(Click the verse above to see the entire reading)
“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
“One Thing I Do Know”
Is faith in Jesus Christ a gift or is that faith a requirement?
It cannot be both.
For Martin Luther it was a question of righteousness. Was righteousness something required by a stern and angry God, or was it something God, through the death and resurrection of Christ, bestowed upon the believer? Luther came to believe in the latter. For Luther, all his own efforts to become a righteous man in the eyes of God were doomed to fail.
Luther wrote“When God’s righteousness is mentioned in the gospel, it is God’s action of declaring righteous the unrighteous sinner who has faith in Jesus Christ. The righteousness by which a person is justified (declared righteous) is not his own but that of another, Christ.”
The person who knocks on my door to ask me whether I believe in Jesus Christ as my “personal” Lord and savior, does not like my answer. “Not really”, I say. “Not in the way you want me to believe that.” I do not understand my faith to be an insurance policy designed to protect me from eternal damnation or hell.
I understand my faith to be a gift. A precious gift from a loving and gracious God who happens to be determined that I receive this blessing.
Luther put it this way in the small catechism, I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me by his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in the true faith…”
Luther had a way with words!
Questions to ponder or discuss:
1) Is faith in Jesus Christ a gift or is that faith a requirement?
2) How do most church-goers answer question #1 above?
3) What difference does it make?
Spend some time with the bible this week. Maybe read John 9:1-38 and jot down some notes. What jumps out at you? What challenges or inspires or confuses you? How does the passage inform the three questions asked above? Then take the time to go deeper by listening to the message which is based on this passage. The bible is full of surprises!
See you in church!