Collect of the Week
O Lord, Father of all mercy and God of all comfort, You always go before and follow after us. Grant that we may rejoice in Your gracious presence and continually be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Galatians 1:11-12 (Part of Last Sunday’s Epistle Reading)
11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel.1 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
In the name of + Jesus.
The Gospel always comes to us from outside of us. That is to say, the Good News that our sin is paid for by Jesus’ death on the cross, is a message which does not find its source in the mind of man, not does it flow from anywhere within the heart of man. That God would take on flesh; that He who knew no sin would become sin; that our LORD would humble himself to the point of death; and that He would do it all while we were yet sinners, is the work of the mind of God alone. And because it flows from the mind of God, whose ways are higher than ours (Is 55:9), it must come to us from outside of us.
Paul calls it a revelation of Jesus Christ and, of course, his experience of receiving the Gospel—being forgiven and baptized—is quite unique. You can read that story in Acts 9. And yet, he also says that the gospel he preached, which is also the gospel he received, is not man’s gospel. And so, while the circumstances of his conversion are unique, the means by which he was converted are not. His conversion came through the Gospel itself, when he—a zealous persecutor of Christians—was forgiven his sins and baptized.
If the Gospel is the power of salvation for all who believe (and it is!). And the Gospel only comes from outside of ourselves (and it does!). Then regardless of the circumstances of your conversion to faith in Christ, it is always the work of God. It is always a gift of grace (Eph. 2:8-9). And that is what makes it the Gospel—something God freely gives to you because of Jesus—and not a work of the Law—something you do to please Him.
But since most of you who are reading this have already been converted to faith in Christ, consider also that the source of your conversion also happens to be the source of your sustenance. That is to say, the very means by which you first believed—the Gospel itself—is also the means by which you will continue to believe. In the meaning of the 3rd Article of the Apostles’ Creed, we confess not only that, “the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel,” but then we also confess that, “IN the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith” (emphasis added). Do you see that? The same way the Holy Spirit converts you to faith, He also keeps you in the faith.
You don’t have to convince yourself of the forgiveness of sins, or that salvation will be your eternal reward. That is what the Gospel is for. For wherever the Gospel is preached; where it is taught; where it is administered in Holy Baptism; wherever it is received in bread and wine, it comes to us from outside of us, so that we might hear of Christ, believe the Gospel, and be saved by faith.
In the name of + Jesus. Amen.
The Gospel shows the Father’s grace, Who sent His Son to save our race, Proclaims how Jesus lived and died That we might thus be justified. It is the pow’r of God to save From sin and Satan and the grave; It works the faith which firmly clings To all the treasures which it brings. May we in faith its message learn Nor thanklessly its blessings spurn; May we in faith its truth confess And praise the Lord, our righteousness (LSB 580, 1,4 &6).