I’m generally skeptical of devotionals (Two Words exempted!). This morning, I pulled out Bo Geirtz’s amazing devotional with a terrible title called, To Live With Christ. If you’re not familiar with Geirtz, he was a Swedish Lutheran Bishop who faithfully maintained his allegiance to the historic gospel amidst a church gone off it’s rails. He was surrounded during his persecutions as a faithful minister by a group of gospel wielding laymen and this little band mutually encouraged each other – a Lutheran Band of Brothers if you will. I suspect they would’ve published a blog if there had been such a thing! He’s most noted for his novel The Hammer of God (which I can’t recommend more highly).
All his writings are deeply informed by a concern for pastoral ministry (e.g. people!) and rooted in the historic Gospel of the Reformers. He carries the Gospel like a shotgun and his devotional was recently discovered and translated into English by a Concordia Ft. Wayne Seminarian and I can’t recommend it enough. For you techies, you can get it as a kindle app and read it on your Kindle/iPhone/iPad,/Computer/Whatever…. It is so so so rooted in what this broken sinner needs to hear each day.
Thought I’d pass along today’s reading (emphasis in bold below is mine) – and I think it speaks to yesterday’s insightful post by our own Jady….
Romans 1:1 – 23
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16
What is the Gospel?
Paul answers this question in his Letter to the Romans. He writes to the church in Rome sometime around AD 51, probably when he was in Corinth. Ai; he is unknown to the recipients, he presents himself and the Gospel God has commanded him to preach everywhere among all Gentiles, even in Rome.
He says the Gospel is “the power of God for salvation.” It’s about God’s Son, but it is more than just a doctrine. The Gospel is a force; God’s intervention on earth, which leads to something we all need but cannot otherwise attain righteousness from God. It was clear to the Jews, and to all religious people, that righteousness is something we must attain ourselves. Our conscience tells us that God knows what”s right and that it”s dangerous to go against God. The conclusion we form is obvious: To have the correct kind of relationship with God, we have to live the right kind of life because God loves all good people.
This is essentially correct. Paul emphasizes on several occasions that God rewards everyone according to his or her actions. Each person who does good will receive glory, honor, and peace. The only problem is that there is no good person, no one who has done everything God rightfully demands of us. All mankind is in debt to God. We all may know there is a God, simply because He’s everywhere in creation. If people had nurtured that, and their conscience, as Paul talks about in the next chapter, they would’ve known God. However, they thought they were wise and didn’t bother to thank and praise God. Their thoughts of God are a travesty. They really only believe in themselves.
It’s in this world and among these people that God intervenes with His Gospel. The Gospel makes it possible for us to achieve the right kind of relationship with God, despite everything else. The Gospel is God’s power for salvation. In the Gospel, the righteousness we cannot achieve is manifested as a gift from heaven. You can only achieve righteousness in one way: through faith in Jesus Christ. The whole secret of redemption is behind those words.
We thank You, Lord, for Your Gospel. We thank You for acquainting us with it as children. We ask for help in understanding it and receiving it as a vibrant force and redeeming power that makes everything new. We pray for those who don’t know Your Gospel and for those who misunderstand it. You once sent Your apostles to establish obedience in Your faith among all nations. Send even now Your faithful servants, men who have understood Your Gospel and feel its power and can preach it with the necessary authority and power, so we all understand that this is Your Word and not human reflection. Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come.