By Faith Alone


Download 14.37 Kb.
Date conversion14.06.2018
Size14.37 Kb.
By Faith Alone: Week Twenty-Eight: Day One
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today Luther is writing about what Dietrich Bonhoeffer described as cheap grace. When God’s gracious gift of forgiveness is used as a license to do as you please, then the gift is misused. Cheap grace is a grace that costs nothing. You can say all of the right things – confess all the right things – but if the freedom we have in Christ is being used as a cloak to hide a self-centered heart, then that grace is cheap indeed.

It’s cheap because it has no effect. We wear the clothes without any change of heart. And we resist the work of the Spirit in our lives. The grace of God calls us to come and die – die to self. God the Father means to transform us into the image of His Son. Jesus became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. In Baptism, we have died with Christ and we have been raised to life. God’s intent is to complete the work He began – to conform us to the image of Christ.

God’s gift of forgiveness and life was not cheap for the Father. It cost Him the life of His Son. And it certainly wasn’t cheap for His Son. Jesus went to the cross and died the death we deserve. He died for us so that He could set us free from the chains of sin and death. And He rose again so that He could give us new life.

And while that gift comes to us without any work on our part, it is still a costly gift. We have been set free from sin and death. We have been set free to live for God and for the benefit of our neighbor. Our future is secure. There is no need for me to focus on me. I have been set free to focus on the needs of others – on sharing with others the life and hope that is mine in Jesus. I have to set me aside daily as I seek to serve others. That’s the cost of God’s grace.

Luther writes: “Therefore, we follow Paul’s example, by teaching and encouraging people that this freedom of the Spirit gives them an opportunity to serve, not an opportunity to act on their evil desires. As Peter says, ‘Don’t hide behind your freedom when you do evil. Instead, use your freedom to serve God’ (1 Peter 2:16).”

By Faith Alone: Week Twenty-Eight: Day Two
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The title for today’s devotion is “When We Don’t Understand.” Luther begins with this from the Gospel of John: “Nicodemus asked him, ‘How can anyone be born when he’s an old man? He can’t go back inside his mother a second time to be born, can he?’” (John 3:4). Luther goes on to write:

“Christ isn’t talking about physical birth in this passage, but rather about spiritual birth, which is accomplished through water and the Spirit. If Nicodemus didn’t understand what Christ was saying up to this point, how much less will he understand this spiritual rebirth? Our opponents think it’s ridiculous to teach that a person must be born anew by water and the Spirit – nothing else. They don’t understand or believe this teaching. That is why they shout, “You must do good works!” In this way, they discredit what’s most important: If a person isn’t reborn by water and the Spirit, than all is lost. Don’t think that anyone will enter the kingdom of God unless he first is born anew by water and the Spirit. These are plain but powerful words: “You must be born from above” (John 3:7). We have to pass from the birth of sin to the birth of righteousness. Otherwise, we will never go to heaven. After this new birth, good works will naturally follow.

Christ tells Nicodemus much about this new birth. But Nicodemus can’t understand it. You won’t be able to understand it either, unless you have been born anew and have experienced spiritual rebirth. Let these words stay as they are. Don’t try to reinterpret them, even though they might seem foolish and strange to human reason. Understand the simple meaning of these words, the way they are usually read.

You shouldn’t dare to reinterpret the Word of God your own way. It’s better to think, ‘I don’t understand these words. But before I change them, take something away from them, or add to them, I would rather lave them alone. I’ll give them to God.’ The Scriptures should always be handled with reverence and respect.”

By Faith Alone: Week Twenty-Eight: Day Three
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today Luther writes about the certainty of eternal life. That certainty is seen in the Old Testament where death is talked about as falling asleep. It is a sleep from which the children of God awaken to eternal life. What was a promise given to God’s Old Testament people was made complete in Jesus. He said that He is the resurrection and the life. And by faith in Him, we live in that life.

As He told His disciples, He was going away – back to the Father – to prepare a place for them (and for us). And if He goes to prepare a place for us, He will return so that He can take us to be with Him where He is. Every Sunday we are brought to that place where we celebrate the certainty of life today and forever that is ours in Christ. Every Sunday morning is a foretaste of the reality that is to come.

Jesus is THE Life and He comes to share that with us. Because He lives, so do we. His tomb is empty. It is not His final resting place. Because we have been joined together with Christ in Baptism, the grave is not our final destination. Jesus has prepared a place for us in His house and at His table.

By Faith Alone: Week Twenty-Eight: Day Four

Grace to you and peace from God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today, Luther shares some thoughts about keeping God’s name holy. He references the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “Hallowed be Thy name.” He goes on to write:

“Although it’s short, the Lord’s Prayer is delightful and profound when prayed from the heart. Among the seven parts of the Lord’s Prayer, the greatest part is ‘Let your name be kept holy.’ Notice, however, that God’s name is holy in and of itself. It’s not made holy by us. God is the one who makes all things holy and makes us holy as well. So ‘let your name be kept holy’ means that God’s name should be made holy in us. When this happens, God becomes everything and we become nothing. The other six parts of the Lord’s Prayer point to the same end – keeping God’s name holy. When we keep God’s name holy, we do everything well.”

Certainly we want to keep His name holy among us by living according to God’s Word. But we don’t do that very well – not all of the time. So the forgiveness that is ours in Christ becomes an essential part of keeping God’s name holy among us. When we confess our sin, God can continue His work to make us holy by removing that stain. It points us back to Jesus who is our righteousness – our holiness. He became sin for us so that we could become the righteousness of God in Him. That’s how God’s name is being made holy in us. It is an alien righteousness meaning that it is not our own or of our own making. It is imparted to us by the gracious work of God done in us through His word joined to the waters of Baptism (cf. Romans 6:3-11).

And so our prayer is that God continue His work to make His name holy in us and through us – that He bring to completion in us the work that He began when He called us to faith. He is faithful and He will do it.

By Faith Alone: Week Twenty-Eight: Day Five
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What Luther writes today pertains to making the proper distinction between Law and Gospel. The Law has the function of stripping us of any pretense that we are now or can ever be pleasing to God by our strength alone. The Law is designed to bring us to the point of despair – to the point where we see no escape. God uses the Law in that way so that the word of His Gospel will be heard and received for what it is – a lifeline to a drowning man. If we don’t know we are in need, then we will refuse the life preserving Gospel that God gives to us.

If I am not preaching God’s Law in the manner in which it is intended, then the hearers will never see their need. They will never be open to the Gospel. They will think that they are fine just as they are – no need to change or to follow any path but their own. They won’t truly know the love God has for them because they have fashioned God in their image.

If, on the other hand, I preach God’s Law as it is intended to be preached and the Holy Spirit is at work through the Law to convict hearts and silence objections, then the hearers will be laid bare. They will see their need and they will hunger and thirst for a righteousness that is not their own. Like a starving man, they will take hold of the promises of God made complete in Jesus as if their lives depended on it.

May God so work through His Word and may I always preach both His Law and the Gospel so that God can continue to draw all who are lost to Jesus who is our only hope of rescue from the chains of sin and the demands of God’s Law.


The database is protected by copyright © 2017
send message

    Main page