Dean's List: Your Permanent Record

By Aaron T. Fenker

They've done wrong.They don't measure up to our community standards.They said something.They did something. It doesn't matter why they did it. It doesn't matter if they matured or tried to make up for it or said they were sorry. What they did, what they stood for was just too bad.

I'm not talking about Christianity, even though lots of people think this is the way the Christian Church works. Sadly, while many individual Christians and congregations may teach and act that way, I'm not actually talking about that. No, I'm talking about the world.

Nowadays, nothing's ever really gone. You can't delete. Well, you can, but then there are screen shots! There's a permanent record somewhere: your internet search history, your posts, your tweets, your texts. Whom you called, where you went, and probably what you ate--all searchable. That's beyond the more boring stuff of medical records, driving records, report cards, transcripts. The list goes on. It's not just your history. It's everyone’s. No one's safe.

You're not safe. The world's purity cult will come for you. Their judgment day against you is just around the corner, especially if you're a Christian with faith in Jesus who saves you. But what will they find? What throw-away tweet? What thoughtless text? What places did you go? Who did you go with? (Cell phone data makes that easy to discover!) Who were your friends then? What will they be able to dig up about you in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years? And what will happen when they do?

You know, don't you? I do. We see it today. Tear down. Shatter. Smash. Break. Erase. Cancel. Belittle. Condemn. Burn. Now, this isn't a commentary on what or who should be our examples or icons in the world. We can always grow to see what is and is not helpful in loving and serving those around us. Of course we should do that, not just as Christians, but just as human beings. But is there anyone who's truly pure? Just think about it. Do you expect perfection of the people you look up to? That's suddenly what the world demands of everyone according to the current standard.

The world's standard is always shifting, changing. That's both good and bad. It can help us better understand and serve our neighbor, or it could also do the opposite. We're witnessing both at the same time! But the actual problem isn't the world's standards, it's  God's standard--His unchanging standard. His standard is "holy." No one measures up to that. No one ever has. No one ever will. You haven't. You can't. (Well, that's not 100% accurate, but more on that in just a minute.)

So, what's the Lord to do with the world? What's He to do with all the people in it? What we expect is for Him to destroy it. Well, at least, the really bad people in it, and that's not us. But we still expect it--a stubbed toe, getting sick, having something bad to happen. There's always something coming. Maybe embarrassment or shame. The Lord has His permanent record after all. You can't hit delete. He knows everything. He'll bring it all up again. Scour your entire life, DVR your high points and your low points. What's the Lord supposed to do...with you?

Well, the Father sends His Son for you. "He sent His Son not to condemn the world but that the world would be saved through Him" (John 3:17). He measured up.The holy Son of God comes into the world, "born under the Law to redeem those who were under the law" (Galatians 4:4-5). He lived a holy life--always. This holy Jesus, who lived a holy life wholly under the holy law, was "numbered with the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:12). He was holy but was judged as unholy in your place. "He bore our sins in His own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24), He was "made to be sin for us" (2 Corinthians 5:21). And in the shedding of His blood, there is "redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Ephesians 1:7), and Christ's own clean record, His holiness, His righteousness, is credited to your account, for "in Him we are the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

There's no cancelling with the Lord. No cancelling for you, anyway. He doesn't wipe you out. He won't destroy you, shame you, break you, delete you. But  He does that to your sins, though. He "cancelled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 1:14). He cancelled His Son for your sake: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46) But Jesus wasn't just "delivered up for our trespasses" (Romans 4:25). He was "raised for our justification" (Romans 4:25). Justification means the forgiveness of your sins, that you're declared innocent before God because of Jesus’ death and resurrection alone.

Your salvation can't be cancelled because Jesus for you can't be cancelled. He died and rose. God can't cancel you, not ever. Not only because He made a promise (and He keeps His promises),but if He were to cancel you, the Lord would have to cancel the flesh and blood He took up. He'd have to cancel part of Himself. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14), "And the Son Now is one With our blood forever" ("All My Heart Again Rejoices" LSB 360, st. 2).

Your salvation is cancel-proof. God put His Name on you at Holy Baptism. He's declared you innocent in the Absolution, forgiving you all your sins. He's given you His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins. He fills you up with His Word where He tells you all that He did to save you. Many and various gifts, many and various words, many and various times and places, the Lord tells you the same thing over and over again: You're a child of the Father in Jesus His Son, given the Holy Spirit as the down payment of your eternal life.

