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We live in Flannery O’Connor’s “Christ-haunted South.” It’s easy to become inoculated to the gospel, as we’re constantly taking in bits and pieces of Christianity all around us. The gospel–what Jesus did and does for us in it–can easily get reduced to a set of correct beliefs or behaviors. Times of personal dryness, bitterness, passivity, even cynicism can result.
What’s the solution? A fresh look at the real thing.
In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul unpacks the gospel in a way we’re not used to hearing. There’s no weak, insipid version of God’s good news here. The gospel, God’s gospel, is the righteousness of God being revealed. It’s for believers. And it’s for the rest of the world, too.
Why is the gospel mainly about God’s righteousness being revealed? Because God’s wrath is being revealed. Romans 1:18-32 is a hard-hitting indictment against the non-believing world. Sin is, at the core, an exchange of the glory of God for lesser, created things. Any disorder that we see in the world, even the disordering of our sexual affections, is about the exchange of God for something else.
Lest the religious world should begin to feel smug about their successful behavior modification techniques, Romans 2 is an indictment against sin in the believing world as well. “Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?” All the advantages of having high moral standards are of no advantage at all if we can’t live up to them perfectly.
Paul goes on to deftly demonstrate that the whole world—religious or irreligious, Jew or Greek—is guilty of profound sin and justly under the wrath of God. He spends three chapters arguing like an Apostle, not willing to let anyone off the hook with a superficial diagnosis of our core problem. The heart of our problem is the problem of our heart, and a superficial diagnosis would only lead to a superficial remedy.
In what feels like a breath of fresh air, after much talk of sin, wrath, and judgement, we arrive at Romans 3:21 “But now the righteousness of God is being revealed…” We read why Jesus really had to die, and we feel it. In the gospel, God gives to us what He demands from us: His righteousness. By punishing sin in Jesus, God’s justice is vindicated. He gets all the wrath; we get all the grace. And we get justification—righteousnessification.
This justification—sin forgiven and righteousness applied—is ours by faith. Romans 4 proves, through the example of Abraham, that there’s no possible way to earn or get righteousness credited to us apart from believing on Jesus. Paul goes to great lengths, in his most systematic and comprehensive letter ever written, to develop for us the doctrine of justification by faith.
In Romans 5 and 6 (where we’re currently positioned in our Christian-Education study), we begin to plumb the depths of the spiritual blessings of the gospel. We see that the gospel of God’s righteousness credited to us is, like Jerry Bridges says, “not just the ABC’s of the Christian life, but all of the Christian life.” The gospel means we have peace with God, hope in suffering, and grace that super-abounds over our sin.
There’s more to Romans. Much more. It’s an exciting letter to read and be transformed by together. We hope you and your family will join us this Sunday morning at 9:15 in the Fellowship Hall.
What are Redeemer folks saying about the study of Romans?
From Kyle Babb:
Romans has been a great way to throw us off of our proverbial high horse of self-righteous pride and into a reliance upon the complete work of Christ. How unfathomable and incredible it is that God would take us—objects predisposed to His wrath through our rebellion—and use us as objects on which to pour out His righteousness. In this New Year, hopefully, we can proclaim, as Paul, that we are bondslaves of Christ, rather than servants of ourselves.
Throughout the month of December, Redeemer collected many donations for Without Walls Ministry’s Birthday Party for Jesus held Christmas Day at The Citadel’s Johnson Hagood Stadium. We contributed shoeboxes of small gifts for the many children in attendance, hams that were served for the Christmas feast, and bicycles for needy children.
Without Walls Ministry is about “taking the love of Jesus outside the four walls of the church by meeting the needs of the community through physical and spiritual outreach. Ultimately, it is meeting needs and saving souls in a mission field right in our own backyard.”
Redeemer is privileged to participate in these events. Our own Thomas Szymanski said he’s enjoyed participating in past events because “there are a lot of opportunities for prayer, including people asking you to pray for them. There’s a lot of candid discussion, plenty of bonding, and a great sense of God’s presence in the work being done…a real love and passion expressed by those hosting and participating in the event.”
For the Redeemer folks who helped make this event happen, here’s a special thank-you letter from Pastor Gordon Cashwell of Without Walls Ministry.
All of us at Without Walls ministry just want to say thank you for your help with the bicycles for the Jesus Birthday Party. Please know that many smiles will be on the faces of the children because of your generous donation. THANK YOU very much! We thank you, for the great gift you gave us. It is well received and appreciated. Thank you!
Keep your eye on the weekly Email Blast that will highlight the next outreach event and specific ways to participate.
Our annual Christmas party inspired the kid in everyone–with many performances by our adorable children and some “kids at heart.” After delicious plates of party food, we set up impromptu rows of chairs for the performances. Five-year-old Joe Works started us out with some memorized Scripture and a mini sermon (as his mama encourages him with a hand-hold).
