Struggles. We all have them. Whether the struggles you face are big or small, it's important to remember that these struggles do not define your identity. Our guest is the Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa. Dr. Espinosa is the author of Faith That Sees Through the Culture.
Elizabeth Pittman (11s):
Struggles. We all have them. If you're like me, maybe you just wish they would go away already. Whether the struggles you face are big or small, it's important to remember that these struggles do not define your identity. We're joined by the Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa. We're going to talk about how we can maintain our identity in the face of any struggles we're facing. Pastor Espinosa is senior pastor at st. Paul's Lutheran in Irvine, California. He is also the author of a great book titled Faith That Sees Through the Culture. Welcome
Alfonso Espinosa (1m 0s):
Elizabeth. Thank you for having me. It is a privilege and honor to be here with you, especially on this great topic you've chosen.
Elizabeth Pittman (1m 7s):
Well, it's, it's one that I think is very timely for a lot of people. In fact, this morning, before we started recording, I walked around the office here and I asked a handful of people. What would you like to hear pastor Espenosa address on the topic of struggle? And first they all said how excited they were that we, I got to talk to you today. So they all send their greetings, but to a person, their gut-level reaction was where do I start?
Elizabeth Pittman (1m 38s):
And I think it's so easy when struggles come and we've had no lack of them this year. And it's almost become cliche that, you know, 2020 is a year of struggle and it's, it's easy to get discouraged and overwhelmed when these come our way when we start to feel discouraged, what should we start to remember?
Alfonso Espinosa (2m 0s):
That's a fantastic question. And of course the scriptures are so rich. The scriptures address this in many ways, but I think one of the great reminders is what we learn in the book of Ephesians that puts our struggles in proper context, you know, in, in, in pastoral council or even, you know, traditional therapeutic council or even in engineering.
Alfonso Espinosa (2m 32s):
When, when, when they're trying to figure out how to go forward, we have to identify exactly what we are addressing. What, what exactly is the problem? What, what am I going through? How do I understand it? Because you can't effectively address a problem unless you know what it is you are confronted by. So in, in Ephesians chapter six, just, just a powerhouse chapter that is often associated with the full armor of God we have in that section, Ephesians chapter six, this is what we have at verse 11 and verse 12, just, just a small portion.
Alfonso Espinosa (3m 13s):
In fact, let me throw in verse 10, 10 through 12, "Finally be strong in the Lord. And in the strength of his might put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil." And here's the clincher Elizabeth verse 12, "because our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers against the powers against the world forces of this darkness against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."
Alfonso Espinosa (3m 52s):
So where do we begin? We, we begin with God's perspective. What confronts us is a spiritual confrontation in which we are fully immeshed in. Why? Because not only does this confrontation come from the outside. Now I'm touching on some of the terminology I use for faith that sees through the culture. Not only does it come from the outside, namely, which could Lutheran Christians confess all the time, the world and the devil.
Alfonso Espinosa (4m 22s):
And when we say world, we're talking about not, not the good creation of planet earth, not the beautiful world in terms of how it testifies to the invisible qualities of God, through the things that have been made, Romans chapter one, but rather how the world in its internal workings, in the culture experiences kind of a cosmic gravity or pressure upon us through worldly or evil influences that seek to discourage us into tempt us and draw us away from our faith.
Alfonso Espinosa (4m 57s):
That is an external pressure. Jesus felt this external pressure and the temptation of the devil when he prayed in the garden of disseminate and he started to sweat, blood or blood was in his sweat. <inaudible> his sweat. But in addition, this, this spiritual struggle includes how we, in a way tune in to the external that comes upon us and how we tune in is through our internal sinful nature.
Alfonso Espinosa (5m 28s):
So these three things, identifiable and Holy scripture, our sin, the world, and the devil represents that, which for lack of a better word, attacks us when we are feeling anxiety, pressure, temptation, despair, fear, guilt, shame. I want to give up. I can't take anymore. How much longer is this, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Alfonso Espinosa (5m 58s):
So it helps tremendously that by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the word of God, we recognize what's going on. We know what's happening. Okay. And, and with that clarity, then from there, we can respond according to the word of God. Now, of course, the response in context of Ephesians chapter six is again the full armor of God, but without getting into the six pieces of armor specifically, let me just kind of tell you what they're all focused on all the time in one way or one way or the other.
