Reflections: June 1, 2020
By Alexander Lange
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. God gave up His only Son because He loves the world. Yes, Jesus took away the sins of the world. He didn't merely die for the elect. Because of His death, God's vengeance has been stayed, and He forgives every sinner.
Yet not all the world will be saved. Many sinners will perish eternally. Many sinners will be condemned. Faith is necessary for salvation. People will only be saved if they depend on the Savior. Jesus gives eternal life to them, and trust in Jesus alone receives that eternal life as free gift from Him.
A king could pardon every criminal in his kingdom and the guards could open every prison cell at his command. Unfortunately, such grace will do the prisoner no good if he refuses to believe the good news, crosses his arms, and stays in his cell.
I can buy my entire Confirmation class bottles of soda. Unfortunately, some students might be too proud to accept this free gift or they might be skeptical. "Are we allowed to drink soda in class? Is he trying to trick us?" Their thirst won’t be quenched unless they trust me and receive the gift.
In other words, justification is both objective and subjective at the same time. It is an objective fact: Jesus Christ died for you and His blood cleanses you from all your sins. The Word of Absolution objectively delivers that forgiveness right to you—into your ears and soul! Justification is also subjective. It is received by every individual believer through faith in Christ alone.
Thankfully, the same God who sent Jesus to die for your sins also sent the Spirit to you in the waters of Holy Baptism. Through parents, pastors, and other Christians, the Spirit delivers the Gospel to you. Through your pastor, parents, and other Christians, the Gospel and the Word of forgiveness come to you, and the Spirit continues to work on you to strengthen your faith. In fact, the faith that believes in Jesus and trusts what He done for us at Calvary and in His Gifts—that faith is a free gift of the Holy Spirit. Through His work you receive Jesus’ salvation, trust Him, and are justified.
Through the means of the Spirit—Word, water, Body and Blood—You believe in the crucified and raised Jesus, and "whoever believes in him is not condemned" (John 3:18). In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
O God, who gave Your Holy Spirit to the apostles, grant us that same Spirit that we may live in faith and abide in peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Pentecost Monday)
- Rev. Alexander Lange is pastor of Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church in Albany, Oregon.
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