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June 1, 2020

Occidental Community Church family,

Galatians 3:26. "You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus,  27.for all of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ."

A fundamental truth of the Christian faith is that we cannot attain to a right standing with God based upon our own righteousness or worthiness.  Christ Jesus our Lord must become our spiritual "clothing" if we are to be acceptable to God our Father. Christian baptism is the ceremony in which we portray both the washing away of our sins and the clothing of ourselves with the righteousness of Christ.  This concept is also taught in slightly different words in Romans 13:14. "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts."  Even when we don't "feel" righteous we are "declared" righteous by the fact that the righteousness of Christ now covers us.  We are "in" Him.  Now, when our Heavenly Father sees us, it is not our own unrighteousness and sin He sees, but the sinless righteousness of His own Son who clothes and covers us.  What a glorious truth this is!

The best illustration of this truth I have ever heard comes from H. A. Ironside, an itinerant preacher in the early 1900's, who traveled throughout the Northwest preaching the gospel and establishing churches.  Much of his travelling and preaching was along the Columbia River, which separates Oregon from Washington.  Fifty years ago I was the minister at Corbett Christian Church in Corbett, Oregon, a small town on the Columbia River east of Portland.  One of our elderly women told me that Ironside began his itinerant preaching in this very town shortly before WWI.  She had gone to his meetings and was one of his first converts.

Up the river a few miles, in Roosevelt, Washington, a small town across the river from Arlington, Oregon, Ironside was once conducting a series of evangelistic meetings.  He was staying in the home of sheep ranchers.  During the season when the lambs were being born, he loved watching the spry little lambs play in the fields.  One morning he was startled to see what appeared to be a six-legged lamb following an old ewe.  It's last two legs were dangling helplessly as though paralyzed, and the skin seemed to be partially torn from its body.  

One of the herders brought the lamb to Mr. Ironside, and the mystery was soon solved.  This was an orphan lamb whose mother had been killed by a rattlesnake.  When a lamb would lose its mother, no other ewe would take up the lamb and care for it, because it didn't smell as if it belonged to the family.  So they found a lamb that had died, skinned it, and carefully drew and attached the fleece over the orphan lamb.  This left the hind-leg coverings dragging loosely behind.  The herders then took the lamb to the mother ewe whose lamb had died.  Upon sniffing the lamb, the mother of the dead lamb was satisfied that it was her own and continued to care for it as if it were.

Like that orphan lamb, we need the "covering" of Christ, the Lamb of God, in order to be acceptable to God.  When we become "clothed" with His righteousness, we are brought under the promise of Romans 8:1. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Jesus once told a parable about a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.  Many were invited to attend, but when it was time for the banquet to begin, they all had excuses why they could not come.  The king then told his servants to go to the street corners and invite anyone they could find, good or bad, to come the the banquet.  There was only one requirement.  They must wear the proper wedding clothes.  When the king came in to greet his guests, he noticed a man who was not wearing these clothes.  The attendants were given instructions to remove the man from the celebration.  

We are all invited to the great Wedding Supper of the Lamb in heaven.  There is only one wedding attire that will gain us admission - THE GARMENTS OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST!

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Rick

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Pastor Rick will be posting a video sermon every Sunday on our church website until we are able to meet together again for worship in our sanctuary. Pray with me that will be soon!
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