I believe in…the resurrection of the body

By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. – 1 Corinthians 6:14

The Resurrection of the Body

By the grace of God I am led to confess this truth: “I believe in the resurrection of the body.” The same God who powerfully raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will, by that same power, also raise me. That is his promise. When Jesus comes again, I am going to be raised from the dead!

As I confess this truth, I acknowledge that I am going to die. The Bible teaches, “The wages of sin is death.” Death is the wage of my sin. After I die, this body is going to be buried and decay, or in some other way return to the ground from which it came: earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. In addition, I acknowledge that when God raises this body, he will once again breathe life into it. Together with Job, I confess, “In my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes” (Job 19:26-27). Then I will live with God forever in this body which, by the almighty power of God, will be changed from being perishable to a body that is imperishable, from a mortal to an immortal body. (See 1 Corinthians 15:35-58.)

My body is an eternal gift from God. Grasping this truth will impact how I care for it, and how I use my body in this life. However, I need to remember that there is something more to live for than preserving and enhancing my body. The fact that God will raise this body and I will live forever with him in this body leads me to be concerned about more than just how I take care of and use this body.

Knowing that God will raise, restore, and glorify this body so that I can live with him forever in heaven leads me to think about things beyond this body. It leads me to be concerned about the spiritual, eternal welfare of others. It leads me to proclaim the power of God. It leads me to point to Christ’s resurrection and its importance to those I love and even to those I don’t know. It leads me to cling to my Savior and direct others to the Savior, that more may join in this confession today, and that many may join in eternal glory when Jesus comes again.

Believe his promise about the resurrection of the body and thank God for it. No matter what happens to your currently-earth-bound body, no matter how worn out or broken it gets, through faith in Jesus you have a renewed, restored, revitalized reality to look forward to–an eternal life with God.

Our Father in heaven.

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven.’” – Matthew 6:9a

The Lord’s Prayer – Address

Jesus teaches us to pray “our Father” because we have been adopted as his children. As God’s children, we are worthy to bring our prayers and petitions to him because God has declared us holy, free from sin which separated us from him. The Holy Spirit brought us to faith in Jesus so that the righteousness of the Son of God became our own. Since we are justified by faith before God, we can pray to God, our heavenly Father. We can approach him boldly in prayer because of our special relationship with him by faith in Jesus.

God is honored when we come with our prayer. He is not bothered as though we are pestering him with our requests. The fact that we recognize our dependence upon God and put our trust in him to give us what we ask, brings glory to God. So we are invited to pray to him for anything and everything. Nothing is too small or too big for God to accomplish for our good. He is our perfect Father, and in Christ we are declared to be his perfect children. Thus we can be confident that he will hear and answer our prayer.

Our heavenly Father answers the prayers of his children out of his great love for them in Christ. He knows exactly what his children need, and he graciously grants them his blessings. Jesus explained, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

The knowledge that God has justified us through Jesus and that he loves us with a perfect love gives us the boldness and confidence to pray, “Our Father in heaven.”

Hallowed be your name.

“‘Hallowed be your name.’” – Matthew 6:9b

The Lord’s Prayer – First Petition

As we come boldly and confidently to our heavenly Father, Jesus teaches us to first pray, “Hallowed be your name.” “Hallow” is an old word for “holy”. We are praying that God’s name be holy. However, we can’t make God’s name holy any more than we can make water wet or the sun bright. In his explanation of this petition in the Small Catechism, Martin Luther wrote, “God’s name is certainly holy by itself, but we pray in this petition that we too may keep it holy.”

God’s name is everything which he has revealed about himself in the Bible. We say the “Holy” Bible because it is the book that the holy God wrote by inspiration to tell us who he is and what he does for us. He reveals himself as the holy God. When Isaiah was granted a vision of heaven, he saw angels and heard them praising God with the song: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). The Triune God is the Holy One who is revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures.

