Sunday, May 23, 2010
The Third Article.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; one holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
What does this mean?--Answer.
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.*
Much wind is used. Much ink is spilled. All in the hopes of showing the Christian what his or her part they have in sanctification. This is incorrect for we see in scripture who does the sanctifying.
1 Peter 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure. ESV
Yes the believer does good works. Due to the working of the Holy Spirit he brings us into and keeps us in our Lord Jesus. Without his working the words of scripture read and preached would bounce off of deaf ears for we would never be able to receive it. The words of St Peter later in his letter “baptism now saves you also” become meaningless. And Jesus’ words “This is my body and This cup is the new covenant in my blood” are as equally ridiculous.
For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel. The work is done and accomplished; for Christ has acquired and gained the treasure for us by His suffering, death, resurrection, etc. But if the work remained concealed so that no one knew of it, then it would be in vain and lost. That this treasure, therefore, might not lie buried, but be appropriated and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to go forth and be proclaimed, in which He gives the Holy Ghost to bring this treasure home and appropriate it to us. Therefore sanctifying is nothing else than bringing us to Christ to receive this good, to which we could not attain of ourselves. **
Holy Spirit, Praise your name for delivering to us the benefits of the cross of Jesus. Grant to us true repentance for our slowness of hearts to believe all that you have for us. Amen †
* Small Catechism of Martin Luther Article 3 of The Apostles’ Creed
** Martin Luther’s Large Catechism Article 3 of The Apostles’ Creed