Several weeks ago, Jeff Schatz communicated to the congregation that Consistory had resolved to investigate starting a Classical Christian School in the Hub building. Since that time, many have asked what a Classical Christian School is and how it might look different from a “normal” school. This month, I thought it might be helpful to describe some of the characteristics of the Classical Christian School model. In the simplest terms, Classical Christian Schools seek to create young men and women who understand and who are able to engage with the world around them. They do this by seeking to learn and master knowledge, remaining rooted to the best instruction which has been given through history, and helping children understand the way that they are to bring the Scriptures to bear on every aspect of life.
No doubt, many of you upon reading such a description of a Classical Christian School will see parallels with your own education whether that was public, private, Christian or homeschooling. The truth is, the so called Classical model of education was used throughout most of history. Approximately 100 years ago states began to slowly move away from this sort of education. The longer ago we went to school, the more likely our own education reflects a Classical Education.
Earlier I presented three characteristics of a Classical Christian School, and I would like to develop them a little further. These school seek to have students learn knowledge and master it. More often than not schools currently seek to have the students learn skills rather than knowledge. Here is one simple example. Often, students are no longer required to learn their multiplication tables. Instead, they are expected to learn how to use a calculator from which they can easily derive six times seven. While it is important for kids to understand how to use a calculator, it is even more important for them to understand how numbers work and the way they relate to one another. It is difficult to be an effective engineer if you continually have to check your calculator to be sure that eight times zero is in fact zero.
Proverbs 16:31 says, A GREY HEAD IS A CROWN OF GLORY; IT IS FOUND IN THE WAY OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. Normally I quote this verse to myself when I notice a new grey hair in the morning as I shave. However, the implications of this proverb are far more significant. There is value in godly experience and wisdom. There is value in “older” things. This is not because older is better. Rather it is because of the vast stores of information that have been gained through the generations. Classical Christian Schools look to history from ancient through middle to modern to seek out topics of study and ways of learning in order to help students understand the world around them. For this reason, Classical Christian Schools often expect their students to memorize wisdom from ancient sources in order to help them engage in the world both past and present.
The outcome of all of this preparation in the life of a Classical Christian School is for the school to help students understand the Scriptures and apply them to every aspect of life. Part of the reason why I feel so very strongly about starting a Classical Christian School is the way it connects to the life and ministry of Leidy’s Church. We are a body of Christians who are seeking to humbly apply God’s Word (and I mean all of God’s Word) to every aspect of our lives. This is the same end to which a Classical Christian School operates.
I am not going to lie, starting a school will be a whole lot of work for our congregation. There are many hurdles ahead as we contemplate what such a school would look like and bring it before you for your consideration. However, if Leidy’s Church is able to start a Classical Christian School, then I believe its effects for God’s kingdom in the shaping of the hearts and minds of young men and women will far outlive all of us who are now seeking to start it. Please join me in praying for our Consistory and those advising on the best way to proceed.
VBS – The Creator & Designer
Psalm 19 tells us to consider the heavens the work of the Lord’s hands. Truly the Lord is a God of great imagination and awe inspiring wonder. When Christians look around, they often see and hear created beauty in every imaginable place. This summer’s VBS will be an exploration into the God who made us and His great purposes for us.
Come and join us June 20-24 as we seek to proclaim the gospel to kids (Kindergarten through 5th grade) all around the neighborhood. As we love the kids of Souderton, Telford, Franconia and beyond, we are going to need a whole heap of help in setting up, feeding, cleaning, and tearing down. If you would like to help, please contact the church email@example.com to let us know or go to https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080A48ACAD2EA46-leidys.
From the Pastor of Youth & Children
My father is a teacher. Actually, he is a teacher who is disguised as a golf professional. The result of this fact for my brother and me is a youth spent on the golf course learning life lessons through the lens of our shared passion. Looking back, I can say I am amazed at the breadth of topics he covered while on the course. I remember one particular evening in the fall of my freshman year of high school. My dad had been asking about my school day, and when I started to speak about that day’s geometry lesson, he asked me how the Pythagorean Theorem could be used on the golf course. As the Pythagorean Theorem dealt with calculating the long side of a triangle from the two shorter sides, I was struggling to answer him. He took pity on me and said you can use it to figure out how far you have to hit your shot. It didn’t seem to matter to him that trying to calculate 167 times 167 in your head might be something that would be difficult as the sun dropped over the horizon and I was still looking for my ball.