He's not going to scour your life for mistakes, screw-ups, sins. He can't! There's nothing to see, nothing to search for in Jesus. "I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more" (Jeremiah 31:34). In Jesus, your permanent record is set: holy, righteous, saved, forgiven. That's you in Jesus, baptized into Him. The only thing the Lord's Judgment Day will cancel and destroy and tear down and burn isn't you, dear Christian. The devil, death, and hell itself will be "thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:14-15).

But your name is there, dear saint of God. We're "engraved on the palms of My hands," the Lord says, His nail-scarred hands. You're named with God's own Name--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Your permanent record is the record He won for you. "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that  when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him  purifies himself as he is pure" (1 John 3:2-3). That's you in Jesus. Today. Tomorrow. Twenty years from now. Forever and ever.

Rev. Aaron T. Fenker is the pastor of Bethlehem and Immanuel Lutheran Churches in Bremen, Kansas, and the dean of theology for Higher Things. 

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Hiding Place Hill Hogwarts Hokana Holly Innocents Holy Baptism Holy Communion Holy Land Hosanna I am Immanuel Independence Isaac Isaiah Islam Jacoby Jacob Jeremiah Jesus Christ Jesus body Jesus is the suwwer Jesus is with us Jesus saves Jesus shines like the sun Jesus suffering Jesus the Sent One Jesus took all sins Jesus travels to sinners Jesus-access tot he Father Jesus' baptism Jesus\' baptism Jews and gentiles Joanna John the Baptist Johnson John Jonah Joseph Smith Joseph Joshua Joy/suffering Judah Judgment Day Karma=get what you give Keith Kieselowsky Klages Kosche LGBTQ Laban Lamb Lamentations Lamg of God Last Day Law requires doing Law shows sin Lazarus Leah Lent Levi Life or death Lincoln Lord Loss Luke 17 Luke 18 Luke 1 Luther Lydia Magnificat Maiwald Mark 8 Marr 3 Martha Martin Luther Mary Mass Matt 13 Matt 20 Matt 3 Matt 6 Matthew 2 Matthew Matthias replaces Judas Matthias McCrorey McKenna Melanchthon Memorial Day Messiah Micah Middle East Monica Mormonism Mormon Mother of God Muhammad Muhlenberg Muslims Myers Nagel Nazareth New Year Nicene Nicodemus Nunes Office of Ministry Old Testament Ostapowich Paradise Passover Paul/greatest apostle Pauls Peperkorn Peter's confession Peter\'s confession Pharaoh Pharoah Philip Philistines Phillip Pierson Pilate Polycarp Pontius Pilate Populus Zion Potiphar Preus Rachel Rahab Rebekah Redeemer Reuben Revelation Riley Romans 1 Rosebrough Ruth Sabbath Salome Sanchez Sanctus Sarah Saul/greatest preseutor Savior of all Savior Schools shouln't lead prayer Schuldheisz Sebastian Second Article Seed Septuagesima Shakespeare Simeon Simon Sinner team becomes Jesus' team Sinner team becomes Jesus\' team Sixth Commandment Sletten Smalcald Sodom Son of David Son of God Son of Man Sons of God Son Spirit of God St. Matthias St. Paul Staupitz Supper Table of Duties Te Deum Ten Commandments The Son of God Theotokos Third Article Timothy Titus Transfiguation Transfiquration Tree of Life UFO Valentine Vieker Weedon Winter Woelmer Word and Sacrement Word Zachariah Zacharias "Not" abortion is evil abortion abram absolve abuse academic active ad te levavi adultery adults advice affirmation agnostic alcoholic aliens almighty altar guild altar always angel anger animal anna anouthen answer anti-christian antinomian antioch antiphonal antithetical to Christianity anxiety apocalypse apologetic apostle appearances appearance archaeology archangels ark athanasian atheism atheist augustana authority awake babylon baby baggage banquet baptism baptized baptizing barnabas barren bartholomew beginning belief believes believing is recieving benjamin best construction betray between you bible bigot birth of Jesus birthright blessing blind blood boast body bonhoeffer borghardt born again brandt bread breakup bride of Christ bridegroom bride brother buetow burial cain calendar cancel culture cancer candle casket catechism catechize celebration centurion chant chastity child abuse children choir chosen christianity christmas christ circumcision clergy clerical cling coin college colossians combat comfort commandment command compassion concupiscence condemn conferences confessions confession confess confirmation connection conspiracy theory context conversion cookie council covenant coveting creation creed critical theory cross crown crucifiction crucified crucifix cry culture shock culture cupid curb current events curse cwirla daily bread danger darkness de-platform dead dean death debt decrease defeat delivered demon depression descriptive vs