We're going to learn a little Latin today. The phrase I want to consider is extra nos. It simply means "outside ourselves." Something that is extra nos comes not from inside of us but from outside of us. Lutherans understand salvation to be extra nos, from the outside. We cannot by our own efforts generate faith in God. We cannot by our own efforts please God or draw closer to Him. No, he must come to us. Salvation from sin and death comes from God via Jesus' death on the cross and glorious resurrection. Likewise, faith to believe those promises comes to us from God. Baptism is something God does to us. It is extra nos. The Lord's Supper comes to us from the altar prepared by God through the pastor speaking the promises of Jesus. It is extra nos. As Luther puts it in the Small Catechism, "I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in my Lord Jesus Christ or come to Him. But the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel..." The Holy Spirit, God's Spirit, comes from outside of us to dwell in us. God repeatedly pours out His Holy Spirit upon us through His word and the Sacraments. All of these things come from outside of us.
This extra nos of the Gospel should be a great comfort to us as Christians. Why? Think about those times when you don't feel particularly good about yourself, about your sin, or maybe just about your circumstances in life. How often are we like the father of the demon possessed boy who cried out to Jesus, "I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Such difficult times can cause us to become despondent, to doubt God's care for us, or to rattle our faith in Him. If during such times we look inside of ourselves we will likely be disappointed in what we see. But God's grace and goodness comes from outside, extra nos. God the Son shed His blood on the cross to die for our sins, and the Holy Spirit delivers that forgiveness to us in God's Word, in your baptism, and in the Lord's Supper. All of those things come from outside of you. Therefore, you don't need to doubt them, since they are not from you but from God. God's word is unchanging and reliable, unlike our own words or the words of other people. Thanks be to God that He saves us extra nos.
More from the internet on extra nos:
- "Top Five Latin Phrases Every Lutheran Should Know" https://www.whatdoesthismean.org/top-5--bob-hiller/top-five-latin-phrases-every-lutheran-should-know
- Another article "Extra Nos (Outside Ourselves)" https://www.1517.org/articles/extra-nos-outside-ourselves
- If you're into rap music :) , Lutheran artist Flame has an album out actually titled "Extra Nos". You can find it various places. The lyrics are available here: https://clearsightmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/Extra-Nos-Lyrics.pdf