By Kathy Strauch
What do you believe? In the Divine Service we confess what we believe using the words of the Apostle’s creed. We proclaim the truths of Scripture. But, why do you believe?
Jesus loved teaching by asking questions. On one occasion He asked His disciples a simple yet critical question, “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15) Peter, per usual, was the first to open his mouth in response. Without beating around the bush, he was unwavering in his confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:15)
Peter was confident of his assertion—at the time. Peter’s courage would fail, not once, not even twice, but three times in a single night. He denied even knowing Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God, as he confessed.
The beauty for me in this text is not Peter’s tenacious confession. Jesus’ words in response to His disciple’s proclamation is what gives me comfort.
“And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17)
Jesus pronounces a blessing on Peter. However, Jesus does not praise Peter himself for his confession, but His Father in heaven. This confession of faith did not originate with Peter. It was given to him.
We, like Peter are blessed because of the faith we have been given, and our confession which follows. Since the fall, unbelief is our natural disposition. We cannot create faith within ourselves, that’s the work and gift of the Holy Spirit.
Martin Luther beautifully articulates this in the third article of the Apostle’s creed when he writes,
“I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”
The Spirit creates faith and sustains faith through the Gospel—through the Word and sacraments. In the waters of our Baptism we were given the faith we confess. Through the hearing of the Word and the Lord’s Supper, He feeds and preserves the faith He created.
Through the Divine Service, the Spirit works through these means to sanctify and keep His saints in the true faith. For this reason, the church is perpetually confessing her faith. Hermann Sasse affirms this when he writes,
“Christ’s church is always a confessing church. Not only does each Christian confess his personal faith, but the church, the whole company of believers, gives testimony of the revelation that has happened. Out of such consensus of faith, worked by the Holy Spirit, is a true confession born.”
So, why do you believe in God the Father, in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord, and in the Holy Spirit? You believe for the same reason Peter believed and confessed. It was revealed to you and me by our Heavenly Father who loves us, sent His Son for us, and sends His Holy Spirit to us to comfort us with His Gospel gifts.
Kathy Strauch is a member of Faith Lutheran Church in Troy, Michigan and is a graphic designer.
Created: November 14th, 2017