Alfonso Espinosa (6m 29s):
And what it's focused on is the word of Christ to be fitted, covered everywhere with the word of Christ. We, you know, we, you know, Pharisees kind of get a bad rap in the Bible, but remember not all of them were bad. I mean, Paul was a Pharisee, right? The Joseph <inaudible> honored the Lord and in his grave, Nicodemus came to faith. Those Pharisees had a good practice, kind of stemming back from the book of Deuteronomy, where God admonishes his people to put his word everywhere, put it on your doorposts.
Alfonso Espinosa (7m 7s):
And the Pharisees took it seriously. They had phylacteries these leather cases that they strapped to their arms and to their foreheads. And they contain little scrolls. They were literally walking around with the word of God bound to their bodies.
3 (7m 23s):
I hadn't known that. That's kind of, that's interesting. And the idea is it's fantastic.
Alfonso Espinosa (7m 29s):
You know, people ask me about tattoos. I don't have any tattoos, but when I, when I see a Christian who is real about their faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and they have a tattoo that reminds them of the Lord, Jesus Christ and his word, I go right on, man.
3 (7m 46s):
Okay. So if you were to have a tattoo, what verse would you put up,
Alfonso Espinosa (7m 49s):
Man. That's a great question. That is an awesome question. I think I might lean towards two New Testament scriptures that remind me, at the end of the day, how, how the way we are, we are able to be bold in, in being confronted in the spiritual battle with sin, the world. And the devil is that the blood of Christ has taken upon himself. Our sin, our curse was covered by his blood and by the power of his blood, I have the answer against all of the spiritual attacks to the spiritual battle.
Alfonso Espinosa (8m 31s):
And there are two new Testament scriptures that really kind of cut to the chase and get to the core and get to our power. One of them is second Corinthians chapter five, verse 21 "for God made him who had no sin to be sin for us. So that in him, we might become the righteousness of God." And I love that scripture when Luther was elaborating upon the concept, he talked about the happy exchange or the joyous exchange where Jesus just, he just pulled our sin off of us, put it on himself so that the righteous one became unrighteous as he was on the cross and said, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Alfonso Espinosa (9m 22s):
This was, this was testimony to the fact that the heavenly father accepted the substitutional atonement of his son. Because for a moment he viewed his son as the worst center the world has ever known and gave to us, his righteousness, the unrighteous are now righteous. The substitutionary atonement really comes out in the second, second Corinthians five 21. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us. Then the second is Galatians three 13. I might have to flip a coin in terms of the future tattoo.
Alfonso Espinosa (9m 57s):
There you go for Christ, redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. So then in him, we might become a, as it is written, part of me, I started to skip to the, as it is written, cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree. Jesus. So, so, so my sin and the world and Satan come remember the, the goal of Satan is destruction. He think of Joe, he wants to destroy our bodies.
Alfonso Espinosa (10m 30s):
He wants to destroy our families. And most of all, he wants to destroy our faith. So this battle represents an attack to destroy us. And what we do is we get back to the blood of Christ that covers us. This is what a tone that means. And what are the chapters in the book? I got to talk about the answer to the external attack and the internal attack. I think it's chapter three. It was, I wrote it like a gazillion years ago. It goes like, but, but in this book we just break it down. This is our Christology.
Alfonso Espinosa (11m 0s):
This is our Christ teaching. There's a tone minute propitiation and expiation and redemption and reconciliation. But in all of these fancy words, we're simply getting back to Christ for us, for the sake of Christ. We're covered on account of Christ. We're covered.
Elizabeth Pittman (11m 18s):
You have a great, and I think this is from your chapter on the struggling on the inside. And you've got a section, a paragraph here that I highlighted, and I actually read to a few people here and everybody was said, you know, can we, can we raise our hands and praise because this is it's really good. I'm just going to read it real quick because I thought it just stated it. So directly you say "the challenge is that it is so incredibly easy for us to forget this truth, that the Lord comes for. The overwhelmed, Jesus reaches out his hand to grab the drowning sinner.
