Sunday, May 07, 2006

Christian Faith: The Basics, Part 4

[In this series, I'm exploring the basics of Christian faith, using the structure of Martin Luther's Small Catechism. In its most widely-used format, it's composed of five chief parts, each part built around a specific topic: The Ten Commandments; The Apostles' Creed; The Lord's Prayer; The Sacrament of Holy Baptism; and The Sacrament of Holy Communion. Of course, the entire Catechism is meant to summarize the Bible's teachings; Lutherans have always believed that the Bible is the authoritative source and norm of our life, faith, and practice.]

We can trust the promises of God because of the way He gets involved in our lives.

In the last post of this series, I showed that before God issued the first of the Ten Commandments, He made a breathtaking promise. "I am the Lord your God," He said.

But how could the people to whom God first gave the commandments know that He would keep those promises?

God gives the answer in the very verse in which He makes the promise:
"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery..." (Exodus 20:2)
"You can believe that I will be your God no matter what," God told the ancient Hebrews, "because I'm the One Who miraculously freed you from your centuries-long bondage to the Pharaoh.

"I'm the One Who sent the ten plagues that finally caused that stone-hearted, egotistical ruler of Egypt to let you go.

"I'm the One Who, after the Pharaoh changed his mind about the decision to set you free and was chasing after you with his armies, made a way for you to escape through the Red Sea where there had been no way."

God certified His promise to be the Hebrews' Lord by pointing to His past involvement in their lives.

Centuries later, God would give the whole human race reason to believe that He will be our steadfast Lord. It happened when God Himself walked the earth in the person of Jesus Christ. He voluntarily accepted the punishment of death we deserve for breaking our relationship with Him by sinning against Him, equivalent to a man dependent on an oxygen tank to live willfully cutting the hose leading to his lungs.

Through Christ, God gets involved in our lives, showing us that the promise of God's presence now and in eternity is real and can be counted on. In the New Testament, Paul expresses it this way:
...God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. (Romans 5:5-7)
Through Christ, we have the assurance that the only thing that can break our relationship with God is our willful turning away from Him and His will for us...expressed in the Ten Commandments.

We can trust the promises of God because of the way He gets involved in our lives.

No comments: