Text: Luke 12:22-34
Date: Pentecost XII (Proper 14) + 8/11/13
Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord, He whom we address in today’s Collect as the almighty and merciful God. For He is the almighty God, the creator of the universe, the One who orders time and change aright. Such might and power, however, would and should be a fearful thing to know and confess had it not been that He has also harnessed His might with His love. In might and love He is also the merciful God, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Ex 34:6-7). Because God is both almighty and merciful we pray to Him today to help us to be faithful to Him as our Savior and life especially amid the distractions and temptations of life in a world still disordered by sin. By His might alone, through the Word of God, He creates and sustains faith in our hearts, minds and souls. And by His mercy alone He guides us in the way that leads to eternal life.
We Live By His Grace
We prayed today, “Almighty and merciful God, it is by Your grace that we live as Your people.” It must be by grace, sola gratia, by grace alone that we both are saved and live. Grace: God acts alone out of His loving good will for His creation, for you. Salvation is therefore entirely gift. “Consider the ravens…God feeds them.” “Consider the lilies, how they grow” and are clothed in glorious array by God. The ravens and the lilies and the grass do nothing but receive. So also we “of little faith” must learn to know and believe that, beyond mere life and food and clothing, though “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” all “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:23-24). “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9).
That last statement by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 2 is then immediately followed by the words, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10). This shows how God’s grace is also a continuing action for the living of faith. So it is as we pray today that we are not only saved by God’s grace but also live by His grace.
That We May Walk by Faith, and Not by Sight
Since it is by God’s grace alone that we are saved and live, so it must be also that we walk and live by faith alone, sola fide. Therefore we pray, “that we may walk by faith, and not by sight.”
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” By faith Abraham “went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb 11:1, 8). “And he believed the Lord, and [the Lord] counted it to him as righteousness” (Gen 15:6), and that’s what walking and living by faith is all about, righteousness, that is, everything created and recreated, ordered and reordered by God’s workmanship through His Word and Spirit in our lives, that we may be His own children, His own sheep, His own possession. In the words of the Old Testament, “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Dt 7:6), that is, as God chose Israel of old solely because of His love, so has He chosen you; you who have heard His voice and have come to Him. It is as the apostle Peter said it, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (1 Peter 2:9).
We Walk in the Way that Leads to Eternal Life
We walk by faith and not by sight, therefore we do not fear. Therefore we are not anxious about life. Therefore we are more inclined to seek God’s rule and kingdom believing that these things of life in this world will be added, be given, be supplied, as to the ravens and the lilies and the grass, so also to us who are of “much more value.”
The kingdom we seek is His kingdom, God’s gift of eternal life. That life is given because of the forgiveness of sins won, merited and achieved for us by the all-availing sacrifice of Jesus’ blood and righteousness on the cross. Now when the sinner repents and is baptized, he is baptized into this death, the death of Christ and receives the new life empowered by the resurrection of Christ. The Way that leads to eternal life is Jesus, the way, the truth and the life except by Whom alone no one comes or is reconciled to the Father.
Walking in this Way is the result alone of God’s mercy and grace. Richard Farrant in the 1500s captured this in His famous choral work:
Lord, for thy tender mercy’s sake,
lay not our sins to our charge,
but forgive that is past,
and give us grace to amend our sinful lives.
To decline from sin and incline to virtue,
that we may walk in a perfect heart
before thee, now and evermore. Amen
Almighty and merciful God, it is by Your grace that we live as Your people who offer acceptable service. Grant that we may walk by faith, and not by sight, in the way that leads to eternal life.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.