prescriptive destroy devil disappointment disaster disciples discipline dishonesty disruption diversity divorce doctrine dogma domestic violence donations donkey door doubts doubt doxology dream drew driven by the Spirit drugs earthquake easter ecclesiastical egypt election elizabeth embarrassment emotions empty tomb encourgement endure enemy engineering enlightened enlivening epiphany epistle equality equal equity estates eternal life for us eternal life evangelism evangelist evil evolution examine example excuses exhalted exhortation exile extra nos failure faith alone faithful faith fall false gods false teachers family famine fasting fate father's house father\'s house father\\\'s house father\\\\\\\'s house fear feast feelings female feminism fire flesh flowers font foolish for you foretaste forgiveness forgiven forgive fornication fortress fraud freedom freshman friendship from scripture fulfillment funeral fun future games gaudete gay gender geneology generations generosity genetics genetic gentiles gerhardt gift girlfriend given not earned glory of God glory gnosticism goats godliness golden rule golf good samaritan good work good gospel government gracious gratitude great commission grief groom guard guest guide guilt hannah happiness have mercy hearing/listening heart heaven heinz heirs hell heresy herod high priest high school history holiday holiness holy spirit holy trinity holy homosexuality honor hope hostility house of israel humble humility hurt hymnal hymn hypocrites identity image imitate impossible imputed in Jesus incarnation inconsistant standards increase inheritance institution internet interpretation introit invitation isolation israel issues james jerome jerusalem jesus jewish job joy judas jude judgement judge justice justification justify justin martyr kantor karma keep keseman keys kill kind kingdom king knowledge kohlmeier kuhlman lange language large catechism latin laugh law lectionary legacy lemon lepers lept lex credendi lex orendi life-changing life lightning light lion listen liturgical liturgy live living bread living water lords prayer lords supper lost sheep lost love your neighbor love-Christ on cross love lowly lust lutheran madden magicians magisterial magruder manger manifestation manipulative marriage martyrs martyr mary magdalene mary/faith masks meals means of grace measure mental health merciful mercy metaphor microagression mietzner millennium miracle missionary modernism money moses mountains movement murder musician myth name nation nature nebuchadnezzar negative neighbor net of sin news noah obey offering old Adam on our knees on the knees onesimus orders ordinary ordination organ original sin orthodox our neighbors body overseer pagan pandemic papacy parable paraments parents represent God parents teach religion parents party passive pastor patience patriarch paul payment peace peers pentecost people persecution person peter pharisee philemon philosophy physical touch place or vacation plagues plan pope postmodern poverty praise pray for leaders pray pre-Lent=prepare pre-emptive restraint preach prepare for Calvary pride priesthood proclaim prodigal promise prophecy prophet psalm punish purity quarantine racism ransom rape rapture reality reason rebel reconcile reconciliation redemption reflection reformation refuge rejoice relationship religion religious repent now repentance repent resolutions rest resurrection reverence with joy richard rich righteousness riots risen road to Damascus rock rorate coeli sacrament sacrements sacrifice of presentation sacrifice saints saint salvation samaritan sanctification satan satis est saul saved by grace saved save scholarship school science scripture segregation self-esteem self-worth seraphim sermon servant served without fanfare service project set apart sexual sex shaltanis shame shepherd showed glory sick silas simul sinners sinner sins sin slavery small catechism sola fide sola gratia sola sophia sorrow soul soup supper spiritual drink spiritual spirit star state steal stephen steward stottlemyer strength stress strong subjective suffer for...my name suffer/die/rise again suffering suicide support single mothers symbol synagogue tabernacle teach technology temple temptation tempted tertullian tetelestai the Christ the Cross the Word theology thomas throne through faith tomb tongues trinity triune God triune trust truth unbelief unity universal changing event universalism universe university unwoke veil vestments victim victory video virgin virtue vocation voice war watermarked water weakness weak wealth wedding wept widow wine for wedding wisdom wise witness woke=aware of social justice wokeism=American civil religion woke works world worship wrath yahweh youth ministry youth zechariah zion zombie