The Deeds of our Creed

I recently saw the following quote placed prominently in a kitchen window by a pious soul and found myself wondering what it would mean if a Christian were to take to heart what it says.

I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.  The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear.  Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear; and the best of all the preachers are the ones who live their creeds, for to see good put in action is what everybody needs. – Edgar Guest

At the most personal level, the Christian Creed is that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.  The message of our faith is “the Risen Lord Jesus Christ was crucified for sinners and raised for our justification”. 

It would seem, then that the primary deeds that go along with our creed is humble repentance and acknowledgement of our sin and the reception of the unmerited forgiveness of God offered through Christ.

We receive this forgiveness as the Holy Spirit comes to us through the Words of our Lord Jesus Christ – pronouncing us forgiven. This Holy Spirit works faith within us to believe the truth of these Words and causes us to believe that these gracious words apply to us individually and personally.

That the Holy Spirit may come to us, the Lord has instituted means, or vehicles, within creation to convey Him to us.

Our Lord has given us Baptism – as the water is poured upon our skin, there can be no mistake that these blessed words are for us. Combined with that Water is the Spoken Word announcing God’s grace to us. These elements, the Water and the Word (as the vehicle of the Holy Spirit) combine and create a generous washing that regenerates our spirit so that we believe and cling to the promises of forgiveness and eternal life granted by Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection on the third day. In our baptism, these benefits are offered to us, personally and individually.

Likewise, the Lord has given us the word of forgiveness spoken by others. We call this the Absolution. Through words that assure us of Christ’s work and forgiveness, the Holy Spirit comes to us and we receive the benefits of Christ’s work, namely, the forgiveness of our sins. This is true when the words are spoken to us privately by a family member, friend or other believer. But to give us special comfort and hope, God has placed public servants of His Word among us in the church. Whether God’s public servant, the pastor, speaks them privately to us as he counsels and advises us according to God’s Word, or speaks them in public, we ought to hear and mark these words as spoken by God Himself, for it is God who place that man in that place to speak them to us.

So, too, Our Lord bestows upon us His Holy Spirit as He feeds us with His body and His blood in Holy Communion. There, He nourishes and strengthens our faith as we receive Him in our mouths. Unlike baptism, which is a one-time washing, Holy Communion is a repeated act of receiving Christ’s Body and Blood given and shed for the forgiveness of our sins. “Do this in remembrance of me,” says our Lord (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25). Like baptism, Holy Communion is a personal and individual act of receiving what our Lord offers us through His death on the cross and His resurrection. In this act, heaven and earth are united as our Lord Jesus Christ comes into our world, among us, to work our salvation as He nourishes and strengthens our faith and gives to us His Holy Spirit.

All of this gives us hope and strength. As we receive the Holy Spirit promised and given to us through these precious gifts (Luke 11:13), we are given faith to believe the words and promises of Christ – namely that He worked our forgiveness and salvation. In that confidence, we are enabled to cast aside sin and guilt and shame and live as obedient children of God loving and serving our neighbor according to God’s design and plan (Genesis 1:28). And when we see that we have fallen and not done so perfectly, we know we have an advocate with the Father, and we can again turn in faith to Christ who has promised to save us from sin.

With all of this in mind, what are the deeds of our creed? First to be baptized and trust in God’s mercy and care as a child trusts their earthly parents. To hear God’s Word and thereby be strengthened in the power of the Holy Spirit so that we may know the good and pleasing will of God and be enable to accomplish it. To kneel at His altar and receive the nourishment and strengthening of our faith through the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And then in the strength and power that He provides, live lives of service and devotion to our neighbor, pointing always to God as our strength and our salvation – not fearing to do what is good and right in accordance with His will, no matter what the cost.

How then do we enact the desires of Mr. Guest in our opening quote?

I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way. The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear. Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear; and the best of all the preachers are the ones who live their creeds, for to see good put in action is what everybody needs. – Edgar Guest

Don’t tell your neighbor to go to church, but walk with them into the sanctuary. Allow your neighbor’s eye to see what it means to be a baptized child of God – a creature created by God the Father, almighty maker of heaven and earth, who is fallen and sinful, but yet has been restored by God’s gracious activity. Be seen and heard by your neighbor asking God’s blessing upon him, your community, your nation, and the world, even your enemies and those who hate you, as you pray the prayers of the church.

Show your humility as you thank God for all His blessings, though you are unworthy to receive them. Let your neighbor see what it means to beg God’s forgiveness for your many sins – and give him an example of how to receive that forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God, our Lord, who by His life, death and resurrection, won forgiveness and salvation for us. Together with your neighbor, hear the words of absolution spoken by one sent by God to speak in His stead and by His command.

When your neighbor has learned and understands these things, encourage him to prepare to receive the blessing of Holy Communion – accompany him frequently to the rail – and together be nourished and strengthened in your faith through the body and blood of Christ.

Preach to your neighbor by living your creed – receive from God all His benefits and His mercy and His grace. And then go forth and live as His blood-bought and forgiven child and an heir of heaven – doing good wherever and whenever you can – giving praise always to Him who gives you strength and hope to face the day. “…for to see good put in action is what everybody needs.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *