It was bound to happen. Someone changes the subject. People unfriend me on Facebook because of my overly churchy posts. Family members avoid my religious conversations. Even I fall into the trap of continually avoiding religious topics that may rub people the wrong way. It’s easy to confess my faith on Sunday morning but not in my everyday life. The world has me convinced that proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ is only allowed in certain situations. My comfort level may be compromised if I attempt to talk to someone about Jesus Christ. They may have questions I can’t answer off the top of my head. It’s easier to keep the Gospel of Jesus Christ to myself. I can almost hear the devil laughing whenever the truth of our Savior and his saving grace are not proclaimed to the world. Love, acceptance, and being nice to people have become more important than truth and faith.
Shortly before Easter I had almost completely finished an article which was meant to address to friends and family about the biblical Christian faith that has encompassed my life over the past few years. Things of the world having rightly taken a backseat to the joy and love I have for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was uncertain if the article was really geared toward the Confessional Lutheran crowd, who I would hope already have a solid understanding of the faith. I decided to re-write it in hopes that people like me would share it with family and friends outside the faith or for people who subscribe to the warped form of American Christianity. The American Christianity that puts the focus on you and not on Jesus Christ dying for you. From the article I never finished I came up with five things that really helped me in understanding the faith. It was also meant to help explain to family and friends what shapes my faith. I hope if you do share it that it also reflects what you believe and confess.
We always need to start there. To understand me is to understand that I believe the bible is the Word of God, not just guidelines or a how-to guide on what to do in this life. Do I understand everything in the Bible? No. Do I know every Bible story? No. Does that mean I shouldn’t believe what it says or that it can’t be the Word of God? My memory and knowledge have nothing to do with the fact of the Bible is inerrant. In my opinion, if you can’t take the Bible as 100% true you starting off at the wrong point. If you say this or that part of the Bible is not true then what’s stopping you from saying the Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t true? It all works together and just because my brain can’t always figure that out doesn’t make it less true.
Going hand and hand with believing the Bible is the true Word of God. Original sin is a key factor to understanding our current situation. Adam and Eve and their fall into sin is now our condition. There is nothing we can do, we are covered in sin. The way we were meant to be when God created us was destroyed in Eden. No matter how hard we try to be good people or live a more “Christian” life, we will always fall short. Take it from a rampant sinner; it’s not easy to turn from sin. Our flesh is corrupted by the sin we inherited from Adam and Eve. Understanding our failings hopefully will turn us back to God and his forgiveness and not into despair and continual sin. The church is here to help with our sin here on earth and Jesus Christ has covered all our sin.
Law and Gospel.
The Bible is broken done into two parts. The Law and the Gospel are contained in both the Old and New Testament. The Law (The Ten Commandments) is what God demands of us. The Gospel is what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. He knew we couldn’t obey his law and rescued us. The Gospel is the good news that God sent his son, Jesus Christ to earth to take away the sins of the world. The punishment we all deserve was placed on Jesus Christ. The Law and the Gospel must continue to be in your life. Even though we are forgiven the law must be continually heard to keep us in a life of repentance and faith in the Gospel.
Faith is strengthened and built with the help of the church. The Word of God and the Holy Spirit get all the credit for the building up of my faith. I have had people comment to me that they respect my faith. I would be quick to correct them that my faith is weak and wavers daily. Without the church and the Word of God being continually brought to me there is no doubt that I would fall away from the true faith that is in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I lived many years away from the church, I know what my heart and sinful flesh are capable of. This is why some Christians could be called zealous in their attempts to get people back into church life, or baptize their children. What the church offers so freely are the gifts of grace that sinners so need to get through this life of sin and struggle. The Word of God enters our ears and eases our conscience. Baptism puts the seal of Christ on you and forgives your sins. The true body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins that we receive during the Lord’s Supper are meant to strengthen us in the true faith. The church has been given to us by God to help us through our time here on earth. The church that rightly proclaims the Word of God and properly administers the sacraments truly brings God to us here on earth.
Above I wrote that the Bible is always the starting point. The Bible tells us about God and his love for us. Our faith as Christians is founded in Jesus Christ alone. Jesus Christ has offered up for us his perfect life. Try as I might to look at my faith and see growth in my faith or life, to do that I would be putting my eggs in the wrong basket. Being a good person does not earn you salvation. Giving all your money to the needy is a great service to your neighbor but doesn’t earn you favor with God. The great joy Christians have is that we have a God who so loved us that he sent his Son to the take the punishment we deserve. God knew we couldn’t hack it and he sent his Son to die on the cross for us all. The most important thing to understand about me is to know that I place all my faith at the feet of Jesus Christ and beg for forgiveness and mercy. That forgiveness of sins is guaranteed because of Jesus Christ. Through faith, we are saved for Christ’s sake.
Although it may be difficult at times to express our faith to others, we must continue to make no apologies about our faith in Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ must continue to be spoken in truth and purity. When we get bogged down by the world, our own sin and the lies of the devil, we must always keep our focus on God’s Word and Jesus Christ’s victory on the cross for us all.