Elizabeth Pittman (11m 51s):
We forget. That's what our sinful nature does to us. It causes us to forget and look elsewhere for meaning and salvation, what the world, the devil and our sin have in common is that they engage in the same chaotic strategy, get life to seem so crazy that we no longer see the Lord." When we let struggles define us. I think, you know, Satan's, they're doing a happy dance because he's getting his way and we we've taken our eyes off the prize. Right.
Alfonso Espinosa (12m 15s):
Well, thank you for reminding me that I wrote that I'm sitting here going, I don't even remember writing that. I, you know, wow. I'm just it's okay. Well, this is very, very exciting. And thank you for highlighting that. And it, it takes us back to a Lutheran emphasis, which I think I also discussed in, in that particular book, things are a little blurry, Elizabeth because CPH is preparing the second book to come out a faith that engages a culture.
Alfonso Espinosa (12m 45s):
I'm extremely excited about. Thank you. I thank you for the honor, but I think it's in the first book, I also discussed the theology of the cross and that God works through ways that we would otherwise think it's just all bad. And, and in, in, in those situations, based on empirical senses, we don't see God, God is hiding. We, we, we just don't see him, but, but Luther has this, this marvelous astute in spiritual logic.
Alfonso Espinosa (13m 21s):
If it is true that God works through all things for our good, whether what we are experiencing is something we would consider to be good or considered to be bad. The end result will bless our faith. So part of the theology of the cross is to see his modus operandi. He, he did it when Jesus was born as a baby, the world says, where's God, all I see is a baby. It's just a helpless baby. Where's God. Well, he's there. The creator of heaven and earth is sitting in on Mary's lap.
Alfonso Espinosa (13m 54s):
Jesus goes to the cross of Calvary. He's a dying man, 33 years old on a Roman cross, where is God? He is there crushing the head of Satan. And it goes on to the Holy sacraments, mere water or mere wine by the way, this is the wine we use for communion. I get to show you this. You can see it. It's this Manischewitz, it's very cheap wine, communion wine and people go, well, how can God be in the Manischewitz or in the water?
Alfonso Espinosa (14m 24s):
Right? Well, he did. He's there. And then the fourth, the fourth point is that God, the almighty God maker of heaven and earth is in Elizabeth and in Alfonso. Oh, come on. You see all the problems that these folks have. He's there. And part of that, a theology of the cross tells us that when we are going through those struggles, and this is hard, this is hard for us to accept. But, but, but the scriptures are real.
Alfonso Espinosa (14m 58s):
God permits us to go through those struggles. God permits us to go through the despair. He's not being mean. He's doing us a favor. You know why? Well, among other reasons, we forget all the time. And he lovingly reminds us through those struggles that we really do need him. That's just one of the things he does. The answer to Christian suffering is a multiform. There are multi answers within the scriptures.
Alfonso Espinosa (15m 31s):
There are two reasons given for general suffering, suffering for all people in the world, regardless whether or not they're Christian. One is that sin came into the world and sin coming into the world, causes suffering the second suffering, the consequences of deliberate sin or what we call actual sins, which may or may not be deliberate. Sometimes it's out of weakness. But the point is, is when people commit sin, there are consequences. Those are the two universal reasons for, and I didn't cover this in the book by the way, but those are the two universal reasons for suffering.
Alfonso Espinosa (16m 4s):
But did you know that the scriptures go on to give several more reasons as to why Christians are permitted to suffer. Some people have this imagined idea that, you know, maybe I should become a Christian. Then I can go, go through life without any problems. And I'll have, you know, right. We hear that. We get the idea all the time. What God permits is that we get to carry a cross. We get to be made in the conformity of Jesus. We get to know the loving discipline of a heavenly father.
Alfonso Espinosa (16m 34s):
We get to bear one another's burdens and truly learn what love is. He permits these things. Why not to pick on us? Not to be mean, but to keep us daily calling on his name so that we never forget. And this is why Luther and our great tradition is always emphasizing. Get back to your baptism, get back to your baptism. Live daily in your baptism. Go back, go back, go back. Don't forget. Don't forget. Remember, remember, remember, and keep having Holy communion all the time. So you never forget.
