Devotional Thought of the Day:
20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Ephesians 4:20-25 (ESV)
17 On the other hand, it is correct to say that in conversion, through the attraction of the Holy Spirit, God changes stubborn and unwilling people into willing people, and that after conversion, in the daily exercise of repentance, the reborn will of man is not idle but cooperates in all the works which the Holy Spirit performs through us.
18 9. Likewise Luther’s statement that man’s will in conversion behaves “altogether passively”5 (that is, that it does nothing at all) must be understood as referring to the action of divine grace in kindling new movements within the will, that is, when the Spirit of God through the Word that has been heard or through the use of the holy sacraments takes hold of man’s will and works the new birth and conversion. But after the Holy Spirit has performed and accomplished this and the will of man has been changed and renewed solely by God’s power and activity, man’s new will becomes an instrument and means of God the Holy Spirit, so that man not only lays hold on grace but also cooperates with the Holy Spirit in the works that follow.
426 Today once again I prayed full of confidence. This was my petition: “Lord, may neither our past wretchedness which has been forgiven us, nor the possibility of future wretchedness cause us any disquiet. May we abandon ourselves into your merciful hands. May we bring before you our desires for sanctity and apostolate, which are hidden like embers under the ashes of an apparent coldness…” ”Lord, I know you are listening to us.” You should say this to him too.
There is, within the church today, a sense of defeatism. The church seems to be dying in America; it no longer serves the community as a place of peace, a sanctuary from the world. It is no longer the place of people set apart to a life walking with Christ.
This is happening, even as American seminaries are be asked to influence the training of pastors in places where the growth of the church is exponential, and that scares me, for what if what we teach them is what has caused our churches, liberal and confessional, traditional and contemporary to diminish in size, and in effect?
I can’t speak to the denominations and movements I know not of, but I can speak, and will speak to those I know well.
In our situation, there is a strange misunderstanding, a problem with one of our prize confessions, the cry of “Faith Alone”, and how it has morphed into something it never was.
It was about conversion; some people think it is about the entirety of our life. They take another summary of theology – we are simultaneously sinners and justified – and it and what has developed is a theology that there is no need for spiritual growth, there is no need for being transformed into the image of Christ, for growing in faith and holiness.
We see them come to faith, find their seat in church – and leave them there. We remind them their sins are forgiven; we tell them to trust God for their salvation, but we fail to encourage them to live life with Christ.
But as you see in blue above, the early Luther’s never meant that sanctification was optional, that serving alongside Christ was just for a chosen few, that the rest could be passive in how they live life, that a signed check was good enough.
We are meant to be instruments, means of grace as we share the gospel given to us via God’s word, and the sacraments that are tangible means of that grace. Every Christian, growing in faith, seeing themselves set apart to be used by God, interceding and ministering to those who are around them, loving them as CHirst loves us.
Are we going to be perfect? Nah>
Are we still going to be occasionally wretched? It’s possible, even probable and in my case. definite. But that shouldn’t stop us from being drawn to the cross, abandoning ourselves into the hands that were crucified, into the life that we died with at the cross, and are raised to, quickened by the power of the Holy Spirit – which raised Christ from the dead.
It is time to return to encourage holiness, to encourage people to live as God intends, as one, holy, called together and sent into a broken world people.
Faith Alone- yes it saves – and brings us into a journey with God -where it sees us made into a holy people…people that can bring God’s healing to a lost and broken world.
Lord, I know you are listening to us, breathe on us, and cause the embers of our desire for your mission and our holiness rage into a holy inferno. AMEN!
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 472). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press. Formula of Concord: Pt 1 Epitome II Free Will
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1637-1641). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.