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Sushi, asparagus and faith

“That is why (salvation) depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring – not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who share the faith of Abraham.” (Romans 4:16).

If salvation doesn’t depend on anything that we’ve done, if salvation is only about what God has done, then we can know right now that we’re going to live in heaven with Jesus. That has always been God’s plan.

But the devil is great at planting seeds of doubt that rob us of that peace. So many people will agree that God gave His only son to die for the sins of the world. They believe that was the gift that God gave but that it’s up to you and I to accept the gift. They believe that faith in Jesus is our role or our part to play in our salvation.

If that’s true then salvation depends on us to try hard enough or to be smart enough. It depends on our endurance and strength and eternal life is not guaranteed. It can’t be because I’m not always strong enough or smart enough. Praise the Lord that it’s not true. God’s Word is clear that faith is also a gift. It’s all a gift.

For most of my life I couldn’t stand asparagus or sushi. In fact, if they got anywhere near my plate they would have evoked an unpleasant involuntary reaction that I couldn’t explain. Many people treasured them but not me. Yuck! Then something changed. I wish I could explain it but I can’t. Somehow these two got on my plate and in my mouth and they were awesome. I was given a taste for asparagus and sushi – it was a gift. A gift which has me reaching out my hand to put as much asparagus and sushi on my plate as I can get. Both my taste for and the food themselves are a gift.

God’s Word says the same thing about our appetite for Jesus.

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

None of us are born with an appetite for Jesus. None of us would reach out to take hold of Jesus on our own. Our natural reaction is like mine. Yuck! Instead, we must be given faith that Jesus is our Lord and Savior.

God’s Word teaches us that this gift of faith and the Holy Spirit are received through God’s Word and Holy Baptism.

“To (eternal life) he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:14) It’s the work of the Holy Spirit to give and sustain faith in each of us. It’s all a gift.

Here’s the good news. The savior who died for your sins upon the cross was a gift and the faith that believes that he died for your sins is also a gift. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. That’s the truth behind the Reformation and one of the great gifts we give thanks for at this time of year.

REV. MATTHEW SORENSON is the pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church. He can be reached at pastor@stjohnsfarmville.org.