We heard last month that Christ won forgiveness of sins and eternal life for us though the cross and empty tomb. But these gifts would not do any good for us unless He delivered them to us. One of Luther’s most important contributions to our understanding of the Gospel was the distinction between salvation accomplished and salvation delivered. Salvation was accomplished through the cross and empty tomb, but we should not go running to Jerusalem to find it. Instead, salvation is now delivered to people in desperate need of it through His Church in several ways:
The first is through the Word. Through the Bible, or through people speaking (or preaching) the good news of Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to us to create faith within us, faith which receives His promised gifts. In Baptism, Jesus works through water to bring us into His kingdom, giving to us those gifts in another, more tangible way. Lutherans are encouraged to look back to their Baptism every day, and remember what Christ did through that washing. Our entire lives are to be shaped by that washing, as we drown our sin daily. Finally, He established the Lord’s Supper, a means of strengthening faith, where He comes to His people to give them His Body and His Blood for the forgiveness of their sins. Salvation is given as a gift, there is nothing that we can do to earn it, there is nothing that we can do to claim it. Instead, Christ comes to us in His Word or through Baptism to create faith within us, faith which grasps the salvation won on the cross.
Zion Lutheran Church is not the only place where Christ comes with His gifts, nor do Lutherans claim to be the only ones to receive these gifts. Christ works through His Gospel to bring salvation wherever it is proclaimed. I thank you for taking this journey with me through the basics of Lutheran teaching. Remember that Pastor Werly and I are both resources for learning more. Lutherans are all about Jesus, and what He has done for you and all people. God’s richest blessings as we journey through Lent!