The holy name of the Triune God is given to us in Baptism because we were baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. By Baptism we bear the name of God as members of his spiritual family, and therefore, what we say and what we do reflects upon God’s name. Recently I saw a bumper sticker that may serve to illustrate this. The sticker stated, “My Child is a High School Honor Student.” Those parents were proud of the commendable actions of their child. Parents are honored when their children do well. In the same way, our God is honored when his spiritual children act and live according to his will. Conversely, a parent wouldn’t be likely to boast, “My child is on the warden’s good behavior list at the state prison.” Disreputable action of children dishonors their parents. Similarly, God’s children do not hallow God’s name when they live contrary to the Christian faith into which they have been brought by Baptism.

We keep God’s name holy among us when we use his Word correctly and live faithfully according to it. God is honored when we accept all of his Word as truth, not adding to it, subtracting from it or changing the meaning of the whole counsel of God. We hallow God’s name when we hear the Word and revere the Word, when we learn the Word and yearn for the Word. The name of God is kept holy among us when, guided by the Word, we live our lives to the glory of God.

Your kingdom come.

“‘Your kingdom come.’” – Matthew 6:10a

The Lord’s Prayer – Second Petition

God’s kingdom is Christ’s rule in the hearts of his true believers. The throne of the Lord is our hearts. He established his loving dominion over us when the Holy Spirit brought us to faith by the gospel. And ever since, the Holy Spirit has continued to strengthen our Lord’s rule in us by the power of God’s Word.

Under Jesus’ rule, we are relieved of the guilt of our sins and freed from the fear of condemnation. In God’s kingdom we have the spiritual peace of full and free forgiveness through Christ. Furthermore, we have spiritual freedom in God’s kingdom. Jesus sets us free from our fears and worries. He fills us with confidence in the truth that he is our Redeemer who bought us back from the power of Satan and freed us from painful and eternal separation from God when we die. And he fills our lives with purpose and meaningful existence as his followers by faith.

Since we are already members of God’s kingdom by faith, why does Jesus teach us to pray for God’s kingdom to come? There are three reasons: wicked Satan, the evil world, and our sinful flesh. The devil persistently strives to win us back under his dominion. The world’s sinful allurements offer many temptations. Our sinful natures weaken our faith with worries and doubts. Since the devil, the world and our sinful flesh wage constant war against our spiritual life and saving faith, Jesus teaches us to pray for God’s kingdom to come. Our Lord wants us to pray that his rule in our hearts be strengthened each day by the power of God’s Word. He wants us preserved in faith until finally we are taken from this world, where we have enjoyed God’s kingdom of grace, to heaven where we will eternally live in his kingdom of glory!

But this petition is not only a prayer for the strengthening of Christ’s rule in us now, but also a prayer that the Holy Spirit by the gospel’s message lead those who still grope in the darkness of unbelief to the light of saving faith in Christ.

When we pray this mission prayer, let’s expect that God will answer this prayer by using us to spread the saving message of Jesus Christ. God’s kingdom has come to us and we are richly blessed by its benefits. Our Lord has commissioned us to share the gospel with the world. In this way God’s kingdom comes to others.

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

“‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’” – Matthew 6:10b

The Lord’s Prayer – Third Petition

God’s will is that everyone live holy lives by obeying his Word perfectly. His will is done by the angels in heaven. God also desires that his will be done on earth by all people. But as sinners, it is impossible for us on earth to live like angels in heaven. That’s why we need the power of God working in us. God the Holy Spirit, using the power of the gospel, brings about change in our lives. Revealing Jesus to us as our Savior, he changed our hearts from unbelief to faith in Jesus. Now the Spirit continually reminds us of God’s love for us in Christ and inspires us toward lives which glorify God by striving to live more and more according to his holy will.

