"He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)
The book of Acts begins with these words from Luke, "In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach..." Jesus' earthly ministry was only the beginning of His work. As we can see in throughout Acts, it is Jesus who is building His church. Jesus is always in His church, with His church, and works through His church. And He continues to be with, lead, and sanctify His church today.
Church is the place where you belong, but not because of the music, activities, or programs that may be offered. You belong in the church because you are a sinner. You belong in the church and have been placed into the church because you are a redeemed and baptized child of God. You belong in the church because God has graciously placed you into His Body through the work of His Son. The church is made up entirely of broken, sinful people who are loved and redeemed by Christ's life, death, and resurrection. It is the place where peace and forgiveness can be found because the church is where Christ is present through Word and Sacrament.
The prayer of the father in Mark 9, "I believe, help my unbelief" is a prayer I often find myself praying. It's honest. It's a cry to our Heavenly Father asking for the faith that is His alone to give. It's also a prayer that Jesus loves to answer, and the means by which He often answers this prayer is through the church. It was through the church, through water and the Word, that God baptized you and the Holy Spirit created faith in you. Jesus answers that prayer and fills our unbelieving hearts with faith. Whenever we remember our baptism, whenever the pastor declares the absolution of our sins, whenever we take the Lord's Body and Blood, God is working in, and softening our hearts of unbelief. It is through the church that Jesus does this. It is through the church that Jesus sustains and feeds our faith through His Word of Absolution and through the Lord's Supper.
Gene Edward Veith states, "[God] employs certain means by which He converts the lost and sustains His people...God's grace, the message of His love and forgiveness through Christ, come to people too, through the Sacraments, which are tangible manifestations of the Gospel." God loves and cares for us and our souls using the church as the means by which He baptizes, communes, and feeds His own. He washes us and places us into a body of believers in order to strengthen and sustain the faith He has created in us. After all, "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).
Kathy Strauch is a member of Faith Lutheran Church in Troy, Michigan and is a graphic designer.
Created: May 21st, 2016