Elizabeth Pittman (17m 6s):
It's so easy for us to forget because the second thing starts to calm down. You know, our attention is gone and it's easy to get away from it. What do you say to the person who has been faced with struggles and are so beaten down by them that they say my faith has gone
Alfonso Espinosa (17m 30s):
For anybody to have an awareness of the distinct thought that my faith is gone, has to innately still know what faith is. Otherwise. It's a nonsensical statement. That is to say, if a person says, I can only see darkness, they are still aware of light. I can also, I can only see a suffering, which means they're still aware of peace.
Alfonso Espinosa (18m 1s):
I don't have faith. Which means they're aware of faith. That is to say these things are still both sides are still a reality for this person. This whole situation reminds me of something that was written about. He was not Lutheran Elizabeth, but the great CS Lewis, a good Anglican wrote a book called The Screwtape Letters. And in that book, he said something profound. You know? So, uncle Screwtape, the advanced demon is writing to wormwood, the minor demon who is assigned to this Christian to do his demonic work upon the Christian.
Alfonso Espinosa (18m 42s):
And when word gets back to uncle Screwtape and says, uncle, I've got some great news, man. I've been working on this Christian. And this Christian is like totally discouraged. They're like down and out there, like giving up on their faith, man. It is so cool. It's amazing. I got them just where I want to write. And Screwtape, the advanced demon says, be careful, be careful. Be careful. Now I'm paraphrasing here. Be careful because the enemy in this case, referring to God is essentially blessing his people more than ever.
Alfonso Espinosa (19m 22s):
When they can stand at the edge of a cold dark universe and God is nowhere to be seen. And yet they continue to believe. And that's when they grow stronger. So I would with great gentleness and we have to be careful. It's not just what we say in these situations, Elizabeth, you out. You're asking a very, very serious question. It's not just what we say. It's how we say it. This why God has given us the opportunity to be alive with people, to embrace them, to love them, to be close to them, to come alongside of them, to weep with those who weep.
Alfonso Espinosa (20m 2s):
This is crucial. This is part of the answer. But in terms of what we say, we have an opportunity to remind them that the stand at the edge of a cold dark universe, where God has nowhere to be seen is not a sign that you've lost your face. It's a call from God to trust in him more than ever before. And to know he's put you in that position to trust in him and to learn the impetus of faith at Cesar the culture.
Alfonso Espinosa (20m 34s):
There was one recurring scripture through the entire book, the single most important scripture, second Corinthians five seven for we walk by faith, not by sight. And one of the lessons here is to know that we filled despair, especially Elizabeth. When we are preoccupied with sight, when the Israelites were at the edge of the red sea, my sister, they looked one way and they saw the chariots of Pharaoh Pharaoh coming upon them were toast game over.
Alfonso Espinosa (21m 9s):
They looked the other way and there was a deep red sea that where they stood. Oh, okay. So on the one hand we can get crushed. On the other hand, we can all drown based on what they saw with their physical eyes. They had every reason to despair. We do that. We do that. We do what the Israelites were doing. We look, and we see where they're physicalized and we go, there are no ways out. There are no options.
Alfonso Espinosa (21m 40s):
I have no hope hopelessness, pervades the soul. And I began to despair. Exodus chapter 14, verse 14. I will fight for, you says the Lord. You need only to be still. So Galatians five 24 Elizabeth delay, you know, you're really good at asking questions, by the way, you're making this fun.
Alfonso Espinosa (22m 19s):
Galatians five. Well, thank you. Let's check this out. This is Galatians five 24 and it's it, it, it, it permits us to pursue this wonderful Lutheran Christian theme, which I just, I just reminds me why. I'm so glad I get to be able to turn verse 24 of Galatians five. Now those who belong to Christ, Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Now it's easy for us to kind of go to, Oh, you know, the, the passion desire to do that really bad moral thing over there, you know, drink too much or whatever.
Alfonso Espinosa (22m 57s):
Okay. But it includes the fleshly tendency to despair, to despair, and whether it's to despair or to do other things that we should not do, what the scriptures are saying. When it comes up, don't massage. It don't dwell on it. And I talked about this in the chapter regarding the duality of old man, new man, the sinful nature, the born again, spirit and I'm. And I'm sharing with the people in this book.