God’s will is done when the Holy Spirit strengthens and keeps us firm in God’s Word and in the true faith as long as we live. As an illustration, think of springtime when countless numbers of seedlings spring up from the seed fallen from mature trees. These seedlings are very tender; one can easily cut them down or uproot them. Likewise, in a spiritual sense, the devil uses his power to try to uproot our trust in Jesus as our Savior. He attacks us at our weakest moments when we are the most vulnerable. In praying for God’s will to be done, we are asking our heavenly Father to guard our faith against the attacks of Satan and help us grow stronger in our confidence and knowledge of Jesus.

Again to the illustration: tree seedlings grow; they become stronger and more deeply rooted. Yet they are threatened by the forces of nature such as strong winds, flooding waters or raging fire. Even as we grow and mature in our faith, we are often tempted by the sinful allurements around us which threaten to topple us into spiritual ruin. In this petition of the Lord’s Prayer, we are asking our heavenly Father to help us endure against sin so that we don’t lose our vital connection with Jesus.

Back to the thought of trees once more: some of the sturdiest of trees are killed from within by insects that gnaw away at their life support system. Similarly, Christians must contend with sinful natures that work to weaken them spiritually and lead them into opposition of God’s will. Jesus teaches us to pray for God’s will to be done in us because he knows the inner struggles that we have against our sinful natures.

Seedlings, growing trees, and mature trees all need the favorable conditions of warm sunshine and fertile soil. Then they will be durable and strong against all the things that threaten their existence. In the same way, Christians need God’s grace to warm their souls with the knowledge of the Savior from sin, and they need the Word of God for their saving faith to be solidly rooted and properly nourished. This is God’s will, that by the power of his Word we are preserved in saving faith until the end. We pray that God’s good and gracious will continue to be done among us.

Give us today our daily bread.

“‘Give us today our daily bread.’” – Matthew 6:11

The Lord’s Prayer – Fourth Petition

Bread is eaten by people all over the world. Because it is a mainstay of many people’s diet, it is often called the staff of life. However, we need many more things than just bread to completely supply our lives. Thus Martin Luther writes in his Large Catechism regarding this petition of the Lord’s Prayer:

When you mention and pray for daily bread, you pray for everything that is necessary in order to have and enjoy daily bread and, on the other hand, against everything which interferes with it…To comprise it briefly, this petition includes everything that belongs to our entire life in the world, because on that account alone do we need daily bread.

Scripture teaches that God supplies every physical necessity for all people. But God doesn’t just wait to be asked before he supplies our physical needs. Jesus remarked, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8). Therefore, this petition of the Lord’s Prayer is not so much a “give me” prayer, as though God were waiting for us to pray before he grants physical blessings to us. This petition is more a “thank you” prayer. Jesus wants us to realize that all of our physical blessings come from our heavenly Father and that we should receive them with thanksgiving.

Jesus emphasizes that we are to pray for “daily” bread for “today”. We shouldn’t worry about tomorrow. God, who knows our needs and provides for us today, also knows our future and is able to meet those needs as they come. Our heavenly Father constantly cares for us by his almighty power because of his love for us. Instead of worrying about what we need for our physical lives, the Savior tells us to be concerned about the requirements for our souls. He says, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). Often we become so concerned about our material needs that we let them take priority over our spiritual needs. Our efforts and energy center on what we have to do to get what we need and want for our bodies, when little do we realize how much our souls are improperly supplied. Jesus is telling us, “Let go of the concern for your physical life and supply the critical need of feeding your soul with God’s Word. While my Word supplies bounty for your soul, I will see to it that all the needs of your body are also given to you.”

With this petition Jesus teaches us to pray for greater confidence in our loving, heavenly Father that he will provide physical blessings for our lives one day at a time. We are moved to thank and praise God for his abundant favor toward us in the way that he “gives us today our daily bread.”

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

“‘Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.’” – Matthew 6:12

The Lord’s Prayer – Fifth Petition

Forgiveness of sins is so important to our life, our hope, and our faith that Jesus teaches us to pray in the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer: Forgive us our debts. Our debt to God is the enormous number of sins which we commit in our lifetime—all that we do to offend God’s holiness and all that we fail to do according to his will. Included are not only the sins which we commit in thought, word and deed, but also our sinful condition with which we are born. Can we ever pay this great debt? Not a chance!