When my dad has a student with him on the golf course, he is trying to help that student not only understand the game of golf, but also to understand life more generally. Many times those two topics collide. Golf, being a game of constant struggle, produces times of struggle and strife even among the closest of families. After all, there is always something new to work on and figure out. One day, my brother who is a good player, found himself under a tree and hit a poor shot towards the green. My father gently encouraged him to keep his head still. For a golfer it is one of the basic fundamental maxims that “He who looks up sees a bad shot.” My brother responded by saying that he should not have to think of such simple thoughts in his golf swing. In essence he had advanced beyond such mundane realities. My dad gently reminded him that in golf you are never so advanced that you can forget the basics of keeping your head still.
Christian faith, like golf, has certain basic truths which must always be present. There is no getting past them or seeking to get around them. We could spend many hours reflecting on the truths of the Scriptures, but for now I want to highlight two of these fundamental, bedrock, and essential truths to Christian living. What exactly are people who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ supposed to do? Jesus tells us as He summarizes the Law of God. He says, YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. He goes on to say that there is another commandment like that first one. It says, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.
Jesus summarizes the Law saying that Christians are to love the Lord and love one another. Those are two fundamentals that Christians can never forget. We also ought not try to work around them. You may well wonder how a Christian could do that? The answer is quite simple. We love the Lord on our terms. We love the Lord as we define love. The Scriptures do not have that in mind. Instead we are to love the Lord as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures. The same goes for loving others. We are to love others by doing what is right or best for others without reference to ourselves with God defining what is right or best. That is a challenging reality. It means we must be humble toward one another even as we are humble before the Lord. It means that we also need to in love correct others as they go astray. That is the same thing the Lord does for us through His Word. Just like a game of golf will never be successful unless the player learns to keep his head steady, so also life will not be well lived unless we love the Lord and our neighbors.
To the praise of His glory,
Old Names, New News
There are some emerging details of significant life developments among some folk with a history at Leidy’s Church. You may be interested.
First, Janet Rowe was a long-time Leidy’s Church member who now resides in southern Florida. She’s was known to be a great ringer in our bell choir. She also does a great job in singing the Auctioneer Song. Janet is a great clarinet and horn player. She does a great job with the bass guitar with the worship team at her church in Florida. She was a great teacher’s aide in the Pennridge School District. Now, however, she has added a new dimension to her greatness. Her granddaughter Zippy recently gave birth to a daughter – Frieda Niamh Danae – which means that Janet is now a Great Grandmother! Janet is delighted to add this new element to her greatness. Just in case you’re interested.
Second, Pastor Andrew Edmonds, who served for almost a decade on the staff of Leidy’s Church, has been called as Associate Pastor at Hills Bible Church in the southeastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. He resigned his position as Youth Ministries Director with the Presbyterian Church of Victoria as of April 7 and will be commissioned to his new position on May 1. Hills Bible Church is a Reformed Baptist congregation. Pastor Andrew’s duties will include supporting and assisting the Lead Pastor in equipping the various groups in the congregation to be making, maturing, and multiplying disciples of Jesus Christ. He will be part of the faithful preaching of God’s Word and will help lead disciples in ministry both inside and outside of the local body.
Global Disciples Update
2022 featured a fast start for Global Disciples’ Annual Equipping events. Held at various locations around the globe, from January 18th through April 8th there were 61 completed Annual Equipping events. At each event Program Directors from around the globe gather for training and encouragement. It is amazing to hear the many testimonies of the manifestation of the power of God to heal and deliver. Those testimonies fan the flame of multiplication of disciple-makers and fellowships, especially in hard-to-reach areas.
