, leading into a time of confession of sin before God.
This past June Grace Church had a seminar on worship. I gave a biographical sketch on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a German pastor who stood up against the evil darkness that overtook his country during the rise of Adolf Hitler. Because of his boldness his life ended at the end of a rope in a Nazi prison camp.
It was during his time in Tegel prison, on December 25, 1943, that he wrote something that was later published into a book called Letters and Papers From Prison.
“A prison cell like this is a good analogy for Advent. One waits, hope, does this or that- ultimately negligible things- the door is locked and can only be opened from the outside.”
May these two sentences lead us into joyful rest in the all-satisfying work of Jesus Christ. Advent refers to a time of expected waiting. Bonhoeffer sat in his cell day after filthy, cold day hoping to be released. He could do nothing to effect his release. He was powerless under the cold grip of an evil regime that delighted in his misery. Only an outside force could be the determining factor which would set him free.
This morning, you were, or currently are languishing in a prison of sin. The walls are thick. The doors are locked. No human can penetrate them of his own volition. For the Christian, Advent is a hope-filled, expectant time in which we await the coming of our Savior who would set us free from sin.
This Savior set out on a rescue plan that started in the throne of heaven and led to a dirty feeding trough where the Word became flesh. At 33 years old he was abandoned by friends, killed by soldiers, stapled with nails, and hung on wood. All of these people and these materials which played a role in his slaughter were spoked into existence by his very breath.
Now, for us who have repented and turned from our sin and recognized this as the most joyful reality in the universe- we have been set free from that prison of sin. This reality does not fade for the Christian over time. The gospel which saved us from our sin continues to save us from the sin we committed last week, yesterday or this very morning. The gospel which saved us will continue to save us from the sin we commit this coming week.
This exhortation is meant to remind you of the forgiveness we find in the gospel. It is what Paul did for the Corinthians when he wrote, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached (I Corinthians 15:2).” So hold fast to the gospel this morning. Confess your sin to God, for Christian, he has already forgiven you. Unbeliever, repent and confess your sin to God and put your trust in him. He alone has the power to break you from sin addictions which hold you in the constraints of a hopeless prison.
This is the season of Advent. Let us hold fast to King Jesus who holds the keys of death and hell. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!