Faith Praises God As Giver
Every confession of Christian faith erupts from the fact that God is a giver. Therefore, to say “giver God” is the same as saying “gracious God” and to say God is gracious is to say “faith”. That is, God is trustworthy because He is a gift-giving God. To confess God as gracious is the very well-spring of faith. Faith turns to God for every need of body and soul, in this life and for the life to come. In fact, faith has nothing to talk about apart from what is given to it by God. And what is given is everything and more, always in abundance.
But, when we start counting up the gifts, we have turned away from the Giver. We focus on what we have, what we don’t have, and how and when God is going to give us what we need. This the opposite of faith. It is garden variety unbelief. Unbelief refuses to receive anything from God as gift. Instead, unbelief turns our attention toward ourselves. What do we have? How can we protect the little we have from those who want to steal it from us? What must we do to gain more for ourselves? A god from whom we do not receive gifts is not a god at all. It is an idol. “It keeps account” (Large Catechism I, 22).
Faith praises God as giver. Worship then is nothing more or less than Christians proclaiming God and His gifts to each other and to the world. This is what the Church is all about. A divine instrument that sings “Here is Christ! Here are His gifts!” Where God delivers His gifts there is the Church, there are the faithful praising and thanking of the Giver for every good and perfect gift.
As Dr. Luther wrote in the Large Catechism: “I believe that there is upon earth a little holy group and congregation of pure saints, under one head, even Christ, called together by the Holy Ghost in one faith, one mind, and understanding, with manifold gifts, yet agreeing in love, without sects or schisms. I am also a part and member of the same, a sharer and joint owner of all the goods it possesses, brought to it and incorporated into it by the Holy Ghost by having heard and continuing to hear the Word of God, which is the beginning of entering it.”
Whatever faith has to say about God it will confess in the language of giftedness. All from God to His children on account of Christ Jesus. In Christ, the gifts are given out, through the ministry of the churches, through baptism, communion, and absolution. These are the instruments of God’s gracious love for His people, how our heavenly Father delivers to us, for free, all the benefits of Jesus’ dying and rising for our justification. This, again, is why a Christian cannot speak about faith unless he is speaking about Jesus. He cannot, likewise, speak about grace or the specific gifts through which sinners are rescued from sin, death, and hell without describing Jesus’ work for sinners and how that work is brought home to us in His Church.
Therefore, as Dr. Luther continues in his Large Catechism: “Everything… in the Christian Church is ordered to the end that we shall daily obtain there nothing but the forgiveness of sin through the Word and signs, to comfort and encourage our consciences as long as we live here. Thus, although we have sins, the [grace of the] Holy Ghost does not allow them to injure us, because we are in the Christian Church, where there is nothing but [continuous, uninterrupted] forgiveness of sin, both in that God forgives us, and in that we forgive, bear with, and help each other.”
Gospel, forgiveness, faith, grace, Church, ministry, are all ways of saying, “God is gracious.” That is, as Dr. Luther concludes: “The Father gives us all created things, Christ gives us all his works, the Holy Spirit all His gifts” (Large Catechism II, 69). God’s gifts create faith and bring a Christian into the resurrection where he will no longer need to seek the forgiveness of sin.
God is a giver, and He just loves to keep on giving His gifts of forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation into sinners’ hands for Christ’s sake. He gives His gifts to every Christian. His gifts create Christians. His gifts deliver the benefits of all Jesus’ work for us, to us in the present tense where He locates Himself for us in the Church. Gifts that declare us righteous for Christ’s sake. Gifts that declare us a holy people before our God and Father. This is why every confession of Christian faith erupts from the fact that God is a giver.