Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Big Luther Quote

This is a Luther Quote (What Luther Says 4791) explaining John 14:15-16 that really dances around my fears of how any focus on the Law, including the Natural Law, might be twisted and go astray.

"[Christ says:] I do not want to be a Moses who hounds and plagues you with threats and intimidations; but I give you laws which you can and may well keep without a command – if indeed you love Me. For if this is not the case, it is futile for Me to give you many commandments; for they will stay unobserved anyway. Therefore if you want to keep My commandment, see to it that you love Me. And remember what I have done for you that you should justly love Me, since I sacrifice My life and limb for you and shed My blood for you. Therefore for My sake remain united and friendly to one another that you may jointly cling to Me with your preaching and that one may bear the other in love and not cause separation and sects. For I have honestly and truly deserved this of you. It certainly is bitter work and is costing Me my life and limb to redeem you. I subject Myself to death and cast Myself into the jaws of the devil to take sin and death from you, to destroy hell and the power of the devil. I give you heaven and all I have. I shall gladly overlook it if you fail and err at times, are weak and frail, or even fall into gross sins. Only cling to Me again, and come back to My love and forgive one another as I forgive you, so that the bond of love among you may not be torn asunder.

He begins this admonition here, but He will emphasize it further and more strongly later on; for He desires to impress this deeply on them as He leaves them. For He knew well enough that there would be many of them who would indeed boast of His name, calling themselves Christ's disciples and preachers of the Gospel, but would nonetheless think more of their own ideas, honor, and glory than of the blood and death of Christ. They would not value His grace and unspeakable love and everything He devoted to our salvation so highly as to endanger or surrender their enjoyment, their honor and power, and rid themselves of their own smartness and wisdom. They would be more interested in being considered and commended as learned and wise than in knowing what is becoming of Christ and the pure doctrine of the Gospel. Even at that time Judas had begun this movement as its head and forerunner. Then came the false apostles among the Jews and their disciples and heretics; every one of them wanted to be the smartest and to rule Christendom over the heads of the apostles and the true disciples. This continued until finally their were as many wiseacres and masters as preachers and parishes. Matters grew steadily worse and worse the longer Christendom stood. Finally they developed into the dirty dregs of the papacy."

Luther asserts here something that we in the Church need to remember. Apart from faith, apart from the fear, love, and trust in God, there are no good works. Commandments are not kept. Everything remains sin and death.

Our focus must always be the proclamation of the Gospel -- the Law that we in the Church proclaim is to be in service of the proclamation of the Gospel. That is the goal of the Church.

Now, the State - let the state deal with threats and admonitions and punishments. That is a worthy thing for the kingdom of the left. But that is not and is never the task of the Kingdom of the Right.

But what if the State is doing a lousy job? Mustn't the Church then jump in? No - because that destroys the Church. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and every abuse of the papacy was begun under the auspices of love - of exerting a little bit of temporal control in the place of the state that was failing.

If we begin proclaiming something other than Christ - be it wisdom for living the "good life", or organizing society to make the world a better place, or anything -- we lose the Gospel. We exchange the preaching that prepares for the life of the world to come or playing in this world which is perishing. And what is so scary is that we will claim we are doing it for Christ... when the whole point of the Church is proclaiming what Christ has done for us.

Christ and the Gospel is abandoned, the Word is paid less and less attention to, and our man-made solutions to temporal problems that will always plague us are passed off as the wisdom of "God".

This is what happened under the papacy.
This is what happened under the holiness cults of the Reformation.
This is what happened under Finney.
This is what happened under the Social Gospel.
This is what happened in liberal Protestantism.
This is what happened under Falwell and Robertson.

God keep us from this.
God save us from our own desire to do good... to do our own will and call it Yours.

1 comment:

Mike Baker said...

Imagine going to an emergency room, but no one is there to treat you because the doctors are all out feeding the poor... a good thing, but not the thing for which one goes to an emergency room.

Imagine going to a financial aid office, but all the people who are there are focused on fixing your marriage... a good thing, but not the thing for which one goes to seek financial aid.

.....imagine going to a church, but no one declares the Gospel to you because they are focused on other good things for which the church has not been called.

The church has to prioritize. With Biblical illiteracy what it is and a catastrophic misunderstanding of what the gospel is, how can we focus on anything else? ...even if those other things are, in and of themselves, good and proper?