The War for Our Freedom

 
 
 

Where do we get our courage to believe the Gospel? Who leads us to the font? Who supplies us with Jesus' body and blood? Who provides us with the strength and ability to meet the needs that arise as we do the work God gives to us to do? Who supplies us with the right habits, toughness, and perpetual alertness to keep our eyes trained on Jesus, even when we cower before death and doubt in His resurrection? Who issues us the belief in ultimate victory over sin, death, and hell?

God strengthens us and supplies us with health. He trains us to resist temptation and ignore the fatigue that sets in as sin, death, and Satan attack us day after day after day. He encourages us to stay alert and toughens us in body, mind, and soul for the fight. He gives us His Word and concrete, real gifts because we can't fight the war – a war fought on three fronts against sin, death, and hell – without the Gospel and Christ's gifts.

The most powerful of Christ's gifts is that He baptizes us in His Name. He washes away the horrific dangers of sin, death, and hell with Spirit, Word, and water. This is also a Baptism by fire. By Spirit and Word, and by coming under fire from sin, death, and hell, every day as they attack us, God seasons, trains, and teaches us to meet the unexpected emergencies that arise as we fight against sin, death, and hell. This is how we acquire confidence in the Gospel. The lack of Gospel or abundance of Gospel and Christ's gifts, more than anything else, determines whether we'll be overrun by sin, death, and hell or whether we'll win the final victory, the joy of the resurrection and life everlasting.

The lack of Gospel or abundance of Gospel and Christ’s gifts, more than anything else, determines whether we’ll be overrun by sin, death, and hell.
— Donavon Riley

Tradition, home life, and other things may have a powerful effect on how often we come to church and how we serve our neighbor, but only the Gospel and Christ's gifts can strengthen us to get on with the long, hard pull of a war that rages, that’s fought for our salvation. Only the Gospel and Christ's gifts can secure the victory. Only the Gospel and Christ's gifts keep us safe in the dirty, disagreeable business of fighting against sin, death, and hell.

It's a fight for our freedom from sin, death, and hell. It's a war for true peace in our relation to God. It's total war because our salvation is what's at stake and the enemy doesn't quit. He doesn't surrender. He doesn't negotiate for peace. It's a war fought on three fronts, and the enemy uses the weapons of guilt over sin, fear of death, and threats of hellish torture to drive us away from the Gospel and Christ's gifts.

But, Jesus' bloody suffering and death have already won the permanent victory over sin, death, and Satan for us. And so, like St. Paul, we run—but not without a clear goal ahead of us. We box—but not as if we were just shadow boxing (1 Cor. 9:26-27).

And so, again, where do we get the courage to run and to fight? Where do we get the courage to believe the Gospel? Who leads us to the font? Who supplies us with Jesus' body and blood? Who provides us with the strength and ability to meet the needs that arise as we do the work God gives us to do? Who supplies us with the right habits, toughness, and perpetual alertness to keep our eyes trained on Jesus, even when we cower before death and doubt His resurrection?

Jesus alone is our courage, the One who leads us to the font and supplies us with His body and blood.
— Donavon Riley

Jesus alone is our courage, the One who leads us to the font and supplies us with His body and blood. He is our strength and health. He keeps us alert and focused on His bloody suffering and death whenever sin seems to defeat us, death charges in to overrun us, and we are tortured by the threats of hell. Jesus has already won the victory. He goes ahead of us, behind us, and beside us to ensure that we’re not defeated and disqualified from enjoying the final victory, the joy of His resurrection and life everlasting.

Donavon Riley is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author, Online Content Manager for Higher Things, a contributing writer for 1517, Christ Hold Fast, and LOGIA. He is also the co-host of The Banned Books podcast and the As Lutheran As It Gets podcast.



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