Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Uses of the Law (Post 1)



The knowledge of the law is at the foundation of all true faith. I hope to convince all who will candidly investigate the subject, that without a clear, distinct knowledge of the law we can have no just sentiments, no proper feelings, and no scriptural hopes.

Of all the subjects connected with faith the most rarely unfolded for the Christian eyes and ears is the law. Ignorance of the law is at the root of all those superficial views and statements, with which the Christian world stands satisfied.

In my opinion it’s scarcely possible to speak too strongly about the importance of the law. But we assume that either people are sufficiently acquainted with it or that it is antiquated, and unnecessary to be known.



The mistakes we make in reference to the law are very numerous. In reality, there are but few people who have just views respecting it.

The law lies at the foundation of all true faith. The law should be studied in the first place because it opens the way to the true knowledge of the Gospel.

Those who have never considered it might be staggered at this position. But should you come to this impression, I must request that you make your ultimate decision after reading all the posts in the series.



In Galatians3:19 Paul tells to the Jewish teachers of law that if they would make their works in any degree the ground of their hopes, they must stand altogether on the footing of the law, which prescribed perfect obedience as the way to life.

They must renounce all interest in the covenant which was made with their father Abraham, which promised life to men by believing in the Promised Seed.

The law teachers asked him, Why then were the laws given? Or, if we are not to be saved by the law, for what end did Moses give us the law? What is it worth then?



This is the question I wish to answer. First by showing the incalculable importance of the inquiry itself, and then, giving what I consider the true answer to it.

Oh, that it might please God to accompany our investigation of the law with His Holy Spirit, and to bring home the subject with power to all our hearts!

Let me ask that you who know what it is to have access to God in prayer, will aid me with your supplications for and outpouring of His Holy Spirit upon us in all our future discussions.

 


O, that all of us may so improve the present hour that in the great day when we shall stand before the judgment of Christ, we may be accepted by our God. And that I who write and you who read, may rejoice together!

May Almighty God pour open us His Holy Spirit to give to every one of us the seeing eye, the hearing ear, the understanding heart, and ultimately to guide our feet into the way of peace!



Monday, February 1, 2016

Christianity As Amoral and Irreligious Faith


“…the Christian message is basically amoral and irreligious, paradoxical as that may sound.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Christian life has two dimensions. The first is faith and the second is good work, doing God’s work on earth.

A believer should live a devout life and do what is right. But this should not be the center of one’s faith.



The first dimension of Christian life, our faith, our connection to God, is much more essential. The second dimension, or good works, is never as valuable as faith.

In today’s world, people admire Christ because He is a great teacher, the greatest ethicist. He is admired for dying for His ideals.

We take those ideals, and pay Him praise with our lips. We even go out and try to follow His lead. Doing good works for other people. Trying to make a change in our society.

But we do not take Him seriously. We don’t bring Him to the center of our lives. We don’t bring our lives into contact with the claim of Christ.

The claim that He is God. That He is the Son of God. That He existed before the time existed. That He created the world and everything in it. That He is our Lord and we must worship Him.



We don’t believe that He speaks the revelation of God. We don’t bare to believe that He is that revelation.

Do you have the courage to do it?

Do you have the strength it takes?

It is important to clarify the seriousness of this matter. To extricate Christ from the secularization process in which He has been incorporated.

We maintain a distance between Him. Take a step away from the word of Christ. And never allow no serious encounter to take place.

We live with Christ as a religious genious. As an ethicist. As a gentleman.

But when He claims our lives entirely with the full seriousness that here God Himself speaks. When He demands us to acknowledge that God once became present only in Christ.

He claims our commitment. Not relative commitment. No the church as a social club. Not the church as a social movement.

Our commitment to an absolute truth. To the absolute ruler. Our commitment to the only God.

And He has an absolute claim on our commitment.



Good works have almost always and everywhere been valued more highly than faith. They are easier to measure. And easier to see and to show to other people than abstract commitment to a “faith”.

It is true that we should go good works and respect the importance of them. There is no such thing as cheap grace.

We cannot sit still and look at our brothers’ and sisters’ suffering and claim that we have faith in Christ. That we are His children and heirs of His Kingdoms.

But in Martin Luther’s words: “…we should be careful that we don’t elevate good works to such an extent that faith and Christ become secondary. If we esteem them too highly, good works can become the greatest idolatry. This has occurred both inside and outside of Christianity. Some people value good works so much that they overlook faith in Christ. They preach about and praise their own works instead of God’s works.”

The religion is a man-made thing. It is something that people do. A building we build, so that we can sit inside, together. And feel that we belong.



But Christianity is something different. At its heart there is something different. Christ Himself – a living God. A real person.

Our faith, everything about Christianity. Is about the relationship we have with this person. This King of King, the ruler of all and everything. The creator of earth and heaven. The Father of All. The One and Only.

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer says: “Factually speaking, Christ has given scarcely any ethical prescriptions that were not to be found already with the contemporary Jewish rabbis or in pagan literature.”

Christianity isn’t about a new and better set of behavioral rules or about moral accomplishment. The religion and moral performance are the very enemies of Christianity and Christ.

They present to us the false idea that somehow we can reach God through our moral efforts. That we can be saved by our own works.


Faith should always be first.


Do not forget Martin Luther’s words: “It is faith – without good works and prior to good works – that takes us to heaven. We come to God through faith alone.”

“… a person becomes righteous by faith.”

Martin Luther