This week’s devotions are based on the Week 8 “Explore God” – What is a Lutheran? (WATCH HERE)
The down arrow.
What makes Lutheran unique is the down arrow…always.
This statement isn’t to say that the down arrow isn’t taught in other churches, but a confessional Lutheran, a biblical Christian can’t exist without the down arrow being primary in all aspects of faith and life.
What is the down arrow?
God for us.
God’s activity for us and on behalf of us is always primary and the prime mover.
We recognize that any activity of a person toward God is always predicated by God’s activity on behalf of that person. To think or act otherwise overturns, disrupts and leaves out the comfort of God for us…the down arrow.
All other world religions and even Christian denominations can mix up the emphasis of these arrows. World religions promote the activity and performance of people to somehow be right with or reach out to God. The up arrow comes before the down arrow.
Biblical Christianity emphasizes the down arrow, God for us, is what initiates all activity of the Christian.
- Down arrow: God created us. We can’t take credit for our existence. God initiated the creation of the world and knit us together in our mother’s womb. Down arrow.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 2:7 … the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Psalm 139: 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
- Down arrow: God saves us. The certainty of our right relationship with God 100% rests on the gracious goodness of God shown to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. To take credit through our effort or personal decision reverses the arrow and makes my effort cause God’s response. God’s activity alone makes us spiritually alive and able to express trust in Jesus as our Savior.
Ephesians 2:3-5 Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
- Down arrow: Baptism saves and forgives. Baptism for many Christians is their activity to show the sincerity of their commitment to Jesus. The up arrow becomes the focal point and one loses the very clear promises of forgiveness and salvation God gives to us in baptism when HE puts his name on us and calls us his child.
Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
- Down arrow: The Lord’s Supper forgives our sins. Participating in the Lord’s Supper is not to earn a salvation credit (up arrow), but rather to receive the forgiveness Jesus promised through his body and blood. It is not just a remembrance (up arrow), but a giving of forgiveness earned by Jesus on the cross. The comfort is knowing what Jesus is giving to us in his holy Supper.
Matthew 26:26-28 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
- Down arrow: Even our life of Christian living is orchestrated and enabled by God and must be 100% God’s credit. Our Christian life isn’t to earn more forgiveness or to offer proof that we are really Christian. Our Christian life is simply living out our God given purpose and engaging in the good works he himself orchestrated for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
2 Corinthians 5:14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
Enjoy the reality and certainty of the down arrow. God’s love FOR you. God’s work FOR you. God’s promises FOR you. They are God’s gift. They are our assurance. The down arrow is the central message of the Scripture. Let everything in your life flow to God FROM what he has done FOR you!
Apply: What changes when the “down arrow” becomes the primary focus and certainty in your life?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for taking the initiative in all things for our life by acting on our behalf to secure us in your grace, promise us eternal life, and guide us in living for you each day. AMEN.