12 March 2014

The God Who Saves You for Life with Himself

The Lord Jesus Christ is your true and only God, who has brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery into the freedom of faith, into the household and family of His Father. You shall have no other gods than Him. For there is life in no one else, and there is no other name by which you shall be saved.

Call upon the Name of this Lord Jesus; look to Him for all that you need, and for all good things; trust Him and rely upon Him, and proceed in such faith and confidence. Know that He is with you, that He loves you, and that He will help you in the future, as in the past. For the sake of His great mercy and compassion, He shall not leave you, not ever, but He will save you from sin, death, the devil and hell; He will rescue you from every evil of body and soul.

As surely as He has borne your sins in His own Body on the Cross, laid down His life and shed His blood for you as the Lamb of God, and risen from the dead, so surely does He conquer all your enemies, cleanse you from all unrighteousness, and bring you out of death and the grave into His own life everlasting. As He has ascended to the right hand of His God and Father in heaven, so does He seat you with Himself in the heavenly places, even now, and forever and ever.

He is your hope, your faith and life, your strength and your song, as He has become and ever is your salvation.

Cling to Him, therefore, and worship Him alone — and the Father and the Holy Spirit in Him — with your heart and mind, your soul and body. As you have been baptized in His Name, into His Cross and Resurrection, by the washing of water with His Word, so confess His Name in both your words and actions, and pray in His Name to your Father in heaven, by the grace of His Holy Spirit, as He has taught you and invited you to pray.

Let your whole life, also, be a confession of Christ Jesus and a prayer of faith in Him. With your body worship Him in reverence and humility before Him, in fear, love and trust in Him above all else, and so in loving and self-sacrificing service to your neighbor.

Do not make or worship any other gods, nor attempt to be a god unto yourself. That is to say, do not put your hope and confidence in yourself, nor anyone else, nor anything else, but in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of the Father. Do not invest yourself, your heart and mind, your time and energy in anything apart from His Word. Do not give your body over to that which His Word forbids, nor to that which He has not given to you, but exercise and train your body to live unto righteousness according to His Word. Likewise, do not speak except as He has spoken, that all your words might be good and right and true, and so glorify the Lord your God.

It is a matter of living in His house, as a child and heir of God the Father. It is a matter of resting in His gracious providence, abiding in His peace, receiving His good gifts, being cared for and protected by the One who loves you and bestows His own life upon you. It is a matter of finding your own place, your refuge and your home, with Him who has called you to Himself in Christ and called you by His own Name, adopting you for the sake of His love and granting you a glorious inheritance forever.

The rules of His household and family are not a new kind of slavery or bondage, though your old Adam is constrained and constricted by such rules. Children in this fallen world do not always honor their fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters do not always love each other and care for one another as they should. Therefore the rules of the Father's house so order things for the benefit of one and all, that wickedness and hurt and harm may be curbed, and that help may be given and good promoted. So, too, the rules of the house aim to keep you close to your Father and your family, to guard and keep you safe from danger, and to provide for you the rhythm and stability of real life in the peace and harmony of Christ, your Savior.

Thus, His rules set before you the good life that Christ Jesus has lived for you, which He has given and still gives to you in His Ministry of the Gospel. The Father invites you into that life, as it is established and steadfast in the beloved Son, who continues to bear the good fruits of that life, so that you might eat and drink and live with Him.

He jealously guards you against the false gods that would entice or force you away from Him, which promise life but have nothing but death and despair to share with you. He invites you to pray, and teaches and encourages you to pray, and even commands you to pray, that you should thereby learn to speak and live by faith in Him who is your true and only God. So does He also call you daily back to your Sabbath Rest in Him, to His Word and His good works. For He would feed you at His Table and give you peaceful sleep in the bed that He has made for you, in your own room in your dear Father's house.

The pillow upon which your heart and soul, your mind and body rest is the sweet forgiveness of His Gospel. For He Himself loves you in the way that He commands you to love your neighbors, your brothers and sisters, and in such love He also forgives you all your sins. He does not hold your trespasses against you, but as His mercies are new every morning, so is your Father's house always open to you. Your place at His Table remains, and your Sabbath Rest in Christ Jesus, the Incarnate Son.

Such love and forgiveness are the good fruits of His good tree, which He bears for you in His mercy and perfect faithfulness.

By these He does not hurt nor harm you in body or soul, but He gives you His own life.

He does not rob you, but He gives you Himself and all the treasures of His Kingdom.

He is an ever-faithful husband, who cherishes and cares for you as a member of His beloved Bride. Where you have strayed, as often as you have turned away from Him to other gods, He woos you back to Himself, and reconciles you to Himself, and welcomes you home to His strong arms and loving embrace.

With His Word He forgives you, enlightens you, teaches you all things and gives to you His Holy Spirit, and defends you against all the assaults and accusations of the devil. He covers your shame with His honor. He speaks well of you and credits you with His own righteousness.

This is the firm foundation of His Father's house, which stands fast on earth as it is in heaven, and which shall not be blown away or wrecked by wind and wave, by hurricanes or floods. For all the Law and the Prophets have been fulfilled in Him, in His Incarnation, in His flesh and blood, in His Cross and Resurrection, in His faith and love. He has kept and still keeps the rules of the house for you, so that His Sabbath Rest remains and His good life continues for you, and that shall not be shaken or removed.

That is why the Word of Christ has such authority. He does not simply interpret or teach the Law, but He has kept and fulfilled the Law — and His fulfillment of the whole Law, of the Ten Commandments and all that His Father has spoken, has become His Gospel to and for you. Thus does He forgive your sins — your faults and failings, your breaking of the Law and your neglect of faith and love. As He has given Himself for you in atonement for all that has been wrong, so does He give Himself to you in peace, in mercy and compassion, to repair what has been broken, to set right whatever is amiss, to fill up whatever is lacking, and to bring you home.

Do not be afraid. The Lord has set you free, but He shall not let you go. You are His own beloved, and He truly is the Lord your God. As He has brought you out of slavery, so shall He bring you in freedom into the good land of His heaven. Even now, in the midst of the wilderness, He is with you, and He shall never leave you nor forsake you.

The One who promises is faithful, and He shall do it.

His peace be with you.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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