I do love myself some Gehard Forde…
God does not come to us because we are free and responsible. He comes all the way to us because we are not and he intends to make us so. He comes to set us free and to give us that destiny which he himself has planned for us as his creatures. He comes to set us free form our bondage, our illusions, dreams, and fictions, our enslavement to our own ideals, to the law. He comes to give us the freedom to live, to bring forth life out of death.”
Gerhard Forde “Justification by Faith: A Matter of Death and Life“
The number of people who have fled the church because it is too patient or compassionate is negligible; the number who have fled because they find it too unforgiving is tragic.
Brennan Manning “Abba’s Child“
As I said last week, right now the lectionary is leading us to confront (or be confronted) by some of Jesus’ most confusing, difficult, and I would argue most misunderstood parables. The following is from Charles Spurgeon’s sermon on the Parable of the Talents. It doesn’t get much better than this:
This is THE VERDICT OF GRACE. Blessed is the man who shall acknowledge himself to be an unfaithful servant—and blessed is the man to whom His Lord shall say, “You good and faithful servant…” God first gives us Grace and then rewards us for it! He works in us and then counts the fruit as our work. We work out our own salvation, because “He works in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure.” If He shall ever say, “Well done” to you and to me it will be because of His own rich Grace and not because of our merits! And, indeed, this is where we must all come and where we must all stay, for the idea that we have any personal merit will soon make us find fault with our Master and His service as being austere and hard.”
Charles Spurgeon’s Sermon on the Parable of the Talents June 6, 1880
It’s been awhile since I’ve shared anything from my favorite Lutheran Theologian Gerhard Forde. Here’s a doozy:
The tragedy of post-Reformation Lutheranism and the theological root of its identity crisis is to be found in the persistent attempt to combine the radical gospel of justification by faith alone with an anthropology that cannot tolerate it…
This same petition proves that the doctrine of justification is the kind of thing that can never be learned completely. Therefore it is true that those who have persuaded themselves that they know it fully have not even begun to learn.
Because every day new struggles arise from Satan and our flesh or the world or our conscience, prompting us to despair, wrath, lust, and other vices, how is it possible for this weakness of ours not to keep falling or breaking? Then, too, how many concerns arise in this life that gradually make us forget this gladness? Hence it is supremely necessary that we ask God to pour or sprinkle upon us this hearing of joy so that we are not covered with the sadness that the feeling of sin brings on.”
I have to be honest. For the next three weeks the lectionary will be looking at parables of Jesus that I really dislike. There I said it! At first blush in the parables of the bridesmaids, the talents, and the sheep and goats Jesus seems to contradict everything he says (and does) throughout his ministry. Throughout his life, death, and resurrection Jesus approaches sinners with one-way love irregardless of what they’ve done. In these final parables though it seems that in the end it is all up to what we do anyway whether its keeping our lamps full of oil, using our talents (not talent like an ability) well, or giving a drink to the thirsty. Continue reading
“You do not really preach the gospel if you leave Christ out–if He is omitted, it is not the gospel! You may invite men to listen to your message, but you are only inviting them to gaze upon an empty table unless Christ is the very center and substance of all that you set before them!”