Devotion 414 – Wednesday of Pentecost 22

Opening Prayer

Holy Spirit of grace, enlighten us with Your gifts. Amen.

Text: Hebrews 11:1–6

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. By faith Enoch was translated so that he did not see death, “and was not found because God had translated him;” for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Devotion

As real as eternal things are, that’s how incomprehensible they are to natural man. They are completely beyond what our reason and senses can comprehend. Here is God Himself with eternal life in His Church’s Means of Grace, but to unbelief there is nothing. The blind walk in the light, but the light is not present for them. Faith alone knows heavenly things. But faith is also a wondrous gift of God’s Spirit. It cannot spring forth from human understanding and is not given from another human being, – only God’s Spirit can create it. But it is completely certain that He uses the Word and the Sacraments, administered by others.

As those things are heavenly, as faith knows, and as their origin is heavenly, so faith itself is of a heavenly and divine nature. And as these heavenly things, faith grasps, are true and real, the actual true and real things, the living and eternal things, so also faith is not a delusion, but something really true and living in our soul. It doesn’t depend on human wisdom that changes and vanishes, not on human power and strength that withers like grass, not on human deeds that are simply imperfection. It comes from God’s own Word and is immovably firm on this rock, in God’s eternal truth, righteousness, and love. And it is like life itself, His own irrefutable, true certainty. Faith is hidden in the heart, but it is revealed in the life of Christians, and it is the root of all divine knowledge and all truth and holiness on earth. Take faith out of the heart, and you have taken away all true theology and all true piety. Faith is not thinking and feeling, but the heart’s childlike clinging to God’s promise in the Gospel. Use the Word, pray for the Spirit’s enlightening, and walk sincerely before the Lord, wherever you go. Then He will strengthen your faith and give you the victory, just as He did with the ancients. It shall never fail.

“For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith. But if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (Heb 10:37-39).

Closing Prayer

God, grant us this grace. Give us faith, and increase it in us. Amen.

Hymn

The faith that God believeth
And purifies the heart,
The faith that Christ receiveth
And doth from sin depart,
That faith is strong and will
Withstand the world’s temptation
And in sore tribulation
The heart with courage fill.

The faith that keeps on striving
May often seem but weak,
When foes their darts are driving
Her injury to wreak;
But keep ye near the cross
Of Jesus Christ, your Master,
And Satan, in disaster,
Shall suffer shame and loss.

Brorson: The faith that God believeth L 275:1.6 HCH 187:1.3 tr. P. C. Paulsen;
tune: Aus meines Herzens (ELH 79); alternate hymn: Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness ELH 432:8-10

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