Devotion for December 11 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

Above:  Cross and Crown

Victorious Faith

 DECEMBER 11, 2023


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 28:14-29

Psalm 33 (Morning)

Psalms 85 and 91 (Evening)

1 John 5:1-21


The Johannine tradition, in opposition to Gnosticism, emphasizes the centrality of the Incarnation; Jesus is essential.  He was far more than a wise teacher; he was, in time and space, the incarnation of God.  The author of 1 John has spent preceding chapters writing of the centrality of detachment from the world in opposed to God, of sound Christology, and of active love.  The author is not content with theological abstractions.

Whenever I read the word “faith” in the Bible, I want to know what it means in that particular context.  Authors used that term to in at least three different ways.  So, if I am going to grasp a particular text accurately, I must know what it says in all germane contexts.  The commentaries I have consulted agree that faith, as in 1 John 5:4, is intellectual.  This understanding of faith seems closely related to that one finds in James; faith must be joined with actions.  Therein lies salvation.  That, by the way, is Roman Catholic theology.

I must also write about verse 18, which says that no child of God sins.  A child of God, as established in verse 1, is anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ.  The translations on verse 18 vary, of course, but the passage, read in contexts of 1 John 5 and the rest of the Bible, means that no child of God is a slave to sin.  We might be children of God, but we are still prone to sin.

Isaiah 24:14-29 condemns treaties the leaders of Judah made with their Assyrian and Egyptian counterparts, hardly trustworthy partners.  Such treaties are in vain, the prophet, quoting God, said.  And Isaiah was correct.  Then, at the end of the passage, we read metaphors for the fate of the northern kingdom (Israel) and the preservation of a remnant of the southern kingdom (Judah).  These are the words of Yahweh, of whom the text says:

His counsel is unfathomable,

His wisdom marvelous.

–Isaiah 28:29, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Why should one kingdom end for all time and its neighbor survive as a remnant?  And why did God come among us as one of us, beginning as a helpless child?  These are questions one can answer only in God, who has unfathomable counsel and marvelous wisdom.  There is one in whom we can and should believe both intellectually and actively, in whom we can and should have faith, both active and intellectual.  Despite the different uses of “faith” in the Bible, a consensus emerges from the texts:  Faith, essential in the context of a lack of evidence for against a proposition, such as that Jesus in the Christ of God, begins intellectually yet must find expression in works.  There is, in other words, a difference between having faith and agreeing that a proposition is true but not acting on it.  The former makes us victorious.








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