A recent such event was held for the first time with leaders from four restricted countries in northern Africa. There was a very clear word from the Lord to “Go North” into the extremely hard-to-reach areas in the 10-40 window. Those leaders will face potentially severe persecution. Yet they are determined to make disciples even in places where such is the case.
Two leaders from Chad and Niger whom we can pray for are Daniel and Barnabas. They will be traveling into dangerous areas in those northern regions. Some trainees from Chad and Niger will accompany them. Pray for the Holy Spirit to open the way before them by opening hearts and doors ahead of them.
Also continue to pray for other training events to be held throughout the remainder of 2022. The fields are white unto harvest, indeed.
Holiness Study Group
Lent is over, but we pray the lessons learned in the book Holiness remain with you for many years to come. In fact, we will wager that some of your thoughtful reflections on the book will help others who have read the book and continue to wrestle with how to live lives of holiness in 2022. To that end, come and join us on May 15 at 4:00 in Room 123 for a time of discussion about the book and how it might impact your life. Please contact Pastor Michael if you have any questions.
We Need Your Help!
We need more Children’s Church volunteers! This is a great opportunity to get to know the youngest ones in our church! Volunteers rotate on a 2 month schedule. In order to volunteer, you’ll need to submit your clearances to the church office. They are quick, easy and free to do online.
For more information or to sign up as a volunteer, please contact Meghann Permar at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Precept Pot-Luck Dinner
Please join us in celebration of all that our Lord of Hosts has done through the powerful study of the book of Samuel.
An evening to share a testimony, share a dish that you didn’t get to bring all-year-long and be blessed among sweet fellowship.
It happens on Thursday, May 19th at 6 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall.
Leidy’s Lunch Bunch
Leidy’s Lunch Bunch is back! Tuesday, May 24th at 11:30 is the date and time. This is for anyone who is a senior. The theme is celebrating Memorial Day. We will be serving a picnic meal. Also making a return is the Hymn Sing with Nelda Metzler at the piano. A free-will offering will be taken.
Look for a sign-up sheet in the Narthex by the elevator. Please RSVP by May 17th. So, come out and join us as we start up again with fellowship and entertainment.
Business & Professional Breakfast
The spring BMCE Business & Professional Breakfast is slated for Thursday, May 12th. Held at the banquet facility of the Franconia Heritage restaurant, it begins at 6:30. A full buffet of hot breakfast foods will be available. Everyone will be on their way to their daily duties by 8 at the latest.
The speaker this spring is Jay Gordon, Associate Pastor at Grace Mennonite Church in Lansdale. Jay will share his personal testimony, including how after a 25-year career in publishing, he sensed a call to ministry in his mid-40s. Career change! Now Jay has the extraordinary privilege of serving in the congregation he grew up in. His job description at Grace focuses primarily on community outreach. For the past 12 years he has given leadership to Grace’s Upward Flag Football league, helping to promote the discovery of Jesus through sports. Jay also works part-time at Dock Mennonite Academy, where he helps oversee communications, including managing the website and publishing of the Lamplighter magazine. In his spare time Jay loves to cook and has always dreamed of having a restaurant . . . at the beach. He also loves (and loves complaining about) the Eagles, Sixers, Phillies, and Flyers.
Tickets for the breakfast are available from the church office, from Jack Parry or from John Niederhaus. Cost of individual tickets (ready for some inflation?!) is $17, but you can eat as much as you desire, it’s a buffet.
Honoring Mom; Helping Moms
Though not part of the church calendar, Mother’s Day is observed the second Sunday of May across the United States. Leidy’s Church families eagerly participate in honoring their mothers. This year a new twist is being put on Mother’s Day by the Mission Committee.
An effective way to honor mom while at the same time helping moms, is to participate in the Special Offering to be received on Mother’s Day. The offering will go to Life Turning Point Philadelphia. This ministry provides housing and direct biblical teaching and life skills for homeless single moms with children. Rita Whitaker heads this ministry and spoke at Leidy’s Church the first Sunday of March as part of Missions Month.