Alfonso Espinosa (23m 27s):
The last book that first of all, this is completely normal. It is not an abnormality. So when you're going through the struggle that causes suffering, because there is a struggle and inner conflict, it doesn't mean that you're getting weaker in your faith or that you're not a Christian much to the contrary. It is a sign that you are a Christian. But the second thing we have to remember is it is no badge of courage for us to treat it in terms of, well, I'm really aware of my conflict.
Alfonso Espinosa (23m 59s):
I'm going through a conflict. I must be really Holy because of the conflict. And we become preoccupied by the conflict itself. No, we take the third step. And the third step is to return to Christ. Go back to Jesus, the author, the finish, the beginning and the end of your faith. When we do in the process, what we're doing is this I'm in the conflict. That conflict stinks. It leads to despair sometimes to hopelessness sometimes.
Alfonso Espinosa (24m 31s):
So what do I do with it? Do I massage it? Do I kind of analyze it? Do I break the chaos down? Do I stare at it all day long? No, it's a violent word. Elizabeth. It's a violent word. We crucify it. Luther took, it, took it from the approach of drowning. It drowning the old Adam, when disparate comes Luther, I keep talking about Luther. How about that? I'm a Lutheran pastor and always talking about Luther.
Alfonso Espinosa (25m 2s):
It's it's crazy. He would describe his confrontations. And when the devil came, attacking him, remember one of the devil's titles, is accuser. You're not a Christian. You don't have any hope. God's abandoned. You're helpless. When Luther was attacked, he wrote about thanking the devil. Thank you for reminding me of all of these accusations, because now you've reminded me to run to Jesus.
Elizabeth Pittman (25m 38s):
That's a great way to think about it. What? So if there's a person that doesn't understand that this conflict is real, it's normal, it's necessary. What kind of problems might that lead to?
Alfonso Espinosa (25m 53s):
Oh boy. Oh, goodness gracious. It leads to disastrous problems. And in, in the book I talk about this. This is why it's so important to understand the conflict itself. This is, this is the Roman seven Galatians five conflict. It's so clear. It's not even funny. Romans seven English in spite of the good, the good that I want to do. I don't do that, which I don't want to do that, which I do. And simple man, that I am, who will save me from this body of death. And of course the downs with thanks, be to God through Christ Jesus, our Lord. He is the answer to, but anyway, if we don't get that struggle, then we go basically one of two places, one of two extremes, one extreme is we go into delusion and we go, I know how to handle this struggle.
Alfonso Espinosa (26m 42s):
I will be a super duper Christian. I will toe the line like crazy. I won't, I won't even have caffeine and tobacco. I won't curse. I won't swear all the faithful there. I'll tie it to the church. I'll be this great external person or whatever you want to call it. But by the way, this, this Decata, I, I, I have to confess to you, Elizabeth. Everything I've written is completely unoriginal to me.
Alfonso Espinosa (27m 14s):
I borrow from everybody. And what I'm this extreme that I'm sharing with you right now is are the two extremes that are depicted in the parable of the prodigal son, which is probably better term the prodigal of the two sons, the one son. And this is the first extreme to answer your question. If we don't get the conflict, this is what happens. The first, the younger son, the younger son was a, Libertine a Libertine the older son was a legalist. What I'm describing to you now is the legalist approach.
Alfonso Espinosa (27m 46s):
I'll just be a super, super good person. And I'll be so good that I will deceive myself. I will dilute myself into thinking that I am responsible for salvation and I'll take comfort in my piety. I'll take comfort in my discipline. I'll take comfort in my delusion. And you know what? It sounds like it's, this just sounds crazy. But I met somebody who point-blank asked me
Alfonso Espinosa (28m 16s):
Actually, that was a vicar. When this happened, I really enjoyed your worship service, but why do you always start with confession and absolution? Isn't a Christian by definition. Someone who knows that they're forgiven well, yeah. Then why are you confessing your sins? Again? This would seem to be an indication of a lack of thing. I asked her about why she took her position and she went to the book of Hebrews, which uses the word, the, the description that we are perfected, but she took it as moral perfectionism being included in the perfection.
