Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

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Lafayette, CO 80026
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November 15 – The Ministry Of Death And The Ministry Of The Spirit

“Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory.  Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.  Since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” 2 Cor. 3:7-12

Devotional Thought For The Day

In these verses the apostle Paul is contrasting the “ministry of death,” the giving of the law, including preeminently the Ten Commandments [“carved in letters on stone”] with the glorious Gospel of God’s gracious mercy, forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life through faith in the Savior Jesus Christ [“the ministry of the Spirit”].  Both had glory, were given with glory, God’s glory, and both are the Word and work of God.  However, one comes to an end while the other is “permanent” and has even greater glory – “if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.”  What is permanent is the reality of God’s love, His forgiveness and pardon of all our sins, and the renewing power of His love [which will ultimately remove the need for a written code of law for God’s people, when we are “like Him” because we see Him as He is – 1 John 3:3, for “the law is not made for the righteous man” – 1 Tim. 1:9]

Note that the ministry of the Law is a “ministry of death.”  The reality is that “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” [2 Cor. 3:6]  All of this clarifies the place and function of the law until faith comes – “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.” [Gal. 3:24,25] The preaching and ministration of the Law serves to kill, not to give life – it convicts us of our sin, shows us that we deserve nothing but God’s condemnation, and destroys all pretense that we can be saved by anything that we do, including even our most “righteous” acts, since “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” [Is. 64:6] Therefore anyone who advocates the Law as the way by which we are commended to God, as the way of salvation, is delusional – knowing neither the Law [which kills and condemns and is being “brought to an end”] nor the true Gospel of God’s gracious mercy and forgiveness – the ministry of God’s gift of righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ.

The ministry of the Gospel, the assurance that for Christ’s sake God accounts us to be righteous in His sight, perfectly righteous with the covering of Christ’s own righteousness, simply because He loves us and is full of mercy, forgiveness, and steadfast love – this ministry is of the Spirit, and is permanent, and has far more glory than that of the Law.  It fills us with hope [which the Law can never do because the Law constantly accuses sinful human beings and condemns us], the hope of eternal life, salvation, and eternal glory in God’s heavenly kingdom.  Further, such hope in God’s gracious love makes us bold, very bold – knowing our Father’s great love for us, His cleansing away of all our sin and guilt in the blood of Jesus, His own dear Son.  Such boldness is not “self-righteousness,” but just the opposite – it is based in trust in God’s love, His promises, the assurances of His own Word, and therefore it does not create any pride or arrogance.  Neither does such boldness impel us toward sin – perish such a thought, but rather moves us to great love, decency, and goodness in life, in honor of and deference to our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who have loved us with such a glorious love!

The sinful mind of man sees glory only in human accomplishment, and craves such glory, even if such glory requires denial of reality.  The real glory however, comes only through “the ministry of the Spirit,” the ministry of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. To sinful man this looks weak, pitiful, and pathetic – to yield completely to the Word of God and to have faith only in Him, in His merciful love.  But what looks glorious to man is in reality “the ministry of death.”  I pray that you have the boldness of knowing God’s love, and that you are very bold in this, for then you are also “beholding the glory of the Lord,” and “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another,”  and “this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” [2 Cor. 3:18] There is no greater blessedness and no greater glory than this!

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, help us to fully grasp and understand the glory of Your great love for us, that having been put to death by Law we might cling only to the gift of life which You have given to us in Your suffering and death on the cross, and in Your glorious resurrection.  Fill us with this hope, and make us very bold in Your gracious love – that we may be transformed into Your glorious image.  Amen.