All monies received are to be used for furthering this ministry to moms who find themselves in exceedingly difficult situations, but who are intent on turning to the Lord Jesus for help and direction. Moms are helped by discovering the lessons of living taught in Scripture and being taught how to apply them in the real situations of life.
To be part of this initiative to honor mom and to help moms, use a Second Mile offering envelope and mark it “Helping Moms.” Our gifts will bear much fruit in the lives of moms and their children.
Ladies of Leidy’s
Inviting all ladies to join us on Tuesday evening May 3rd at 7pm in room 123.
If you have never attended a meeting, please join us. If you rarely miss a meeting, we look forward to seeing you. If you are new to the church, come join us and get to know some ladies within the fellowship of the church.
A member from the board of The Worm Project will be coming to speak to us. Come hear about this all-volunteer Christian organization that buys medicine to treat children infected with parasitic worms in the poorest countries of the world and distribute it.
Brass Band Concert
The Penn View Brass Band will be performing at Leidy’s Church on Sunday, May 1st at 7:00 p.m.
The British-style brass band will perform seasonal favorites, classics, and popular tunes.
The band is made up of 25 brass players playing cornets, a flugelhorn, tenor horns, baritone horns, euphoniums, trombones, and two sizes of tubas. Three percussionists provide the pulse and punctuation, and the organ will round out the majestic sounds of the season. Admission is free but a free-will offering will be taken.
Does worship present the gospel and the ways the Word of God speaks to the wider Christian experience? To say it another way, does your worship of God engage all of life’s ups and downs? On June 9th, Leidy’s Church will be hosting an Indelible Grace concert and story tour. The purpose is to help us understand how we can worship the Lord in all the circumstances of life. Whether our emotions run hot or cold, excited or mellow, or anything in between we are called to be a people who worship the Lord. Come and hear as Indelible Grace helps us understand what it means to worship the Lord through song no matter where in life we are.
While the concert is going to be at 7:00 p.m., we will start the family friendly evening off at 6:00 with a meal. Childcare will be provided, so invite your friends and family to come and enjoy an evening of fun fellowship, fantastic food, and wonderful worship. While it will be a free event, we will be taking donations for food and other expenses.
What a Wonderful Change in My Life has been Wrought Since . . .
As we pray for the Gospel Gleanings program day by day, we cannot but wonder what effect it is having – if any. The testimonies of the 12 Church Planters are interesting, but not world shattering. Yet God is using them. This month’s example is Mr. G. Naveen. He’s only 21 years old and was baptized less than two years ago. His testimony is in another article in this Newsletter. Below, however, is a testimony of how God has used him in a very specific household. Read this powerful account of what happened.
My name is K. Balanagaiah. I am from Ramanjaneyapuram village (we would call it Elroy in PA Dutch!). I was living as a Hindu. We offer sacrifices to Hindu gods and goddesses. We worship idols. We live our life as daily coolies. We are living in difficulties with sickness and financial struggles.
Mr. G. Naveen, Pastor, came one day to our village with books and pamphlets about Jesus Christ. He kept coming repeatedly to our village. We strongly opposed his coming to our village along with others. But slowly we invited him to our family as we realized our problems were increasing by many folds and never having peace in our lives.
We spent a day and night in prayer with Pastor Naveen and came to know that Jesus as the real Savior and salvation is only through him. I along with my husband believed in Jesus and word of God and took baptism. We began to realize our difficulties were slowly vanishing from our lives and began to experience peace in our family.
It is through Pastor Naveen that we were able to hear the Word of God and accept it and receive Jesus Christ as personal Savior. Thanks to this wonderful Pastor. It is highly appreciated.
Though we suspect that Mrs. K. Balanagaiah never heard of the hymn Since Jesus Came Into My Heart, there’s no question that she is singing that tune! What a joy to read her testimony. When you pray each day for the 12 Church Planters working among the Erukula people, that’s the very sort of thing for which you’re praying even though you don’t know it. We ask God to use them. God does! The result: an entire family is changed forever. Praise be to God!