Alfonso Espinosa (28m 53s):
I said, wait, wait, wait a minute, hold on a second. Are you telling me that you don't sin anymore? And she said, yes. And I was blown away. And then Elizabeth, for my doctoral dissertation, I worked on the Reverend dr. Tim LaHaye, who went to heaven a couple years ago. And he, you know, him, he's he's, he is the biblical teacher, but behind the left behind series that sold about 80 million copies in the United States of America. But I was interested in its on its impact in terms of American politics.
Alfonso Espinosa (29m 25s):
And more importantly, on the Christian view of sanctification and LA hae had a five level sanctification schema for Christians. The lowest level is a carnal Christian. This person might not be a Christian, but they might be a Christian, but they're constantly compromising and giving into the flesh after the carnal Christian, I'm sorry. The lowest level is called a humanistic Christian. The humanistic Christian might not even be a Christian because they're compromising left and right, the carnal Christian has more of an active conscience against sin, but still permit themselves to give into the flesh.
Alfonso Espinosa (30m 5s):
Then you have thirdly, a spirit, a spirit-filled Christian. So the spirit-filled Christian is one who begins to experience greater victory over the flesh and experiencing more control by the Holy Spirit in their lives. When you get to the spirit controlled Christian, this Christian supposedly no longer grieves, the Holy spirit anymore, you, you never do anything that would grieve the Holy Spirit. You have so much control of your spiritual life that you have enormous of victory spiritually.
Alfonso Espinosa (30m 37s):
And then finally you, you become essentially what, what I, I translate as a black belt Christian and the black belt Christian is so advanced in their Christianity that they now are able to teach others in, in how to properly live as a Christian. And when I asked Tim LaHaye in an interview, I asked him, I said, in one of your books, you wrote that at the highest level of your, of the Christian faith that you had achieved this level and quote had already kept everything written in the Proverbs unquote.
Alfonso Espinosa (31m 18s):
And I asked him, how long have you had this status? He, he, it was a completely legitimate question to him. He had to think back in time and gave me an approximate time in his ministry when he had achieved that status. Now, now, now, now this, this is catastrophic. And remember, I am currently commenting on the extreme of legalism or what I call delusion in the book that I wrote delusion, we can be diluted and we can start to depend on ourselves. Now, the other extreme is the younger brother who went off to the distant land and disgraced his father's name, but that's libertinism which, which I then refer to as leading the person is now basically admitting I can't do it.
Alfonso Espinosa (32m 5s):
I presented with the Christian faith, of course. Now, now they're assuming that they have to do it, but I can't. And I have to face reality. I'm a loser. I can't do this Christianity thing. And they enter into despair, but either way, this of course is a misunderstanding of Christ alone, but we go these two different directions. And at the end of the day, we get lost as a result.
Elizabeth Pittman (32m 34s):
It's, it's a hard place to be. If you're feeling lost, it can, it's easy when you're facing struggles and you're letting anxiety takeover to start looking forward and kind of projecting forward that things are gonna happen in the future. When we, we don't know. So how, how is that a challenge for us and how can we try to stop doing that?
Alfonso Espinosa (33m 12s):
That's a, that, that's another fantastic question. You know, I'm excited that you're, you're conducting a very powerful ministry, cause you're insightful on the things to ask. I love your question. And, and I think I actually discussed this in Faith. That's used to the culture as well if I'm not mistaken. So just as I was alluding to the fact that God uses this theology of the cross, our approach, if you will, this, this modus operandi, which has never changed for a great God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has always used the theology of the cross.
Alfonso Espinosa (33m 51s):
Satan also has his modus operandi and, and part of the Satan's modus operandi is he does exactly what you, you are innately warning against. He tries to make the Christian live either in the past or in the future. If he can get us to live in the past negatively, then we continue to focus on our failures. From the past, we have our shame and our guilt always covering our conscience as a result.
