Monday, December 17, 2018

He must maintain and defend it

We tell our Lord God plainly, that if he will have his church, he must maintain and defend it; for we can neither uphold nor protect it...
Thus Luther, Tabletalk, 368.

It is a common theme of my musings on Sunday nights and Monday mornings that if God wants to have a church, he is going to have to step in and work.  Whether the Sunday service has gone well or poorly - and I am often a bad judge of that - there is still the realisation that nothing we have done is sufficient.  Nothing we have done can bring it about that spiritually dead people will come to life; nothing we have done will lead by necessary consequence to the strengthening of faith; nothing we have done is adequate to defend those who know the Lord from the attacks of world, flesh, and devil.

Indeed, the church is a very fragile thing.

One of the most helpful applications which I take from the Advent season is simply this: not only does the world need Christ to come to redeem his creation on the last day, but the church needs Christ to come to save his people every single day.  Because God wanted to save his world, he sent forth from the heavens his eternal Word, to become a baby, frail and human.  If God wants to keep his church, he must send forth from the heavens his eternal Word, again and again and again, by his Spirit.  If God wants to grow his church, he must open up the heavens and show forth Christ.

It is a humble but impertinent prayer:

Lord God, you have shown us that we can do nothing without you, either to maintain your honour, display your glory, preserve your church, or advance your kingdom.  In truth, we are nothing unless you send your Word in the power of your Spirit.  And so, we turn to you.  If you desire to have a church, if you desire to draw a people to yourself, if you desire to be glorified in all the earth - you must do it.  Will you do it, please?  Amen.

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