Friday, July 10, 2020

The Great Revealer. . .

Nearly everyone on every theological side there can be presumes that Jesus came to reveal God to us – even those who do not believe Jesus is the Son of God!  Of course, the words to support this tenet of faith come from Jesus Himself.  He insists that He has come to make known the Father, that those who have seen and heard Him, have seen and heard the Father.  He does so not in arrogance but as the perfect servant whose own will is fully in accord with the will of Him who sent Him.  Jesus insists He does not speak His own words or do His own works but the words of the Father and the works of the Father.  It is explicit in His conversation with Thomas and Philip, among the rest of the apostles, and His insistence that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him.

But there is another side to this.  Before he was Pope John Paul II, he wrote that Christ came into the world to reveal man more fully to himself.  In other words, sin not only obscured our view of God or our understanding of who God is and what His will and purpose are, it also obscured our understanding of who we are and what our purpose is.  In restoring to us the God hidden to us because of sin, our Lord was also restoring to us the deep and profound sense of who we are, what our purpose is, why we are here at all, and what we are to do.

Without the revelation of Christ, we do not know who we are or why we are here.  We are like those who grope through darkness toward something they cannot see and will never see.  It does not mean we will live depraved lives or be diabolic or evil.  We may be fully good and righteous in the civil sense of this righteousness but all of this is temporary and outside the realm of God’s saving grace.  God’s revelation is not merely the light to shine on who we are and why we are here for this life, but who we are and what is the eternal shape of our lives.  Because we know the outcome of our lives, we are free to live this life without fear.  Because we know whose we are, we know who we are and live under Christ in His kingdom forevermore.  

This is also made known in another text from the Easter season periscopes.  If you love Me, keep my commandments.  In other words, the fruit of our encounter with the living God whom we meet in baptismal water and in the voice of His Word and in the bread and cup of His altar does not end with forgiveness.  Forgiveness of our sins has to happen before we are able, with clear conscience, to see who we are in Christ and what we are to be about.  Forgiveness must take place before our sinful hearts are able, under the power of the Spirit, to know and desire the things of God (His commandments).  Forgiveness must take place before our wills are set free to seek after the things of God (His commandments). 

Obedience was not dispensed with because of justification; obedience was made possible by justification.  This obedience of faith is sanctification.  It does not earn or merit anything special from God nor does this obedience contribute anything to what Christ has done to save us.  But it is the fruit of Christ’s saving work in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We cannot cooperate with God in our salvation but by the Holy Spirit’s work we can cooperate with God in His work of sanctification.  For us as Lutherans, this has often been a difficult thing for us to talk about, especially from the pulpit.  But sermons must not only preach our justification.  They must preach sanctification so that we may be guided by God’s Word to live the new life ours in Christ.

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