Thursday, February 4, 2016

How Can They Believe?

 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? [3] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:13-17 (ESV)
“So faith comes from hearing.” The act of election is not an event in the distant past, a roll call taken before time in which God arbitrarily condemns some and saves others. God’s election happens in and through the preaching of his word and the administration of his sacraments here in time. This is why our confessions say the church is to be found where the gospel is preached and the sacraments are administered according to Christ’s institution. We trust that the Holy Spirit is at work there calling people by the gospel and forgiving sins. This is sanctification, the concreted application of justification, which is always objective and universal.

Furthermore, this is why Christ has instituted his church, to see that this work is done. This is the purpose of the church. And this is why one can’t truly be Christian and voluntarily separate himself from the church. Sure, there are times when a Christian finds himself without a church that he can be a part of. However, this is normally not the case. Being a member of a local congregation is in and of itself and act of Christian love. It is a recognition that God has given us all different gifts, but has also incorporated us all into his body to be one with one another. It is an act of forgiveness to receive forgiveness with fellow sinners. And more than that it is a recognition that the work God has entrusted to the church is work that is necessary for your community also. It is love also for your neighbor who isn’t a Christian and perhaps resents the presence of the church in his community. Here God is at work creating Christians. 

I'm going to add to this a bit. Pastors can't work without a congregation to support them. Pastors often get a lot of credit for the work they do. But realize this, when you see a baby being baptized, that happened because of your offerings. When you see families becoming members of your congregation that is the Lord blessing your work in that congregation. The pastor may be the primary individual involved in evangelism, but it is you who make that work possible. We can't all deliver pizzas to each other. Neither can we all be pastors, nor can we all be lay people. And if we work hard at our vocations and attend our families needs it is perhaps unrealistic to think that we should also be knocking on doors. Perhaps, we have time and inclination to do that, perhaps we don't. It doesn't mean that we are any less valued by God, or that we aren't pulling our part. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am what I am. Attending a religious institution does not include or exclude me from the Body of Christ. I am a member of the Body of Christ because God gave me a realization of His Spirit and the resurrection of His Son displaying the nature of love and mercy possessed by the Godhead.
No, I don't attend religious institutions, even though I once led them as a pastor. God called me out of all that as He teaches me outside of the scope of their influence and schemes to wrangle me beneath their false doctrines and control. I fellowship with others, but not under the influence of denominations and hierarchies that promote the false teachings of eternal torment for sins, when God already showed us his love for us, despite or sin, through his son on the cross. Such hideous and grotesque teachings emanate from these hierarchies and Father told me to get out from among them (Heb. 13:13) I hope for understanding to come as you continue to seek truth, not the doctrines of men.