Lent 2: “Blessings”
March 8th, 2020 – Romans 4:5-6
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Faith. Do you have faith? Sometimes we talk about the act of having faith as if it is some supernatural thing. The truth is that it is a quite natural human thing to have faith. All people have faith. The real God-given aspect is having that faith in the right thing. Faith is the thing you possess when you trust something. Trust is the action taken. For you grammar-lovers, faith is the noun and trust is the verb.
Some argue that babies cannot have faith in God because they cannot reason or understand until they hit a certain age to be able to have faith. When you realize that faith is having trust in someone it gets a lot easier to see how a baby can have faith. Babies demonstrate faith all the time when you see them hear the sound of their momma’s voice and are soothed by it or want to go to it. Or when a baby does not immediately start bawling their eyes out when somebody new holds them. They have faith that their parent will take care of them and feel comforted by their presence or that the new person holding them is not going to harm them. When a babies’ needs start rising in them and not getting met, their faith starts to dwindle. They might even start questioning if their parent is really going to take care of their needs. They cry out louder and louder to get what they need because they are hungry or have an uncomfortable diaper that needs to be addressed.
As the parent comes to them over and over again and addresses their needs, the child’s faith in their parent becomes stronger and stronger. Why? Because the parent is giving the baby a reason to have faith in them. The parent is showing up and acting so the baby can have that faith in their ability to take care of them. Unfortunately, the devil always sows seeds of doubt in the hearts of the child. The child, even after being taken care of over and over again, still does not always trust the parent will show up and take care of their needs. They ought to trust their parent, especially if the parent was so good they didn’t need to hear the baby ever cry to know their needs, but they don’t.
How does this relate to what is going on in church this morning other than the pastor having a new baby that is on his mind and he likes to talk about? It relates very closely to our readings this morning and the baptism we just witnessed.
You see, in God speaking to us this morning, we hear about Abram. Abram was not a perfect man. He was just like us. God showed up in his life and God told him all the things he would do for him to take care of him. Not because Abram did everything right, or even would do everything right, but purely as an undeserved gift from God to this man. What did Abram do when God told him this? He simply trusted what God had said and promised to do for him. God literally gave him the “thing” he needed in order to have faith in Him. God gave him a promise and God acted on it. Nothing radical happening here at its core. It is just someone trusting what someone else has said like people do all the time. It is like a baby who trusts the parent who tells them they love them and acts on it by taking care of them. You do not usually credit the baby for being so great by trusting what their parents have said and done.
But here we read in the epistle that God counts the one who trusts in Him as righteous. The one who has faith in His promises and actions is considered made right with God (Rom. 4:5). Amazing things here! God gives the faith and sustains it by acting on His promises and counts the person he gives this all to as righteous!
Born of Water and the Spirit
What promises has God made to us like this? What kind of covenants has he arranged for us that we have not deserved? God tells us what He has for us through Jesus’ words in the Gospel. He says that “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). And says that in order for them to be born again with water and the Spirit, the Son of Man must “be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14). Jesus tells us that He was sent into the world that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. He even commands us to “make disciples of all people, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19). Jesus, God Himself, tells us He loves us, forgives us by His death, and counts us as righteous when we trust in the promises He makes to us and trusts He does what He says He does.
This morning we saw God’s commands and promises in action toward my little boy, Boaz. Before this, Boaz heard of God in Divine Service and God would have given Him faith by speaking to him His Word as He explains in Romans (Rom. 10:17). God’s same word tells us to be baptized and we are made His children and take on Jesus’ own righteousness (Titus 3:5-7). So this is the beginning of the life God has given Boaz living in Jesus’ forgiveness. Boaz is our brother in Christ now because he is now counted as one of the saints like each one of us is.
Each of Us
We have all been made children of God through baptism and we are perfect forgiven saints. Before God, we are as perfect as Christ’s own body and so we live before God as His perfect Son. We hear His word. The trust we put in His promises and actions towards us in Christ are counted towards us as righteousness – even though it is all thanks to God that we have this gift of faith and even have a reason to trust in Him in the first place! It is by the Holy Spirit in us that we continue to hold fast to the promises He made us and by the Holy Spirit, we cry out to Him always trusting He will take care of our true needs for a perfect life that never ends.
Are you not baptized? Why not? There is nothing stopping you from being so. It is a free gift from God He gives us to be born again as perfect saints. It is a gift that gives us assurance of our connection to His Son who died on the cross for our sins. It is a way that He acts on His promises He makes towards us, gives us the Holy Spirit, and gives us trust in His Words.
May these blessings of trust in Him and baptism continue to sustain you in His never-ending blessings, until the resurrection of all flesh and into life that never ends.
In Jesus name,