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A Bundle of Myrrh

"My beloved is unto me as a bundle of myrrh." Song of Solomon 1:13

My Reformation Story – Part III

October 31st, 2014 by Aubri


My friend looked at me and I forget his exact words but as clear as day I remember the meaning of them. He said something almost like this; “If you think about it, infant baptism is a really good picture of faith. If we can’t have faith apart from God, what better place to see that than with a helpless baby being baptized.”

And suddenly a light came on.

Faith. All this time my real struggle had been over that simple and huge thing. Faith. What it was, where it came from. Once I understood how completely utterly helpless I was to create or hang on to Faith, it all made sense.

I knew these verses, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—(and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God)” and “Believe in the Lord and you will be saved.”

I couldn’t see that “believing” wasn’t a cognitive knowledge that I give myself. I was and am and UNBELIEVER. It is impossible for me to BELIEVE. The Holy Spirit must give that belief to me. So where does He do that I had to ask myself? What did Scripture say about where God gives faith and believing? In the murky confines of my heart and head? No.

In His word. In the preaching and proclaiming of it. It is alive and active, it is the very power of salvation.

BELIEF IS COMPLETELY OUTSIDE OF ME. I never understood that, I still struggle with understanding that!  How often I still turn in on myself looking for signs that I am making my self believe.

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

Once I understood that that was the one thing no one had agreed on I finally saw it. Until then Faith had been about me, it had been self-centered. Faith always kept coming back to ME. I had to believe, I had to trust, I had to love God enough. If I doubted, I had to look for evidence in my life of things I’d done to gain back any assurance.

If I took God’s Word seriously I had to let it do what it said it did. If it is truly “alive and active” what did that mean? It had to mean that it actually does something. If God’s Word said “Baptism does now save you.” I Peter 3:21, then baptism had the power to save. Not just by the water, but by God’s very Word and promise in and with the water.

If Jesus said, “Take and eat, this is my body.” Matt 26:26, how could I understand him to not have really meant that? If I believed those Words were true then I had just what they said.

Through His Word, God creates Faith, God grants Believing. I didn’t have to search anywhere else. I had to look no further than His Word. I didn’t have to look to myself. How assuring!

My eyes were opened with a new understanding of faith and I started to read the Scriptures that had so confounded me with more clarity. Communion followed suit. Everything finally fit together. I had been convinced that the Lutheran church had the truth, the pure teaching of Holy Scripture.

I met again with the pastor, so excited to tell him what had happened to me. I wanted to join the Lutheran church, I wanted to be confirmed and he was happy to bring me in.

So I became a Lutheran.

That wasn’t the end of my story though. As a Lutheran convert I wanted to dive in, relearn everything, going through the Catechism class again, reading as many books as I could. And this still goes on today.

I believe the Holy Spirit gave me faith and forgiveness at the age of 10, before I was baptized, but in the baptism that I received at 13, finally became the place I could look when doubts bothered me. I could rest assured that Baptism was where God had delivered forgiveness, life and salvation to me.

It is a constant struggle with my flesh.  I am taught over and over again that my flesh is a dead thing.  I can’t believe on my own. I am not getting better at “not sinning.”  The Christian life isn’t roses and victory, but thorns and crosses. Suffering doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love me, it usually means just the opposite.

I still find myself looking at my life for “evidence” of salvation, a mental check list still exists. I still pull it out sometimes to see how I’m measuring up. I might be pleased by what I see there and become a wonderful hypocrite or I might be horrified and tempted to despair. But my doubts don’t have to be relieved by my works or my feeling close to God, but by His Work. Christ’s death on the cross and at the triumph of Easter is what removed my guilt, therefore my doubts can be put away. I am not under the law or my sins.

I can ask God to strengthen my faith and now I know where He does that.

For all these teachings that free and comfort me, now I say proudly that I am a Lutheran.

Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. John 7:17

“It is the Father’s will that we should listen to what the man Jesus says and give ear to his Word. You are not to try to be clever in connection with his Word, to master it or to argue about it, but simply to hear it. Then the Holy Spirit will come and dispose your heart so that you will believe and say form the bottom of your heart concerning the preaching of the divine Word, “That is God’s Word and it is the pure truth,” and you will risk your life on it.

But if you yourself want to be heard, and to obliterate the Word of Christ with your own reason, if you attempt to subject the Word to your own ideas, kneading false teaching into it, probing and prying how to understand, to measure, and to distort it so that his Word must sound as you want it to do, and if you ponder it as though you were in doubt about it, wanting to judge it according to your own mind, that is no listening to it, or being a disciple, but being a master.

In that way you can never be able to say, “This is the Word of God.” Therefore, lock up your reason, tread your wisdom underfoot, and do not let them grope about or feel or think in matters that concern your salvation, but simply and solely listen to what the Son of God says, to what is his Word, and stop there. “Listen, listen!” is the command. That is truly and honestly doing our Lord God’s will, and he has promised that all who listen to the Son will receive the Holy Spirit, to enlighten and kindle them so that they will rightly understand that it is the Word of God. God will change them into persons after his own heart.” Martin Luther

Read Part I and Part II of My Reformation Story.

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