By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
How Do We Get There?
When I was a sophomore in college, I drove my friend Steve to his home in Iowa for a long weekend. I had no idea how to get there and he didn’t really know either. We had a general idea, but we decided to have a little fun with the trip.
We planned on taking back roads and just go south and west until we got there. That was the general direction of his home in Iowa and we set out.
We did this for about four hours and were just about a lost as you can get and still be within a couple of hours drive from our destination. This was before cell phones and GPS and we didn’t really care.
We were not on a tight schedule. The weather was pretty good. And it was a very pleasant drive in October in the Midwest.
But until we were given explicit directions, I don’t think we were going to make it to his house.
Salvation By Faith
Now, this isn’t a perfect analogy – as all analogies break down at some point – but it is kind of the way salvation works.
We can drive to achieve salvation on our own. Oh, we can have a general inkling of where to find God. We can head in the direction we think God is.
But unless we are called and enlightened by the Holy Spirit, we will never find God and never be saved on our own.
The reason for this is because all people are conceived and born in sin. Which means, apart from the Holy Spirit, we are all spiritually blind and dead. St. Paul writes, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
While we have physical life, without the Holy Spirit we actively resist God’s call to us through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We cannot be saved unless the Holy Spirit creates and sustains saving faith in us. Faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God.
The Good News
The good news is this is exactly what the Holy Spirit wants to do! He is actively pursuing us.
Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit invites us and enables us to believe in Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ, who was born for us, lived perfectly for us, died for us, rose from the dead for us and ascended for us to live forever with him in paradise, sends the Holy Spirit to give us the faith to believe this.
The Holy Spirit does this through the means of grace – God’s Word, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.
The church word for this is “sanctification.”
“The Holy Spirit then sanctifies me (makes me holy) by strengthening my faith and increasing its fruits within my life. This includes giving me new desires so that I strive to overcome sin and do good works” (An Explanation of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, Field Test Edition, July 2016 © 2016 Concordia Publishing House, pg 91).
Heavenly Father, help me to have faith in your directions. So often, I find myself not knowing which way to go. I pray that I will trust that you do, and will reveal the direction exactly when I need it. Thank you for my faith and the power to trust in you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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