Our children (ages 2-6) enthralled us with some Christmas songs including Joy to the World, Deck the Halls, and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
Some of our “big kids” were conscripted to hula-dance to Mele Kalikimaka.
And no Redeemer Christmas party would be complete without crowd-favorite bagpipes!
At Redeemer’s annual Christmas party, the church gathers as one big family with plenty of delicious eats, adorable kids, and rockin’ entertainment by musicians of all ages and stages of accomplishment. Whether you’ve been to our last 14 Christmas parties or you’re new to the Redeemer family, we want you to join us for this year’s celebration Sunday, December 15 at 6 pm in the Fellowship Hall.
Our Fellowship Hall transforms into a festive party spot. Bring finger foods to share, and come celebrate Christmas with your church family. Then pull up a chair and get ready to clap your hands for the entertainment portion of the party. Anyone is welcome to share their musical or other stage talent–even bagpipers! Contact Will Hunter to be included in the evening’s program.
Whether it was the lure of delicious chili and cornbread or the bare Christmas tree still wrapped up this past Sunday, lots of volunteers came Wednesday night to help decorate the sanctuary. Eager volunteers filled their bellies before heading over to hang garlands and bows, string white lights, and decorate the tree with newly made chrismons.
Lots of kids came to lend a hand–and add to the joyful chaos of Christmas decorating.
After the men got the tree situated in the stand, the tree started to look like a Christmas tree.
Worship with us on Sunday to see the finished tree!
Redeemer’s Christmas tree was lassoed in the field, bound up, and sawed down.
We hauled it to Charleston, and now it needs adornment! Tonight is the night to decorate the tree with our newly crafted chrismons and hang the garlands and bows around the balcony. Bring your little ones to help decorate!
Join us at 6 pm in the Fellowship Hall for a chili potluck supper and fellowship. Bring chili, cornbread, or a dessert to share, as we celebrate Advent together. After we’ve enjoyed chili and fixin’s, we’ll head to the sanctuary where we’ll need many hands to help transform the sanctuary with Christmas decorations.
Join us this Sunday, December 1 for the first Sunday of Advent. We’ll partake of the Lord’s Supper as a church family, since it’s the first Sunday of the month. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the songs we’ll be singing to help prepare your hearts and your families for worship. And, the new children’s Christian-Ed. series begins this Sunday!
Since Sunday, December 1 begins the advent season, Redeemer’s children’s ministry will break from the fall series to explore Truth in the Tinsel, an advent experience for little hands. This four-week study for young children will focus on your child’s discovering that Jesus is the best present of all!
December 1: Jesus Is the Light of the World!
Focusing on Isaiah 9, students will discover why Jesus had to come as a baby into our dark world. They will learn to focus on His light this Christmas season.
December 8: Nothing Is Impossible with God!
Students will learn the story of Zechariah and Mary, how both of them had a special announcement from an angel but how they reacted differently. At the end of this lesson, kids will be able to face their problems with the knowledge that with God all things are possible!
December 15: Make Room in Your Heart for Jesus!
This week focuses on the traditional Bible story and manger scene. Kids will learn to make room in their hearts and lives for Jesus this Christmas, just like the innkeeper made room for baby Jesus in his stable.
December 22: Jesus is the Best Gift!
Children will discover that Jesus is a gift to the whole world regardless of age or stature. They will celebrate Jesus’ birth and have the opportunity to invite Jesus into their own lives.
Have your children join us at 9:15 on Sunday mornings for learning and fun through songs, Scripture memorization, and storytelling to teach the real Christmas story. If you’re looking for additional advent activities for your young children, the ebook with the daily activities corresponds with the weekly lessons they’ll be exploring during the Christian-Ed. hour and Children’s Church.
Families and crafters gathered at Redeemer this past Saturday, November 23 to make the meaningful, symbolic ornaments called chrismons that will decorate our Christmas tree. After using borrowed chrismons for the past six years, we decided it was high time to make our own ornaments. But who knows how to make chrismons?
Enter some dear women from Advent Lutheran who were friendly and knowledgeable about all things chrismon. These dear women were instrumental in helping our church purchase our buildings, and they knew we’d need help creating our own chrismon collection. Not only did they share their knowledge of symbolic ornaments, but they also brought a bunch of their extra chrismons to help fill out our tree.
This kid-friendly event attracted lots of little hands wanting to dig in to the glue, glitter, and sequins.
A special thanks to Addo, Redeemer’s ministry to the arts community, for organizing this event!
Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord!
The building committee members have had a busy three days since our congregational meeting on Sunday. We’ve seen the Lord provide in AWESOME ways these last several days–including a $150,000 pledge! We’re excited to announce that we closed this afternoon on our historic church buildings. We’re now proud owners of 43 Wentworth and thrilled to have a more permanent home in downtown Charleston! Praise the Lord with us at his goodness to his people and his provision–beyond all we can ask or imagine!