Sunday, October 9, 2011
The Answer to the Question
If a young man assists an elderly lady with her groceries (really, I can hardly see that happening in today's world, but I needed an example), is that a good work in the sight of God? Is this man getting closer to God by what he does? I think most people would answer yes. Luther explained, "If there is no faith, God accept nothing as service rendered to Him. Here we have the answer to the question: What is the real service of God? It is the doctrine of faith in Christ. Later Christ tells us about the origin of faith--for no one possesses faith of himself-when He says (John 6:44): 'No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him.' And again (John 6:65): 'No one can believe in Me unless it is granted to him by the Father.' For faith is a divine work which God demands of us; but at the same time He Himself must implant it in us, for we cannot believe by ourselves." It is our sinful pride that recoils and wants to do something that would merit God's favor. It is the same pride that resists God's gift of faith, though He desires to give to all this gift of faith, by His Holy Spirit, through His Word and Sacraments. And yes, I think the young man should help the elderly lady, whether or not he has received faith in Christ. In both cases he would be helping his neighbor, which is always a good thing. But only God can make a good deed good in His sight.