Thankful for Steadfastness but Whose Steadfastness is it? by Pr. Rossow
I checked out the “Treasury of Prayer” this morning for devotional material for a day of national thanksgiving. Even though it is not a “church” commemoration I thought I might find something. The best I could find is a prayer of thanksgiving to God in the intercessions section (p. 1,316). What caught my eye however, is the prayer just above it “for steadfast faith.”
Ever since the inception of the Brothers of John the Steadfast last spring, Cantor Magness and I have been noticing how often the word “steadfast” shows up in scripture and liturgy, and this is another fine example. I did a word search this morning in the ESV and found 224 instances of the word “steadfast” in God’s holy word. (BTW – a great internet resource for word searches is the ESV website. I use it all the time.)
Included in those 224 citations are examples of faith being described as “steadfast.” Most protestants, and this includes practitioners of the church growth movement within the LCMS, typically speak of faith as growing or increasing but far more prominent is the teaching that faith is to be steadfast and immovable. “Growing” faith puts the emphasis on us but a “steadfast” faith puts the emphasis on the object of faith – Christ and his blood atonement. There are a few references to “growing” faith in scripture but far more prominent is faith described as steadfast and among those numerous entries there is a surprising and wonderful truth.
Guess who the steadfast one is? We have formed a new Lutheran men’s group focusing on the brothers being steadfast but the more profound and wonderful truth is that God is the steadfast one. (Thank you Dr. Nagel for training me to notice things like this.) The ESV translates the Hebrew word chesedh as steadfast love and most of the 224 references are to God’s chesedh or his loyal, undying love for us his children. If the Brothers are going to be steadfast, we best look to God and his loyal love for us in Christ.
Focusing on the steadfastness of faith has another benefit. It puts the emphasis of faith on the objective set of doctrines that we are to keep pure rather than on the subjective side of faith which those doctrines create in us. In this day and age of emphasis on emotion and relevance, it is the latter that gets stressed over the former, even though the faith “in” us is derived from and dependent on the faith “given” to us from the outside and residing in God’s holy teachings.
Spending a few days out in the great Northwest reminds me that the loyal love of God is found across the globe. In a few minutes we will leave to worship at Messiah Lutheran in Seattle and meet up with Brother of John the Steadfast Jim Pierce and receive the ministrations from God through his faithful shepherd, Pastor Lassman. As I think about what I am thankful for, beyond God, family and the congregation I serve, the steadfast Brothers and all the other readers of this website come to mind.
By the way, we highly recommend “The Treasury of Daily Prayer” for the brothers and all of our readers. The material put out by CPH ever since Paul McCain arrived a few years ago, has been outstanding and this latest entry is another great tool to sustain steadfast faith in a steadfast God. Here is the text of the prayer for steadfast faith.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, because of your tender love toward us sinners You have given us Your Son that believing in Him, we might have everlasting life. Continue to grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may remain steadfast in this faith to the end and finally come to life everlasting; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen
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