Help for Ukrainians
The Mission Committee is sponsoring a special offering on Sunday, May 22nd. The purpose is to provide help to hurting folk in Ukraine. Working through Love Cradle, a Ukrainian based ministry, funds received will be administered through the connection of Baptist churches in Ukraine. These churches are familiar with the distresses and devastations of those in their particular areas of ministry. Hence, the aid given will be more like sighted-in rifle shots than broad based shotgun blasts.
Please use a Second Mile offering envelope and mark it “Help for Ukraine.” We hope that funds received will be available for use on the ground in Ukraine early in June.
The week of May 8th is when our Gym will be transformed with all the donated items we have received, and our community is invited to shop for their family wardrobes, linens, jewelry, books, toys, household items, and much more!
The Big “R” Sale actually takes place on Wednesday and Thursday, the 11th and 12th, but much work is done before then as well. Here’s when workers are needed:
- On Monday & Tuesday from 9am to 8pm items are unpacked and arranged.
- On Wednesday (9am to 8pm) we need friendly workers to bag items, serve as cashiers, and straighten items as many shoppers come to make their purchases.
- On Thursday (9am to 6pm) we need the same sorts of workers as Wednesday. This features bags of goods for only $2, quite an attractive deal.
- On Thursday at 6pm we need willing hands and strong backs to transform our facilities back for ministry before Sunday.
Mary Beth Musselman has a schedule she needs to fill, so be sure to speak with her if you can be plugged in at any time to help. Also you can check our churches weekly newsletter to volunteer on-line.
The funds raised at the Big R are disbursed where needed at Leidy’s Church and in our community by Ladies of Leidy’s. It’s a big undertaking, and with your help we can make it another great event.
On Wednesday April 6, 2022, the Consistory of Immanuel Leidy’s Church met. Ken Merritt and Peter Martindell were absent. The following are a summary of its minutes. Pastor Tony opened the meeting with a devotion centered on Colossians 3 examining the Word of God and the peace of Christ. Minutes were reviewed and accepted. Staff and committee reports were submitted.
HUB Lease Report: In light of the ongoing work to determine the feasibility of a Classical Christian School, Consistory discussed possible tenants for the short-term use of the building to provide revenue to offset the ongoing building costs. A few groups had been approached and showed various levels of interest. This is an ongoing matter for prayer.
Wicking Report: The treatment has been fully applied and Penn Builders is waiting for the treatment to cure before painting over the effective surfaces. This will likely happen in just the next few weeks.
Classical Christian School: John Mark Niehls, the headmaster of Coventry Classical Christian School in Pottstown presented to Spiritual Council and Consistory jointly on March 26th. After that he toured the facility with a Small Steering Committee (Pastor Tony Jones, Dana Gehman, Peter Martindell, Sarah Nowling, Shaun Permar, Jeff Schatz, Gina Shoemaker, and Susan Slack). He was impressed with the facilities and shared various options regarding how to start a school. One possibility is to establish a second campus of Coventry. Mr. Niehls communicated that his board would need to approve such an action to even think of that as a possibility. More details to come.
Task Groups and the Re-organizing of Consistory Committees: Pastor Tony summarized some of his assessment of our church which is the fruit of his own observations and conversations with many members, members, deacons, and elders. He communicated two broad categories of action designed to both increase Leidy’s Church numerically and increase Leidy’s Church’s spiritual maturity. The first task force is tasked with evaluating the ministries and committees of the church to seek to invite new folks to the church. The second task force is tasked with evaluating the ministries and committees of the church to ensure that the spiritual needs of the congregants are being met and that this church is a place of spiritual flourishing for all peoples.
Logo: A new logo has been unveiled. It is an open book (the Word of God) which bears fruit. This is the Word of God which goes out from the Lord and does not return void. In order to represent the Word of God, a plant is depicted as growing out from this open Bible. Keep your eye open for its use in all sorts of locations!
The meeting closed in prayer at 10:37.
