A word from Heather…
I feel like I am always learning, but it continues to amaze and quite
frankly humble me when I realize I’m still learning from my own
children. Our 18 year old daughter is a freshman at Concordia
University in Ann Arbor. Last week one of her assignments was to write
a short devotion distinguishing between Law and Gospel with high
school teens as her audience. Hannah wrote a beautiful devotion based
on Ephesians 2:1-10 using her own life experiences to teach about the
purpose of the Law and Gospel in our daily lives. I’m proud to be able
to share her devotion today as we too can learn from a “child” how to
live for Christ in all we say and do. Thanks, Hannah, for boldly sharing
your faith with everyone around you! Even this mom can keep learning
from her daughter.
Law and Gospel According to Ephesians 2:1-10
By Hannah L. Biermann
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:4-5a, 8-10 (ESV)
My high school experience was a stressful time full of life-changing decisions. The fear of making the wrong decision was constantly coursing through me. Only I could decide to study for the ACT, where to go to college, what my major would be, and who I would form relationships with. While this is somewhat true, it misses the point.
Our culture pushes us to take control of our lives and have confidence in our own strength. Even if we turn to the Bible, sometimes we view it as a self-improvement book which tells us how to apply the principles we read in it. Instead, the Bible is God’s Word to us. He speaks to us through the Law and Gospel in the Bible. He demands and delivers. He tells us what to do and what He has done.
I often feel overwhelmed when I read the Law. Its purpose is to point out our sin and bring us to repentance for our selfish desires. The Law leads me to recognize my need to repent of my doubt and worry. In his book, The Christian Faith, Robert Kolb says, “The words of the Law in Scripture do not always tell us how to act. We are always compelled to make moral judgements.” The Law shows us our sin; turning us away from sin and towards repentance, allowing us to receive the free gift of Salvation.
There is no way I could have made it through high school without the Gospel message of comfort and forgiveness through Jesus. He takes the punishment we deserve. The Gospel reveals God’s forgiveness by grace through faith. While we may be tempted to live only for ourselves, God calls us to live for Him. We may look at our lives and see only the sin and hard decisions we must make; God sees His plan being lived out in us. We need to remember “this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:8)
A friend of mine came bursting into the room. “My wallet was stolen from my car!” She frantically searched for the wallet all day but gave up when she couldn’t find it. That evening, after someone made the suggestion, she found the lost wallet in the bottom of the backpack she was carrying all day. We often make the same mistake with God’s message of salvation in the Gospel. We have salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life right here waiting for us and yet we frantically search for it ourselves. We try to earn salvation but God has given it to us as a free gift. When we stop trying to find or earn salvation, and graciously receive the gift, we are freely forgiven. Then God welcomes us into His family. As members of His family, God calls us to humbly serve Him. We do good works, not to earn salvation, but to help others and to praise God for what He has already done for us. Within His family we are free to make decisions and to serve Him. With prayer, and desire to live for God alone, whatever decision we make will work out for good.
Join me in striving to live every day for God. You are His workmanship. Repent when you live for yourself. Then, live in the freedom and forgiveness He has given you.
Dear God, my Heavenly Father, I praise you for your unchanging wisdom and grace. Forgive me for my unbelief, worry, and doubt. Thank you for creating me as your workmanship. Thank you also for your unconditional forgiveness and grace. Please help me to focus on you instead of myself. Guide me as I make each decision, leading me to receive your free gift of grace and have faith in you. Help me find joy in you alone and serve you with my whole being. I love you. Amen.