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Comfort from Johann Gerhard

March 18, 2011

I’ve heard Pastor Bill Cwirla (of Holy Trinity, Hacienda Heights, CA & The God Whisperers) mention Johann Gerhard’s Handbook of Consolations for the Fears and Trials That Oppress Us in the Struggle with Death several times, and so I asked for (and received) it for Christmas.  I was flipping through it today and found it to be very applicable in my life, even though I am several hundred years removed from Gerhard.  The book is written in the form of a dialog between the Tempted and the Comforter.

Here is #18 on The Weakness of Faith:

Tempted.  Faith is altogether required for the salutary use of the Lord’s Supper and enjoyment of the promises of the Gospel.  It is not sufficient for the sharing of alms to have only the hand of the giver but you must also have the hand of the receiver.  But truly my faith, which is to receive these gifts, is weak.  The tiny ship of my heart wavers greatly as it is tossed violently by the different storms of temptations and the firmness of my faith is overthrown.

Comforter.  Weak faith is still faith.  Faith does not apprehend Christ and in Christ the grace of God, the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life, because it is strong but because it is faith.  Yes, strong faith clings firmly to Christ.  You must not think, however, that a weak faith is rejected by Christ, for it too clings beneficially to Him.  The faithful servant of God, Christ your savior, breaks not the bruised reed nor quenches the burning wick (Isa 42:3), but receives the weak in faith most cheerfully (Rom 14:3). The smallest spark of faith is the work of the Holy Spirit because by ourselves and from ourselves we are not able to think even something good.  Indeed, to will and to do is from God (Phil 2:13).  God will not refuse His own work, which He began in your heart by the Holy Spirit, but will perfect and strengthen it.  As a mother comforts her children, so God comforts us (Isa 66:13)….

Do not be dejected in spirits because of your weak faith.  Cast your gaze on the strength of God.  He is able to water what is dry, to cure what is ill, to bend what is rigid, to warm what is cold, and to recover what is straying.  Acknowledge the weakness of your faith and lean on the divine Word as your staff.  The Word is the seed of faith and its nourishment (Luke 8:11).  Pray with Christ’s disciples, Lord, increase our faith (Luke 17:5), and with the father of the boy with an unclean spirit, Lord I believe, help my unbelief (Mark 9:24).

From → Theology

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