Saturday after the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:8-12 (NKJV)
8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit. 9 But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; 11 that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.
In reading Luther’s sermon, I was struck by how often he would say, “This text teaches about faith and love.” Luther understood the Scriptural truth that faith and love went together. We are saved by faith alone, and yet faith is never alone. Real faith in Christ produces love toward the neighbor. Those who claim to have faith toward God, but do not walk the Christian life, or desire to give thanks to God by the keeping of the Commandments, do not have faith. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…. Therefore who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 4:3,8). The Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies. The Holy Spirit works both justification and sanctification.
Faith in Christ’s suffering and death provides a perfect righteousness, which avails before God. When Jesus paid the debt for our sins, it was finished. Receiving His atonement through faith in the Gospel promise, we are fully and completely justified.
As saved children of God, we “are taught by God to love one another.” The Holy Spirit is sanctifying us so that we abound in love toward our neighbor more and more. And thus St. Paul teaches that we do have one debt outstanding. This debt is not toward God, but toward our neighbor. It does not earn salvation, but is the result of already being saved. Romans 13:8 says, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
Merciful Lord, Who has provided my full salvation, sanctify me so that I abound in love toward my neighbor. Amen.