A Note from Pastor Wood

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:16) “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:8–9)

I have often struggled understand faith. Believing, seems to be a work. Something that I need to bring to the table. I hear it all the time, “Jesus died for you, all you have to do is believe!” But Paul says clearly, “This is not your own doing.”

How is believing not our work? Scripture gives us a handy definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1, I like how the KJV puts it, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is substance and evidence. Faith is a thing which is given. The large and small catechism frequently speaks of faith in terms of trust. Trust is the thing which is given.

Now you might ask, “Isn’t trust a work?” It is a work. It is God’s work in you. Just think of how trust works in the world. You don’t just have it. If I command: trust the government. Trust the media. Trust the police. Trust your parents. Trust your kids Trust whatever. Trust in these comes only after it is earned. You can pretend to trust them or give opportunities for them to earn your trust. But that’s not true trust. Trust is earned and won from us by the person or thing in whom we trust.

It is absurd and ridiculous to think that God stoops down to earn our trust. Shouldn’t we have to earn his trust? We are the ones who constantly turn our backs on him. We are the ones who constantly rebel, break our oaths, despise His Word, and live as though God doesn’t matter. We should have to earn God’s trust, but that’s just not how it works. No matter how foolish or ridiculous it may seem, God acts in human history to earn, create, enliven, and preserve our trust in him.

How? He shows us his love. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son…” God creates love and trust in our hearts by making promises to us and keeping them. That is the story of the Scriptures. That is the reason we gather together to worship. God reminds us of his promises in the words of absolution, in the body and blood of the Sacrament. At the same time God is keeping his promises. That is the great joy and expectation we wait to celebrate on Easter. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ God proclaims “Promise Kept.” He promises to send His Son again. On the last day to raise every person from the dead and to bring His people into eternal life. He has always kept his promises. He’ll keep this one too. Trust Him.

…Pastor Wood