Kruiz edited
Why Shouldn't I Believe?
Patrick, Missionary to Ireland
17 March 2017
Being born again seems such an enormous miracle. Every day we experience how resistant people are to change; especially the change that includes the deep self-abasement of true repentance and the abandonment of self for trust in God. If we looked into our own hard hearts, we might have an even clearer view of the miracle of what God has worked through baptism; "that saved a wretch like me." We are "so not worth it." Yes, but that means that greater glory is ascribed to our heavenly Father. He has saved me, the lowest of the low, lifting me from the mud and mire to be called a son of God. That is what I am.
 
The miracle of rebirth through the washing of regeneration and the renewal by the Holy Spirit is small indeed when compared to the plan of our heavenly Father that His Son should become man and be crucified in our place. The Son of God is given to us by His being given over to death. The Son of God adopts us by adopting our flesh of Mary. The Son of God offers us life by offering Himself unto death. The Son of God serves by suffering to free us from slavery to the fear of suffering. The Son of God drinks down the tincture of death to provide us with the medicine of immortality. His work for us is a far greater miracle because the cost is so great. He trades His holiness for my filth.
 
The gap represented by the difference between his holiness and my sinfulness means that righteousness in the presence of God can only be received by faith. The gap can never be bridged by my own efforts or works. If God's Son has done all this for me, why shouldn't I believe that I have been born anew and am a son of God?

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
 
"You are wondering about this demand for a new birth (Jn 3:5-6) and about this deliverance from sin. You know very well that we are sinners and are lodged in the jaws of death. Hence it must sound odd and strange to you that we are to conquer sin and death and need not fear God's stern judgment and His wrath. Yes indeed, it is strange. But now behold! What is God's plan? The answer would never have occurred to you. Because of His divine wisdom, counsel, and mercy God gives His only-begotten Son, who is also the Son of man, as a remedy against sin, death, and your old nature and birth. The Son is given to us by dying for us and being buried for us. That, I take it, is another miracle and one far greater.
 
"If you are astonished and regard it as incredible that a man must be born anew, this greater wonder must amaze you still more. God loved a poor sinner so much that He gave him, not an angel or a prophet but His only Son. The way of His giving was that His Son became man, and the purpose of His giving was that He might be crucified. This you must learn; and after you have learned it and beheld these wonderful things, your heart will be forced to say: 'This is truly miraculous! How is it possible?' But if you can accept and believe it, you will conclude: 'After all, if God's Son is the cure and remedy for sin and death, why should I be surprised, since I know that God's Son is greater than sin, the devil and my death?' Just believe it, and you will experience that He is greater....
 
"If it puzzles you how a man is to be transferred from the devil's realm to the kingdom of God, God's gift of His Son must surprise you still more. And if you accept this in faith, you will no longer be puzzled about the other. If we have the Son of God, who faces death and opposes the devil on our behalf, on our side, let the devil rage as he will. If the Son of God died for me, let death consume and devour me; for he will surely have to return and restore me, and I will stand my ground against him. Christ died. Death devoured the Son of God. But in doing so death swallowed a thorn and had to get rid of it. It was impossible for death to hold Him. For this person is God; and since both God and man in one indivisible person entered into the belly of death and the devil, death ate a morsel that ripped his stomach open." 

Martin Luther, Sermons on John's Gospel, 3.16
Philippians 2:12-24

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
 
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. They all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.  
(ESV)
Prayer
Lord Christ, I want to let go, yet cannot loose my grip. Snatch me from myself that freed by You I might be free from myself and free to give myself for You. Amen.
 
For those who work at Concordia Publishing House, that Christ would loose them for service to the Church
 
For the laity of Memorial Lutheran Church, that Christ, the Good Shepherd, would strengthen them in their confession of the faith in the world
 
For George Papas, who is recovering from a heart attack, that the Lord Jesus would grant him strength and healing
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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