Saturday, November 13, 2010

Growing in Faith

Listening to Pastor Petersen on Issues Etc (July 15, 2010) as I cleaned today --
As you grow in faith, experientially, the way we feel it, it feels like we're getting worse, because the stronger your faith is, the weaker it feels. Strong faith never says, "I'm strong." St Paul writes, "When I am weak, then I am strong." Faith is at its strongest when it is at its weakest because that is when it is most dependent upon grace, upon Jesus Christ.
Then he goes on to describe how we might feel on Christmas Eve when we're sentimental and surrounded by family and singing about Jesus being born. When we have a spiritual mountaintop experience and are happy, then we feel that our faith is strong. Contrast that to when we're in the emergency room with a loved one who may die, when we are heartbroken, when we are terrified and cannot pray anything but "Lord, have mercy."

Quoting again:
Sanctification, a process of growing in faith, growing in good works, is a strange process in that there is a growth. But we don't feel it like a growth. We become more aware of our sins the holier we become.


  1. Just last night I reread Forde's article on Sanctification in a book I have, and he writes:

    "Sanctification ... is perhaps best defined as the art of getting used to the unconditional justification wrought by the grace of God for Jesus' sake. It is what happens when we are grasped by the fact that God alone justifies. It is being made holy, and as such, it is not our work. It is the work of the Spirit who is called Holy. The fact that it is not our work puts the old Adam/Eve (our old self) to death and calls forth a new being in Christ. It is being saved from the sickness unto death and being called to new life."


    "The grace of God should lead us to see the truth about ourselves, and to gain a certain lucidity, a certain sense of humor, a certain down-to-earthness. When we come to realize that if we are going to be saved, it shall have to be absolutely by grace alone, then we shall be sanctified. God will have his way with us at last."

    He writes a lot more about sanctification not being all about morality, but about the call to live the new life of being a Christian - that is, one who is grasped by the grace of God and despairs completely of himself. It sounds a lot like Pr. Peterson's comments.

  2. Wow. That is so true. I've been contemplating sanctification (reading the book of James) for several weeks and am realizing that what you quoted and wrote is so true. I can do nothing without Christ. My strength comes from him. When I feel weak is when I've realized the reality of my situation (desperate weakness) and allow Jesus to be strong through me. Good stuff.

  3. (Shhhh. I'm going to go off-topic, and I probably ought not because this is such a great quote. But nevertheless, here goes. Nathan, Forde talks about the "old Adam/Eve"? Yeeeesh... that is going to be hard for me to get past when I get around to reading that book you gave me. Shhhh. Don't tell anybody I changed the topic. Now back to your regularly-scheduled comments.)

  4. Petersen, as usual, is bang on right. That is exactly the experience. Or, as Kleinig would say, a growing dependency.

  5. (Re Forde: Sometimes he does say "Old Adam/Eve". He was ELCA, after all, no matter how good most of his writings might be. But the book I gave you doesn't have that stuff in it. It's more prevalent in his earlier writings than his later, anyway. I think he changed in theology over time - for the better.)

  6. Haha. Susan, look at it this way. At least in his effort at inclusivity the author used the singular "Old Adam/Eve" rather than the plural "them" or "their." Chalk one up for good grammar! ;-)