† The Gospel, Part 2 †
The one, true eternal and all-powerful God came into our world to live, suffer, die and rise again for us. We, who are unholy and unrighteous, receive the forgiveness of all our sins and thus receive the perfect holiness and righteousness of Christ our Saviour—as a free gift—purely because of His love for us. That is good news! That is the Gospel!
How do we receive this great salvation in our lives today?
How do we personally receive the forgiveness Christ won for the entire world? How does what happened on the cross nearly 2,000 years ago flow into our lives today?
Here too there is very good news. God, through His Gospel, offers us forgiveness and help against sin in more than one way. God is surpassingly rich in His grace. He gives His Gospel to us through His Word, through Baptism, through the Sacrament of the Altar, and through confession and absolution. These are the ways God enters our lives today to apply to us personally the great salvation Christ won for the world.
The Holy Spirit works through the Word of the Gospel to create and sustain faith in our heart that Christ is the Saviour of the world, and thus our Saviour too. The Bible is the Word of God, written down for our learning and edification. The Scriptures are filled with the good news of Jesus Christ and all that He has done for us. Through the almighty, Spirit-filled Word, God gathers us into His church, which is truly the mother that begets and bears every Christian through the Word of God. The Holy Spirit is present, effective and active through the Word when it is proclaimed, heard and meditated upon.
The Sacrament of Holy Baptism is water included in God’s command and combined with God’s Word; or as St. Paul says in Holy Scripture, “The washing of water with the word.” Through Baptism, we are made partakers of Christ’s death and resurrection. Therefore, we know that Baptism works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal life to all who believe. Since Baptism is connected to the Word and promise of God, it is truly a life-giving water, rich in grace—a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit.
Christ has provided a special application of the Gospel through confession and absolution. Confession is admitting our sins to God and receiving His forgiveness from our pastor, as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven. Thus, by divine ordinance, Christ Himself has entrusted absolution to His Christian church and commanded us to absolve one another from sins.
The Lord’s Supper is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself, for us Christians to eat and to drink. In the Lord’s Supper, Christ’s body and blood are given to us as our treasure and gift which sustains our faith and life in Him. If you are heavy-laden and feel your weakness, go joyfully to the Sacrament and receive refreshment, comfort and strength.
Those who want to be forgiven by God and who want to enjoy His presence in their lives, hunger and thirst for the Word and Sacraments. With the Psalmist we say, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” God has provided the means to receive Him. So, Christians hunger and thirst for God’s Word, absolution, the Sacrament, etc. We have the certainty that God meets us and gives us what we need in His means of grace. The forgiveness Christ won for the world on the cross is applied to us personally by God through His Word and Sacraments. What a joy for us to know that where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.
Thus, we believe that we cannot, by our own reason or strength, believe in Jesus Christ our Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel, enlightens us with His gifts, sanctifies and keeps us in the true faith. n the same way, He calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all of our sins, and the sins of all believers.
from Dr. A.L. Barry’s “What About the Gospel?”
† You have Redeemed Me, a Lost and Condemned Person! †
Lord Jesus Christ, You are true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary. You have redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with Your holy, precious blood and with Your innocent suffering and death. Give me to believe that You did this in order that I may be Your own, and live under You in Your kingdom, and serve You in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as You have risen from the dead, live and reign to all eternity; for You with the Father and the Holy Spirit are one God, now and forever. Amen.
† You have Called Me by the Gospel! †
O Holy Spirit, I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but You have called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with Your gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way You call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify the whole Christian Church on earth, and keep it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. Give me to know that in this Christian Church You daily and richly forgive all my sins and the sins of all believers, and on the Last Day You will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ; for You with the Father and the Son together are worshiped and glorified, one God, now and forever. Amen.
adapted from Luther’s Small Catechism
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