Today's Reading: Galatians 4:21-31
Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. (Galatians 4;21-22)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. There is a natural tendency to make God into a God of the Law. He has commandments. You had better keep them. And if you break them, you had better try harder. Sometimes, Christians make the mistake of thinking along these lines: "Well, salvation is a gift, but once you're saved, you have to keep the Law and become a better person." If you've ever thought that, then listen up. Do you hear the Law? The Law says to be perfect! Are you? Do you really want to leave it up to yourself to keep the Law perfectly?
Abraham tried it the Law way: the way of his own efforts, own works, and own ideas. He tried to make God do what he wanted. The Lord said he would have a kid, but he hadn't yet, so he had one with his maidservant. But the son of the promise was Isaac, born when Abraham and Sarah were old and beyond their child-bearing years. It was a miracle birth they couldn't bring about themselves.
Salvation is the same way. There is the way of salvation in which we try to keep the commandments and justify ourselves. There, Jesus is just an example to follow and the cheerleader who urges us on to a better life. Or there is the way of the promise--the way of the cross, where Jesus takes your place, sacrificing Himself for you, rises from the dead and then washes you, feeds you, and fills your ears with His Word. That's the way of a gift. That's the way of a promise.
The Lord's salvation doesn't depend on you. Thanks be to God! It depends on Jesus, and His perfect life, death, and resurrection mean the gift and promise are sure. Now you, baptized into Christ, are a child of the promise. You have been born again from above, not by your efforts or choice, but by the grace and mercy of God which is yours in Christ Jesus. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Lord, 'tis not that I did choose Thee; That, I know, could never be; For this heart would still refuse Thee Had Thy grace not chosen me. Thou hast from the sin that stained me Washed and cleansed and set me free And unto this end ordained me, That I ever live to Thee. (Lord, 'Tis Not That I Did Choose Thee, LSB 573:1)