That’s why Jesus teaches us to pray for forgiveness. This is “an appeal to God not to regard our sins and punish us as we daily deserve, but to deal graciously with us, forgive as he has promised, and thus grant us a happy and cheerful conscience to stand before him in prayer” (Martin Luther: The Large Catechism). Our appeal in this petition is based on the confidence that God richly and daily forgives our sins through Jesus, whose blood cleanses us from all sin.

It happens in this life that others offend us. People are not perfect. Friends will hurt us by what they say. Spouses will act unkindly. Others will take advantage of us. We live in a sinful world filled with sinful people, and at times we will be targeted by sinful actions or words. Jesus teaches us that as God was willing to forgive the huge debt of our sin, we are to forgive others in response to God’s love.

When we forgive people for wrongs that they did against us, we assure them that we don’t hold the matter against them and that our relationship with them in the future will not be affected by anything that they did. Forgiving someone in that way is a difficult thing to do. Our natural self wants to get even, and we have a hard time forgetting about the matter that affected us so deeply.

The only way that we can learn how to forgive freely and fully is to focus on the forgiveness that we have from God through Jesus. Because Jesus willingly took the blame for our sin, God does not hold us accountable for the guilt of our many offenses against him. And he promises that our relationship with him will always be peaceful because he will remember our sins no more.

How blessed we are that God shows us such great mercy! One way that we can show him our gratitude is to be forgiving toward others as he has forgiven us. In this regard, Jesus gives a warning: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15). If we are stubborn to forgive others when they commit an offense against us, we can’t expect God to bless us with the forgiveness of all the sins that we have committed against him. Our stubbornness reveals how we are resisting God’s love and are not following his will.

To be forgiven by God is a never-ending need. We can’t confidently walk through today and step into tomorrow without the assurance of God’s forgiveness. To be forgiving toward others is a continuing virtue that we strive to practice as a fitting response to God’s merciful love. Without forgiveness, we cannot live in loving harmony with God; without a forgiving spirit, we can’t live in peaceful accord with people.

Lead us not into temptation.

“‘And lead us not into temptation.’” – Matthew 6:13a

The Lord’s Prayer – Sixth Petition

“Temptation” is any situation in which we are led into false belief, despair or shameful sins. The devil tempted Eve into false belief. He led her to believe that God was unloving when he gave them the command not to eat from a certain tree in the garden. Satan argued that God was really withholding a great blessing from her and Adam. If they’d eat of the forbidden fruit, they would be like God. All they had to do was disobey his Word. The devil also tempted Judas with the desire for riches, which caused this chosen apostle of the Lord to fall from his privileged position. And once he had betrayed Jesus, the devil retained his victim by convincing him that there was no forgiveness for the great sin he had committed. Judas was led into such despair that he took his own life. And the devil comes with his temptations to lead people into great and shameful sins. He tempted King David to commit adultery, which led to the murder of an innocent and unsuspecting husband.

Satan skillfully uses the sinful attractions of this world to help him accomplish his evil intent. He is often successful in persuading people to pattern their lifestyle according to popular choices rather than the will of God revealed in the Bible. Satan also knows that the cravings of our sinful nature are very powerful and that with just the right temptation at the right time, he may be able to lead us into sin.

So Jesus teaches us to pray to our heavenly Father, “Lead us not into temptation.” Let’s not misunderstand this petition. God doesn’t tempt us. It is written in the book of James: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13). It is God’s will that we overcome the temptations of the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. Therefore, we pray in this petition that God would give us the power and strength to resist temptation so that Satan and sin will not control our lives and bring us to eternal death.

