A Reading from the Book of Concord 1 year series September 7, 2014 - Twelfth Sunday after Trinity
The following reading from the CONCORDIA edition of the Book of Concord is for the Gospel, Mark 7:31-37 for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, September 7, 2014.
It is from Formula of Concord: Epitome, Article II: Free Will.
A sinner cannot come to know or believe in God by his own free will any more than a deaf man can will himself to hear. And just as Jesus used His fingers and saliva to open up a deaf man's ears and loose his tongue, so He uses earthly means of the preached Word and Sacraments to open up dead hearts and loose tongues to confess sins and faith.
3 2. . . . we believe, teach, and confess that the unregenerate will of mankind is not only turned away from God, but also has become God's enemy. So it only has an inclination and desire for that which is evil and contrary to God, as it is written in Genesis 8:21, "the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth." Romans 8:7 says, "The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot." Just as a dead body cannot raise itself to bodily, earthly life, so a person who by sin is spiritually dead cannot raise himself to spiritual life. For it is written in Ephesians 2:5, "even when we were dead in our trespasses, [He] made us alive together with Christ." And 2 Corinthians 3:5 says, "Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God." 4 3. God the Holy Spirit, however, does not bring about conversion without means. For this purpose He uses the preaching and hearing of God's Word, as it is written in Romans 1:16, the Gospel "is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." 5 Also Romans 10:17 says, "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." It is God's will that His Word should be heard and that a person's ears should not be closed (Psalm 95:8). With this Word the Holy Spirit is present and opens hearts, so that people (like Lydia in Acts 16:14) pay attention to it and are converted only through the Holy Spirit's grace and power, who alone does the work of converting a person. 6 For without His grace, and if He does not grant the increase, our willing and running, our planting, sowing, and watering (1 Corinthians 3:5-7)—are all nothing. As Christ says ‹in John 15:5›, "apart from Me you can do nothing." With these brief words the Spirit denies free will its powers and ascribes everything to God's grace, in order that no one may boast before God (1 Corinthians 1:29; [2 Corinthians 12:5; Jeremiah 9:23]).
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.
Lord grant you faith in His grace alone for your salvation unto eternal life. Amen