Usher Captains: John DiLenge, Shaun Permar
Ushers: Dave Doran, Bob Hager, Lucas VanDerbeek, Christian Rau, John Rittenhouse, Brody
Keeth, Mitchell VanDerbeek, Phoenix Smith, Alex Hager, Ben Smith, Tom Leidy, T. Dale Leidy, Larry Anders.
It’s time to mulch!
On Saturday, May 14th, from 8 am to 12 noon, all willing helpers are invited to come and enjoy the outdoors while helping the Property Committee spruce up our property with fresh mulch. Bring along a wheelbarrow and/or a shovel if you can. Please see Kendall Musselman if you have questions.
More Guys You’ll Want to Meet
Many members of Leidy’s Church pray regularly for the Erukula, an Unreached People Group in India. We are undergirding spiritually the labors of 12 Church Planters who are working among them. As was the case the past two months, this month we’ll introduce three of those Church Planters. We introduce them by stating their name, age, and marital status. Following that, we simply print their testimony as each fellow wrote about his walk with the Lord. These men are committed to working full time among the Erukula people. Here are the three for May:
- Mr. P.V.E. Sundar raj is a single 26-year-old man. He was baptized in October of 2016 and since that time has been actively involved in ministry. His testimony is different from most of the other fellows. Here’s part of what he writes: I am P.V.E. Sundar raj and I have two siblings. Even though my father is a pastor I was not listening to his words. After facing many bad situations, I decided to work for God. After that I use to share all my experiences with God to other members. After that I left my job completely and joined as a Sunday School teacher at Hebron Gospel Church. I took baptism in 2016 and am happy and honored to serve God since then.
- Mr. B Pujalaiah is 36 years old, married, and the father of two sons. He was baptized in 2017. He also comes from a Christian background. Here’s his account: I am B. Pujalaiah and before I got married I used to be just a nominal Christian. After I got married I came to know about Jesus Christ through my wife. I came across a speech about God through my father-in-law and accepted Jesus Christ as my own savior. I took baptism on August 14, 2017. Since then I’ve developed a strong desire to give my time for preaching the Word of God. I am honored to work as God’s servant.
- Mr. G. Naveen is an unmarried young man of 21 years of age. He was baptized in January of 2021. He does not say anything about his religious background but does tell the character of his life. I am G. Naveen and am 21 years old. I used to be so careless in my life. One fine day a pastor named Vijayakumar came to me and addressed me about God. Then I started attending prayers in churches and public meetings. After knowing everything about God, I took baptism in January of 2021. I want to know the Bible in depth and preach from it to the village people. I am blessed to be able to do so through the School of Evangelism program.
These three men during the first three months of their service among the Erukula people have contacted 521 adults and 474 children. Of the persons they’ve contacted, 17 have become seekers and 12 have asked Christ to be their Savior. Of those 12, two have taken the bold step of baptism and nine more indicated they desire to do so. They have established four prayer cells/mini churches. Praise God for the faithful ministry of these men and the fruit He is bringing forth through them. Read another article in this Newsletter to find out about one of the persons Mr. G. Naveen contacted – you’ll find it most interesting!
All this is happening as a result of our Gospel Gleanings program of two and half years ago! We cannot go among the Erukula people; these guys can and do! Let’s remember to pray for the 12 Church Planter every day. They have challenges and opportunities that will benefit from our prayers.
New City Catechism
Question 19: Is there any way to escape punishment and be brought back into God’s favor?
Yes, to satisfy his justice, God himself, out of mere mercy, reconciles us to himself and delivers us from sin and from the punishment for sin, by a Redeemer.
