Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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March 2 – Christ is Our Everything

“He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, Whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” 1 Cor. 1:30,31

Devotional Thought For The Day

I have a friend who is perhaps not a close friend, but I’ve always considered him a good friend.  We have email dialogues from time to time – about God, Christ, what Christ has done for us, God’s salvation, about our sanctification [good works, works of the Law, love], and the peculiarities of certain religious practices. These exchanges are quite helpful for me, for they force me to clarify further the realities asserted by God’s Word – and to enunciate the truth, reality, as clearly as I can. This can be frustrating – for it is extremely difficult to be careful about words, and really, no Words are as clear as those God caused to be written down in Holy Scripture, the Bible, for our instruction and learning. We’ve all had this frustration in explaining true faith in Christ to others.

My friend came up with a very good analogy for the processes of faith, salvation, and sanctification – one that makes perfect sense to human beings, and one that we are sorely tempted to adopt as our own conception of the “reality.” He likened our salvation to a “ladder” which Christ has provided for us. We’re in a deep pit – of sin and guilt, and we’re incapable of getting out of the pit. But Christ has lowered a “ladder” into the pit, so that by His grace we may climb the ladder and get out of the pit.  The ladder is good “works,” those prescribed by the Word of God in the Law God has given to us through Moses. So, climbing this ladder is a process of becoming more sanctified [“holy”], and by doing this we are “saved” from the pit.

I have to say that although this “view” of reality makes sense to us, it is in fact part of the darkness of the pit of sin that we are afflicted with. Yes, that ladder of “works” and following God’s Law has always been available to human beings. Many human beings have put their “faith” in this ladder, and have trusted that they can climb out of the pit – with God’s help, by His grace.  But their faith is in that ladder, and in themselves, their ability to climb, to do something.  Thus, their faith cannot be in Christ, and they cannot be trusting that He has saved them, for they believe they are yet to be saved, and must do something to save themselves.

In contrast to this “ladder faith” which makes so much sense to our fallen minds, are the Words of God, His assertions of what is true and real, in these verses.  First, that there is to be no boasting except “in the Lord.” That is, it is God alone Who gets glory, honor, credit, praise.  This excludes all boasting in ourselves, which means that we can do nothing that is laudable, either for our salvation, or “climbing” the ladder of good works.  After all, “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” [Is. 64:6] Even the best things we do are “as filthy rags,” and therefore worthy of no praise, honor, credit, or merit. In fact, they do not even originate in us or from us, for it is love that is “the fulfilling of the law” [Rom. 13:10], and “we love because He first loved us.” [1 John 4:19] In other words, apart from Christ, faith in Christ and knowledge of His love for us, His free gift of life and salvation, “we can do nothing.” [John 15:5]

So God has made it clear, that He has made Christ Jesus to be “our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” This is no ladder, but rather an escalator or elevator.  Our salvation, our being rescued from the pit?  Christ has done this for us, and Christ alone, so we “boast” or “glory” in Him alone, that He has saved us by His work alone. Our righteousness, which we must have to be in proper relationship with God?  God has made Christ to be our righteousness – so that we need no other righteousness, certainly not our own [which is as filthy rags anyway], and so we “boast” in Christ alone. But what about our “sanctification,” the process of becoming more like God, more holy and good?  Again, God has made Christ “our sanctification,” the power by which we “bear much fruit,” so the glory goes to Him alone.  But what about our “wisdom” and understanding?  Again, God has made Christ alone to be our wisdom – it is in the face of Jesus Christ that God shines His glory into our hearts, so that Christ alone gets all the glory, honor, credit and praise.

So the “ladder” and the “escalator” [that is, Christ] remain before us, we who are in the basement and pit of sin and guilt, as means by which we get back to God.  People will either put faith in the “ladder” [which makes sense to our darkened sinful minds], or they will trust in Christ.  It cannot be both.  You cannot be both riding the escalator and also climbing the ladder; it is one or the other. Christians trust in Christ; adherents of every mere religion in the world are trusting in themselves, that they will be able to climb the ladder. God’s Word says that Christ is the only way back to Him, the only way of salvation, through simple faith and trust in Christ. God’s Word also says that no one can climb the ladder, that this is futile and is in fact rebellion against Him, rejection of Christ. The “good works” of the “ladder climbers” are done for their own benefit, to get them out of the pit, but “love does not seek its own” – so these “works” are not done out of love. But love is the fulfilling of the Law, so loveless works are not “good,” not fulfilling the Law, but are really evil and rebellious.  So, the strong emphasis of the “ladder climbers” on doing good, is actually a strong delusion and a strong rebellion against God and His Christ.

Beware then, of this inborn stubborn notion that we must trust ourselves – and also have some ground of boasting or glorying in ourselves. It is of the devil, and rejects Christ and God, the only True and Living God. The ladder is good, strong, and sturdy, but God has said it – the escalator [Christ Jesus] is the only way out of the pit.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, how easily the rebellious notion of self-determination and self-reliance corrupts our thinking, so that we glory in ourselves rather than glorying in You alone. Help us to clearly understand our dire predicament, and what You have done to lift us out of the pit, so that we put full faith, trust, and confidence in You alone for all things – and give all glory, honor, praise, and worship to You alone. Amen.