Alfonso Espinosa (34m 28s):
And we're stuck in the past for the mistakes we made. And we go about the could've and the would of's and the should of's, and they become so engrossed at enveloping, our souls that we're just stuck and anchored to the past. Satan also tries to have us live into the future. And this is why Jesus addressed this in Matthew chapter six, the way he did don't worry about tomorrow. Today has sufficient trouble of its own.
Alfonso Espinosa (34m 58s):
But Satan wants us to go into the future and take on more than we have to, which leads us to a position of anxiety, worry, and frankly fear. So what's happening at the end of the day and trying to get us to go backwards or forwards. We neglect the now and scripture emphasizes the now like none other. This is the day the Lord has made.
Alfonso Espinosa (35m 30s):
Let us rejoice and be glad in it. The writer to the Hebrews. He repeats it like times today. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts today. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Today. The present is the time for salvation. We don't take our faith for granted. Today's the day today is the day to get back to her baptism, to get back to the word, filling our hearts and our minds to confess our faith, to pray to the Lord, to live in the Christian life, which has four highlight aspects.
Alfonso Espinosa (36m 5s):
One no particular order. One is worship. The Christian is always worshiping to a service or giving of themselves to others. The third one is prayer. We're always praying. We pray without ceasing. We have to learn what that looks like by the way, because some people go, Oh well, that's, you know, there's an example of, of, of, of, of extreme exaggeration, a hyperbole. It's not realistic. You know, he was just kinda making, he was trying to make a point, but it's not anyway. And then the fourth one is witnessing, but all of these things, God uses so that we continue to live in Christ.
Alfonso Espinosa (36m 43s):
And we don't forget the importance of the now, the today. Now having said this, I'm going to put an asterisk by everything I just said, because there is an aspect of the past that we should remember and never forget. And there's an aspect of the future that we should always keep our eyes on, but this is the asterisk. And really the asterisk is really a cross. It's a cross on our past. It's a cross in our future in the past is about Jesus on the cross for me, Jesus rising for me, my baptism, the Christ in my past, I celebrate.
Alfonso Espinosa (37m 22s):
I remember I remember I will not forget. And then the future he's coming again in glory and the scriptures say to us who confess his Holy name on that day, lift up your heads for your salvation is drawing near. We should look forward to that day. It's called the glorious hope. We should be excited about that day. You know, we experienced entropy. I might, my body is a mess 55 years.
Alfonso Espinosa (37m 52s):
I remember when I was in high school, Elizabeth, by the grace of God, I could jump so high. When I dunked the basketball, I had rim marks on my elbow. Now I don't think I could even touch the rim with a finger. You know, our bodies just do what our bodies do, but Elizabeth Day is coming. When our spirit, our living spirit will be reunited to be reunited with our raised glorified body. Our bodies will be more radiant and glorious and more strong than they've ever been in our history.
Alfonso Espinosa (38m 26s):
And we will see our loved ones and we will embrace them. The ones who also confess to use us. We have so much to look forward to, and we should look forward to that. But Jesus, Paul talks about it that way. I determined that our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be manifest in us. So, so there is a, there is an asterisk or a cross too, to my statement about time, but the basic thing, yes. And the spiritual battle. What is Satan trying to do with it? Be anchored back to your shame in the past and the anchor to worrying about tomorrow.
Elizabeth Pittman (38m 60s):
So pastor Espinosa, a thank you so much for reminding us today where our identity is. It was, I think you gave us a very powerful reminder that it's in the cross. It's not in the struggles that we face each and every day for our listeners. If they'd like to dig in deeper to the topics that we've talked about today, head over to cph.org and pull up Elle's book, faith that sees through the culture. I'll also drop a link to it in the show notes. Thank you so much for giving us your time today.
Elizabeth Pittman (39m 30s):
This was really great,
Alfonso Espinosa (39m 31s):
Elizabeth, thanks for the honor and the privilege I praise God for what you're doing with CPH is doing. And I rejoice that we get to be partners in the kingdom.
Elizabeth Pittman (39m 41s):
Thanks so much and blessings on your ministry there in California and to our listeners. We'll see you next time. Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Concordia publishing house podcast. I pray that this time was valuable to your walk with Christ. We'd love to connect with listeners on Instagram, Facebook, and [email protected] for more resources to grow deeper in the gospel.