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Sțckhardt on Trinity 14 РLuke 17:11-19

by pastorjuhl ~ September 1st, 2010

Jesus, the Son of God, cleansed ten lepers. By that act he pointed to the great gift and benefit he earned for humanity, to the cleansing from spiritual leprosy, the the cleansing from transgression, to the forgiveness of sins. According to human reckoning the lepers were as good as dead, had been banished from the land of the living. Seldom did it occur that a leper recovered. If he did, then it was not real leprosy to begin with. By healing those lepers Jesus showed himself to be the Savior who delivers from death, from eternal death as well. The greatest, actual gift and kindness of God is: forgiveness of sins, life, eternal life. Faith recognizes, grasps this gift of God. Whoever believes acknowledges: I have enjoyed mercy; the Lord has done great things to me. I am free of all transgression. The Lord has healed all my ailments, has redeemed my life from corruption, has delivered my soul from death.

True faith is knowledge of God’s gifts and blessings. God draws to his heart the hearts of those who recognize and lay hold of these gifts and blessings. Faith, true faith is fellowship with God, fellowship with Jesus Christ, the Savior who has touched and accepted us in grace for Christ’s sake. Whoever believes has come to know God, knows his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and says to him: You are mine, and I am yours. Gratitude thrives naturally in faith like that.

Oh, there are very many such people also among apparently upright Christians who forget about God. A person can sit in church, worship, hear, pray, sing, but he is not thinking about the living God and Savior when he does these things. His praying and singing do not soar up towards heaven, and God’s voice from out of the heights does not affect his ear and heart. Of course, he can pray silently to himself, but the prayer is a monologue, a feeble murmuring, a sickly sentiment. He does not win acceptance until he comes to stand in the presence of God and stays there until he has found God’s heart. Therefore, that one who under the guise of piety breaks his association with God, gradually loosens the bond that joins him to God. And even though he still calls Jesus his Savior and God his Father, the heart and conscience have lost contact with God and Christ. he moves forward and lives without God, far removed from Christ, has no more fellowship with the Son and the Father. Yes, ingratitude stifles and kills faith, and whosoever does not believe is dead.

What good does it do if one receives a gift from God; but before he ever recognizes and experiences its value, he hastily throws it away? Of what good to a miser is money that is stashed away somewhere if he does not use and enjoy it? The one who ungratefully throws away the blessings and powers provided by God, lets them lie fallow and unused, buries in the ground the blessings he well could have had. Of what good is it if one saves his life from the throes of death, if he during the new time of grace pollutes body and soul from anew, again violates conscience, gathers new dross? Of what good is it if one early in life has understood God’s Word and recognized God’s truth but then disclaims this knowledge, if he knows the Lord’s will and does not follow it? What benefit is former cleansing from sin if one intentionally again soils the new white garment? What benefit is conversion, God’s adoption of sons, if one again fills up the fountain of new life with carnal anxieties, pleasures, and deeds? No, the one who does not thank God for his gifts suffers hurt instead of having comfort and help. God’s gifts and blessings will one day accuse the ungrateful and increase their stripes. Those nine lepers who were healed will one day suffer more intense agony than other lepers in Israel who never believed and were never healed.

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