“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.” (Explanation of the Third Article, Apostle’s Creed)
In the Name of Jesus. Amen. Did you decide for Jesus? Did you make a decision for Him? Did you make Him your Lord?
No, you didn’t. You didn’t come to Jesus on your own, you didn’t make Him your Lord, you didn’t believe in Him all by yourself. Add to your Lenten fast the thinking that you decide for Jesus! Fast from that!
We are dead, born dead in our trespasses and sins. We are dead to God and dead to serving one another. We are unable to make ourselves alive by our own efforts. There is no spark of life, no good thing inside of us, nothing which could turn us toward God. On the contrary, our fallen nature is God’s enemy, at war with God, hating Him.
Christ does two things to save us. First, He perfectly keeps the Law and all its demands. Then, He takes on our sin, He takes on our disobedience to the Law, and dies our death. His death is the propitiation, the shield, which shelters us from the wrath of God. God directs all of His wrath at His enemy, at us, but Jesus steps in the way and takes on all of it for us. On Easter Morning, Jesus rises from the dead.
But Christ’s death and resurrection wouldn’t be of any benefit to us at all without the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ salvation would be a thing stuck in the past, if the Holy Spirit didn’t deliver it to you--in the time and place where you are today.
The Spirit calls you by the Gospel. He enlivens you with His gifts. What are the gifts of the Spirit? The Word and Sacraments! The Word, Holy Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Holy Absolution all deliver to you the Holy Spirit. The Spirit works in you faith--faith in the Word!
Faith, which is receiving gifts from God, flows from the Word. It doesn’t come from you. It doesn’t come from some spark of goodness inside of you.
Christ’s salvation saves you. Christ’s salvation is delivered to you by the Holy Spirit in Word and Sacraments. The gifts are the means, the instruments, in which the Holy Spirit works faith for you.
You can find the Holy Spirit and His enlivening work right where He promises to be! Find Him in the Word and Sacraments. There you will receive the Spirit delivering to you what Jesus did for you on the Cross.
Do you believe in Jesus? Yes, you do! That’s the work of the Spirit, not you. Every day, by the enlivening of the Spirit in you, you decide to follow Jesus. That deciding is not on your own, it’s the work of the Spirit.
So let’s watch the Spirit do His work today: Christ died for you and rose for you. Your sins are forgiven. Your “Amen” is the work of the Holy Spirit, too. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.