Isaiah 53:10–11: Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
Commentary – Jonathan Edwards
But is there any thing which Christians can find in heaven or earth, so worthy to be the objects of their admiration and love, their earnest and longing desires, their hope and their rejoicing, and their fervent zeal, as those things that are held forth to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ? In which not only are things declared most worthy to affect us, but they are exhibited in the most affecting manner. The glory and beauty of the blessed Jehovah, which is most worthy in itself to be the object of our admiration and love, is there exhibited in the most affecting manner that can be conceived of, as it appears, shining in all its lustre, in the face of an incarnate, infinitely loving, meek, compassionate, dying Redeemer. All the virtues of the Lamb of God, his humility, patience, meekness, submission, obedience, love and compassion, are exhibited to our view in a manner the most tending to move our affections of any that can be imagined; as they all had their greatest trial, and their highest exercise, and so their brightest manifestation, when he was in the most affecting circumstances; even when he was under his last sufferings, those unutterable and unparalleled sufferings he endured from his tender love and pity to us. There also, the hateful nature of our sins is manifested in the most affecting manner possible; as we see the dreadful effects of them in what our Redeemer, who undertook to answer for us, suffered for them. And there we have the most affecting manifestation of God’s hatred of sin, and his wrath and justice in punishing it; as we see his justice in the strictness and inflexibleness of it, and his wrath in its terribleness, in so dreadfully punishing our sins, in one, who was infinitely dear to him and loving to us. So has God disposed things in the affair of our redemption, and in his glorious dispensations, revealed to us in the gospel, as though every thing were purposely contrived in such a manner as to have the greatest possible tendency to reach our hearts in the most tender part, and move our affections most sensibly and strongly. How great cause have we therefore to be humbled to the dust that we are no more affected!
The movie theater experience just isn’t the same without the lights off. I learned this firsthand when, after the first thirty seconds of Star Wars: The Force Awakens accidently played in a lit theater, three irritated guys stormed out and demanded that the staff turn the lights down. A dark backdrop contrasted against a light image adds volume and drama to the total experience.
We might say that the catechism is set up that way as well. God’s just and righteous judgment against our sin provides the dark backdrop against which the glory of the gospel shines through. After we’ve understood the depth of our calamity, we can better appreciate the true magnitude of God’s rescue plan for us.
The catechism tells us that God freely and mercifully satisfied the demands of his own justice on our behalf. According to Isaiah 53, God made the righteous life of his servant (Jesus Christ) to be a substitutionary offering for the unrighteous. In obedience to God’s will, Jesus Christ lived the life we should have lived and so fulfilled the just requirements of God’s law on our behalf. Yet he also died the death we should have died. Isaiah’s graphic language of the servant being “crushed” and “put to grief” (Isa. 53:10) reminds us of the heavy price of our sin. At the cross, Jesus bore the full weight of God’s curse against sin and so fully satisfied the demands of God’s just condemnation against sin. So we have a righteous life that satisfies the justice of God for us and an atoning death that satisfies the justice of
God for us. This great exchange is the heart of the gospel itself.
Perhaps the most startling aspect of Isaiah’s language is that it “pleased” the Lord to make this exchange. Somehow, it actually pleased the Lord to hand his innocent Son over to be mocked, brutalized, and crucified. That’s a nearly impossible truth to fathom until you realize why God was pleased by this. Certainly, God was not pleased by the sin of Judas who betrayed Jesus, the religious leaders who hated him, Pilate who unjustly sentenced him, or the misguided crowd who rejected him. But God was pleased by the active and passive (through suffering) obedience of his Son, who continued to trust God and love his people no matter the cost. God was pleased to lay his judgment upon the Son in order to save his sinful people. God was pleased because, through the cross, the Son of God would be glorified, the people of God would be saved, the justice of God would be satisfied, and the love of God would be revealed. The cross was not a tragic accident. It was God’s will, his plan to save his people through the work of the Redeemer and to reveal the immeasurable riches of his glorious grace.
Finally, God freely and mercifully made this exchange. The catechism is careful to point out that the cause of God punishing Jesus in order to rescue us was “mere mercy.” The language “mere mercy” means grace alone, grace apart from any other considerations. As the great preacher C. H. Spurgeon famously wrote, salvation is “all of grace.” Although this grace trains us to avoid ungodliness, it does not depend upon our obedience in any way. As we consider the besetting sins and ongoing weaknesses of our lives, we have to cling to the “mere grace” aspect of the gospel. God did not give his beloved Son in view of what he would get out of our lives, but merely because he loves us. Now that’s good news indeed!