John 15 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
That’s a pretty bald statement. If Christianity, the true faith, is likened to being a branch on the Vine, then it goes without saying that there is no branch without the vine. The vine comes first and the vine’s nourishment creates the branch.
The problem is…the majority of Christians today in America do not talk about faith this way at all.
Faith comes from the vine, but in our modern “faith talk” we don’t talk about the Vine. We talk first about ourselves. Faith is not “being in the Vine,” that is, “being in Christ.” Faith today is about “me and what I do for Jesus,” which makes Jesus the object of faith rather than the subject of it. It’s like saying Jesus is actually the branch rather than the vine. Today’s “faith talk” is about deciding for Jesus, making choices for Him. In today’s “faith talk,” you and I are the Vine despite what Jesus actually says.
The devil, the Father of lies, loves to get Christians talking this way. In the end, when many Christians start talking about “their faith,” they are talking only about themselves. It’s everybody’s favorite subject. Not Christ and what He did, does, and continues to do for me. But ME and what I did, do, and continue to do for Him. Me first is NOT Christianity. Grammatically speaking, when Christ is the object rather than the subject…He already is in second place.
Apart from me you can do nothing. Or as Paul put it, Faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ (Rom. 10:17). Observe this! In Paul’s language, hearing doesn’t happen because someone decided to start listening. Hearing only happens “through the Word of Christ.” Christ and His Word open the ears. That puts Him in first place, whereas deciding to finally listen once again relegates Christ to second place.
Faith, Biblically speaking, is a miracle. In Mark 7, the deaf man doesn’t choose to hear Jesus. Jesus heals him and opens his ears. If you and I are deaf to God’s Word, then faith cannot help but work the same way. Jesus’ words bores holes in our dead eardrums, speaks to us, saves us and grants faith. The same thing for the blind man in John 9, who certainly didn’t even ask Jesus to be healed! The same thing for Lazarus in the tomb…NOT raised without Jesus.
To count faith as “my thing,” or “my decision,” fails to recognize that we would not know who Jesus was in order to “decide” if we had not already heard about Him. Where did that faith really begin? It began with Christ and His Word.
This is why I am a Lutheran. Because while other churches and preachers are busy trying to get you to make decisions you do not have the power to make, I, as a Lutheran pastor, am only called to love you enough to tell you the truth. The truth? Jesus creates faith through His Word. The truth? Apart from Him you can do nothing. The truth? Faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ. The truth? It’s not your faith. It’s Christ’s faith and it is a miracle that it is accomplished in you precisely because sin means you can’t do this yourself. You’re blind, dead, enemies of God, the Bibles says. Jesus has to work this in you.
LOVE…always rejoices in the truth! (1 Cor. 13:7). Join us this Lenten series as we rejoice in the truth. We’ll call it “The Miracle Of Faith!”
Supper at 6pm with free will offering.
Service at 7pm (Wednesdays starting Feb. 18).
Seeking the truth with you amidst all the devil’s lies,
1 Tim. 1:15-17