A Great Explanation of What Faith in God Really is

Featured imageDevotional Thought of the Day
4  But even though we were dead in our sins God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, gave us life together with Christ – it is, remember, by grace and not by achievement that you are saved – and has lifted us right out of the old life to take our place with him in Christ in the Heavens. Thus he shows for all time the tremendous generosity of the grace and kindness he has expressed towards us in Christ Jesus. It was nothing you could or did achieve – it was God’s gift to you. No one can pride himself upon earning the love of God. The fact is that what we are we owe to the hand of God upon us. We are born afresh in Christ, and born to do those good deeds which God planned for us to do. Ephesians 2:4 (Phillips NT)

“What is faith? Well, it is an act that penetrates to the very heart of a person, an act comparable to the definitive Yes of a great love. That is why faith not only can, but must, also be called grace, for like love, it is ultimately a gift, a recurring grace. We do not simply choose grace for ourselves, for grace is by nature an answer and is therefore attributable in the first place to what comes to me from another person, penetrates deeply into me, and makes me open to say thou and so to become truly I. It is, in truth, a gift given me by another person, and yet I am more deeply and more completely involved in it than in any work I might have chosen for myself. Faith is likewise a Yes to God in Jesus Christ, who looks upon me, makes me open, and enables me ultimately to entrust myself to him. Faith penetrates to what is most personal and most interior in me and, in doing so, responds to the Person of Jesus Christ, who calls me by name. But just because it is so entirely personal, faith has nothing narrow or exclusive about it; rather, it leads me into the community.”  (1)

14 We lay hold of him when our heart embraces him and clings to him.
15 To cling to him with all our heart is nothing else than to entrust ourselves to him completely. He wishes to turn us away from everything else, and draw us to himself, because he is the one eternal good. It is as if he said: “What you formerly sought from the saints, or what you hoped to receive from mammon or anything else, turn to me for all this; look upon me as the one who wishes to help you and to lavish all good upon you richly.”
16 Behold, here you have the true honor and the true worship which please God and which he commands under penalty of eternal wrath, namely, that the heart should know no other consolation or confidence than that in him, nor let itself be torn from him, but for him should risk and disregard everything else on earth.

If you didn’t know from whom the above quotes in blue and green came from (the citations are below0, you would hold them to be in agreement.  They are both consistent with the top quote from scripture, which describes God’s work in His people.

That faith comes from, is born from knowing that God loves you (yes, you the reader) and that love is revealed in Christ Jesus.

Both Cardinal Ratzinger’s (later Pope Benedict XVI) and Martin Luther agree on this, the intimate relationship that God calls us to, as He unites us to Christ

When I came across Cardinal Ratzinger’s words in my devotions this morning, I was amazed at this picture he draws, of God’s love penetrating deeply within us.  That love gives us the ability to respond to God, to return His love as we recognize His presence.  And in coming to know His is with us, we find out who we really are.  Everything else is laid aside, except for the relationship God has called us to.  A relationship where we can trust God completely, with everything we are, even the darkest, most troubled parts of our souls.

I find these words so… powerful, so resonant with the truth we know, yet struggle to believe.  That God cares for us, and would free and with great love cleanse us from all that causes the guilt and shame.  Even the stuff we don’t want to admit.

As we entrust ourselves to Him, as we put our faith in Him, we achieve something the world cannot.  We understand that when life is fully about God, it is fully about us.  For in our dance with God, nothing can separate us from Him, nothing can tear us away from that moment and the realization that Christ is with us.

Cardinal Ratzinger makes the link, in this devotion to baptism.  I also see the link to the communion of the saints, that moment when God has called us all together, made us one. God’s work, he says, is so personal that it cannot be exclusive, that is why we rejoice that we are tasked with reconciling every person to God.  That is why we want to reveal this treasure, this hope to everyone.

We gather to worship to celebrate this very thing, and it is that which unites us, this presence of Christ.  It is why I would rather pray for the church’s unity, rather than celebrate any division in the church. That we would recognize that which Paul says,

2  Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3  Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4  For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5  There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6  and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all. Ephesians 4:2-6 (NLT)

One God and Father, who is over all, and in all and living though all,….

May we grow in such faith, as Christ is revealed, bringing us to faith, to entrusting ourselves to Him.

AMEN!  

(1)  Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (p. 214). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

(2)  Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 366). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on July 4, 2015, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotionals, Poiema and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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