Good day to you! Yesterday was my birthday! Today we will be covering the fourth part of our series on “Chief Articles of the Faith” and will take a look at the third article of the Apostles Creed along with Martin Luther’s explanation of it as found in the Small Catechism.
“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting, Amen.”
What does this mean?
Luther answers, “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.
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.
In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers.
On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.
This is most certainly true.
In this final segment of the Apostles Creed we confess that our salvation is completely and entirely the gracious work of God. He is doing all the verbs pertinent to our salvation. He calls. He gathers. He enlightens. He sanctifies. He keeps. In this way the Gospel is entirely based on the persons and actions of God. God creates, preserves and provides for us. God the Son, through his life, death and resurrection has won salvation for us and for the whole world. This salvation, consisting of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, is delivered to us individually in time and space by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God and the means of grace (these will be explained in later blogs).
The fact that salvation is A. completely and entirely the gracious work of God and B. delivered to us individually does not mean that all people are saved nor does it negate the importance of the church. On the contrary the scriptures teach that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The sinful nature of humankind is hostile to the things of God – the crucifixion of Christ stands as proof enough. Many, because of their sin, reject the Lord Jesus Christ and with him the gifts He has to offer. In the Creed we do not confess that all people are saved, we confess that all people are sinful and in need of saving. We cannot save ourselves. We also do not confess our independence from the church. Instead we declare that it is through the actions of God alone that we can be included in the church. Further we maintain that in His Church, in the body of Christ, God delivers and preserves in us the Holy Christian faith which receives and clings to the forgiveness of sins and eternal life found only in Jesus. Have a blessed day.