God’s Word strengthens our faith and gives us a powerful defense against temptation. The apostle Paul urges us to “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). Paul was thinking of the Roman war shield which was covered with leather. The soldiers soaked their shields in water before battle. These water-soaked shields helped to defend the soldiers from the enemy’s flaming arrows. By immersing our faith in the living water of the Word, we are equipped to defend ourselves from temptations. And God, our gracious Lord, assures us that he will not allow the onslaught of temptations to become so great that we will be defeated. The Bible teaches: “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Deliver us from evil.

“‘But deliver us from the evil one.’” – Matthew 6:13b

The Lord’s Prayer – Seventh Petition

Satan is the “evil one” that Jesus identifies in this petition of the Lord’s Prayer. He is the source of all the evil in this world which happens as a result of mankind’s fall into sin. That includes everything from destructive storms to devastating volcanoes, from bitter cold to blazing heat, from flash floods to disastrous droughts, from irritating insect bites to terminal illnesses, from verbal disputes to violent crimes, from minor injuries to fatal accidents, from job displeasures to job terminations, from family squabbles to family breakdowns, from everyday stress to nervous disorders, from all that does go wrong to all that could go wrong. Evil is all that plagues our bodies and shakes our souls. Evil is no respecter of persons; it comes to us all. As long as we live in this sinful world, evil will touch our lives often and sometimes in very bitter ways.

With hearts and lives wounded and scarred by the cutting edge of evil, we fervently pray in the concluding petition of the Lord’s Prayer for deliverance. Our heavenly Father is anxious to hear and answer this prayer. He delivers us from evil by either preventing it from happening to us or, if he allows it to touch our lives, making it work for our good. We cling to God’s sure promise recorded in Romans 8:28: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

It can be very disheartening to battle against Satan’s temptations and suffer the onslaught of his evil will while we wait here to enter heaven. Perhaps that’s why the early church concluded the Lord’s Prayer with a doxology: “For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever.” This reminds us that we are members of the Lord’s kingdom by faith in Christ. Satan cannot snatch us away from the One who loved us so much to die for us. Our Savior’s power will protect us, and we will someday share in his heavenly glory.

With a resounding “Amen,” we close this prayer in the confidence that our heavenly Father will answer all our petitions—that he help us to keep his name holy by obeying his Word and living according to his holy will, that his kingdom be firmly established in our hearts and be spread to others, that God’s power break the will of the devil, the world and our sinful flesh, that we receive all our physical blessings from God with a thankful heart, that God freely forgive our sins through Christ and teach us to have a forgiving spirit toward others, that he help us overcome Satan’s temptations, and that he rescue us from the evil we experience now and take us to heaven through a blessed death.

I believe in God

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” – John 17:3

I Believe in God

“I believe that the meeting is on the 15th… but I’m not sure.”
“I’m not sure. I believe that cold weather is on its way.”
“I don’t know for sure. I believe Mom is planning to have us all at her place this year.”

In our everyday conversations, sometimes the words “I believe” = “I’m not sure.”

But when Christians talk about their faith, it’s just the opposite. The words “I believe” = “I know for sure. I am confident. I know this to be true.”

What do we know for sure? What are we confident of? What do we know to be true? The Apostles’ Creed is a nice, short summary of what Christians believe. It starts with the words: I believe in God…

Jesus says to us in the Bible: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

Faith is about knowing. Knowing facts. I believe = I know the facts of who God is and what he has done for me. I believe, I know, I am confident, I am sure that God made me, saved me through his Son, forgave me through faith in Jesus Christ, gave me eternal life.

Faith is also about knowing someone. It’s a relationship. Confident trust. I believe = I know and trust this creating, saving, forgiving, life-giving God as my God because he sent Jesus Christ, his Son, for me.

In our lives, so much can be uncertain: weather, politics, conflicts across the world, our health, our employment.

Here’s something you can be certain about: that the true God is your God, that he sent Jesus Christ to die and rise again for you, and that by trusting him as your Savior you have eternal life. You can say: “I know this to be true. I am sure of it. I am confident of it. I believe in God.”