|Written by Pastor Eric Edwards|
|Wednesday, 14 March 2012 13:57|
Readings for Lent 4
Passage to ponder: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)
Devotion: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”
What does this mean?
Answer: I believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church he daily and abundantly forgives all my sins, and the sins of all believers, and on the last day he will raise me and all the dead and will grant eternal life to me and to all who believe in Christ. This is most certainly true.
In this, the Third article of the Apostles Creed, Luther ‘lifts up the banner’ of John 3:16- one of the most “gospel” rich (if not well known) verses of Holy Scripture. For Lutheran Christians, belief (continued ‘believing’) or faith does not originate in us- it originates with God. Through ‘lifting up’ Christ crucified for us and for the world, the Holy Spirit creates the faith that receives the gifts of God: the forgiveness of our sin and life that lasts forever. It is God’s work for you: The Father, who lovingly creates, sends the Son to graciously redeem us “lost and condemned creatures”, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies, (makes us holy), through the gift of faith in Jesus, who was “lifted up” for us.