Working in our Faith

Faith, however, is a divine work in us that changes us and makes us to be born anew of God, John 1. It kills the old Adam and makes us altogether different men, in heart and spirit and mind and powers; it brings with it the Holy Spirit. O, it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith. It is impossible for it not to be doing good works incessantly. It does not ask whether good works are to be done, but before the question is asked, it has already done them, and is constantly doing them. Whoever does not do such works, however, is an unbeliever.

Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that the believer would stake his life on it. This knowledge of and confidence in God’s grace makes men glad and bold and happy in dealing with God and all creatures. And this is the work that the Holy Spirit performs in faith. Because of it, without compulsion, a person is ready and glad to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything, out of love and praise to God, who has shown him this grace. Thus it is impossible to separate works from faith.

Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord IV, 10-12

I read the above paragraphs a couple of days ago as part of my daily devotionals. Honestly, I read the first paragraph and felt convicted, so I wanted to move on from what I didn’t like hearing. The first few sentences of the second paragraph is completely different in tone and I thought, “Yeah! This is so great, so reassuring!” It is all about God’s grace and His promises for is. However, it pivots back to works. Ouch.

Why “ouch”? Simply put, for a few years I don’t think I’ve been living out my faith. There have been countless Saturdays and weekdays where I wasn’t working but didn’t do anything, or maybe I should say anything productive. I didn’t volunteer at a food bank or with kids or at some other ministry; I didn’t learn a new language or a new skill, I didn’t do anything to better myself or my neighborhood or the world around me. At least not regularly.

So you can see why I may not want to hear what God had to say for me. It wasn’t the first time I realized that I had been unproductive, but it’s always tough to hear it and be reminded of it.  But we need to hear it. We need to hear those tough words that our Father has for us, that we are not living up to His perfect standards. Yet, we can take comfort in His promises. We have that “daring confidence in God’s grace” because we know that our robes have been washed in the Blood of the Lamb.

The Holy Spirit works in us to sanctify us. Part of this work of sanctification, the process of becoming more holy (a process which shall not be complete while we are here on this earth), is that we desire to do good works. Good works, not for salvation, but because we know that those things are from God

Prayer: Father, we thank you for all you have done for us, all of the blessings in our lives are because of you. Please forgive us for having forgotten this and using our time and blessings for our own selfish desires and not for your. Thank you for the gift of grace through your Son and please give us your Spirit so that we may think, say, and do the things you would want us to do. Through your Son’s name, Amen.

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Through the Blood of the Lamb

To be sure, all sins have been remitted and covered, but they have not yet been completely cleansed away. Not only do the dregs of lust, pride, hatred, wrath, and other desires cling to us, but also inner evils and hidden stains, doubts about God, unbelief, impatience, and murmuring, which do not come out into the open until the conscience is troubled by the Law and by the terrors of sin. Although we pay no attention to these things and do not sob because of such a disgraceful fall, yet God sees them. Therefore He tries to purge our impure nature. This is what He thinks: ‘You have been enlightened and baptized; but you still stink, and your flesh is full of many great vices. Therefore I must cleanse it, for that which is unclean and polluted shall not enter the kingdom of heaven’ (cf. Rev. 21:27)

Martin Luther (AE 7:229)

As taken from: Engelbrecht, E. A. (2009). The Lutheran Study Bible (p. 2235). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.