Genesis 45:16–28; 1 Corinthians 8:1–13; Mark 6:13–29
“Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that ‘an idol has no real existence,’ and that ‘there is no God but one.’ For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Cor 8:4–6).
At a catechism class I was once teaching, we were concluding our study of the Apostle’s Creed, watching a brief but wonderful video that features twenty or so respected scholars. The scholars made very clear the understanding that, as Christians, we believe in the Triune God, and that it is only through this God that there is salvation and hope for eternal life.
This brought the usual questions from the usual suspects in the class who just couldn’t grasp that we believe Jesus is the unique Savior of the world, and their argument that we are arrogant to think that ours is the one True God. I suppose few pastors will find this surprising, given the sometimes rebellious and contentious nature of seventh- and eighth-graders today. Most will also not be surprised, given the “universalism” that runs rampant in our culture and some Lutheran churches today.
St. Paul dealt with this issue in a different context, but still it revolved around the presence of idols, false gods that were worshiped alongside the Triune God. Some in his time even argued that there was nothing wrong with “fooling around” with idols, since we all know there is one True God, and the others don’t really exist. Paul will have nothing of this reasoning—suggesting, instead, that for the sake of the weak and uninformed, we ought not mess around with false gods, leading the weaker brothers and sisters astray.
And the same must be said today. We need to be firm in our understanding of the one True God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and not waver or fall into the common universalistic opinion that “there are many roads that lead to salvation,” and Jesus Christ is not “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” The Scriptures are clear and unequivocal—as Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father, but through me.” (John 14:6)
Prayer: Almighty Father, keep us firm in the faith delivered to us by the Apostles. And give us courage to proclaim Jesus Christ as the unique and only Savior of the world; through the same, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Ashes to Easter is written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel.
For more information, please refer to the Introduction to the Lenten Devotional Booklet.