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Luther says, "When our sins and conscience oppress us, we strengthen ourselves and take comfort and say, "Nevertheless, I am baptized. And if I am baptized, it is promised to me that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body" (Large Catechism IV.44).
There are many moments in our lives when we doubt our identity in Jesus. When we experience death, when we suffer illnesses and terminal diseases, and even when we suffer the bodily repercussions of the fall into sin. We suffer rejection in society, we have relationships that fail, and we have friendships that drift apart. We see violence, murder, theft, covetousness, lust, and other great shame and vices. We suffer daily the temptations of the devil that would have us believe that Jesus didn't die for us, and that Jesus doesn't love us. Doubt is a habitual resident in our hearts because of the pressures or worries of this world, the vies of the old Adam, and the assaults of the devil. Our sins and conscience oppress us and drag us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Let us not ignore this doubt, or pretend like we don't have anxieties and worries about our place in heaven. Let is instead be honest and confess our oppression of conscience and cling to the solution for our doubt which is found only in the grace and mercy of Jesus the Christ. Let us not look to worldly gods and idols to numb the pain, but instead receive the medicine of immortality in the proclamation of the gospel and reception of the sacraments.
Let us not look to the remedies of this world, as if they would ease our conscience or overcome the terror and guilt of sin. Let us come to the cross, trust Christ, and live, for the law no peace can ever give, no comfort and no blessing, as we sing in our hymnody. However, we cannot travel back to the cross, or meditate on it enough to transport ourselves there for salvation. No. We cannot go to the cross, but rather, the gifts of the cross come to us in the means of grace. The gifts of the cross, forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation, comes to us in our baptism, in the Lord's Supper, in the Gospel preached, in absolution, and in the mutual consolation of the brethren. The cross comes to us in our darkest hours and brings us the light of the Gospel. The cross comes to us in the sewer, in our filthiest sins and brings us the purity of Christ that covers all our sins. The cross comes to us when we doubt and grants us forgiveness and restores us again to a right relationship with our Father, one of mercy and grace. The cross comes to us in holy absolution and restores us to our baptismal grace, reminds us again of who we are in Jesus, not condemned sons of wrath, but forgiven children of grace and eternity. May this Gospel truth comfort you today and every day that you face the attacks of the devil and the skepticism of the world. May the comfort of your baptism assure you that Jesus promised there to receive you into Heaven, and He never goes back on His Word.
Peace be with you this day. May the devil be silenced, the world be hushed, and the Old Adam drowned anew, so that you hear only the voice of your Savior Jesus who says, "Peace be with you. I forgive you. Welcome my good friend into life eternal, " Amen.