Our Faith Begins…

lamentation

Our faith begins at the point where atheists suppose that it must be at an end.

Our faith begins with the bleakness and power which is the night of the cross, abandonment, temptation, and doubt about everything that exists!  Our faith must be born where it is abandoned by all tangible reality; it must be born of nothingness, it must taste this nothingness and be given it to taste in a way that no philosophy of nihilism can imagine.”

H. J. Iwand quoted in Christian Wiman’s “My Bright Abyss” & Jurgen Moltmann’s “The Crucified God.”

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“Take Up Your Cross”

Last week I preached on Jesus’ famous interaction with Peter and disciples concerning the necessity of the cross.  Here’s the text:

Matthew 16:21-26   “21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.  22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”  23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”  24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?”

Anywho, in my research for the sermon I came across this doozy of a pic and thought I’d share it with you.

cross.obedience

Upon seeing this pic I couldn’t help but think of Richard Rohr’s words in “Everything Belongs”:

“How do you make attractive that which is not?  How do you sell nonsuccess?  How do you talk descent when everything is about ascent?  How do you talk about dying to a church trying to appear perfect?”

The simple answer is you don’t.  But how that works out in everyday church life when lights need to stay on and ministry needs to be done…  well…  I have no idea…

Tullian Tchividjian on the Theology of the Cross

Really needed to hear the last part of this quote today, but I thought I’d quote it in context:

“In the church, one hallmark of a theology of glory is the unwillingness to acknowledge the reality of ongoing sin and lack of transformation in Christians.  A sign that you are operating with a theology of glory is when your faith feels like a fight against these realities instead of a resource for accepting them…

A theology of the cross, in contrast, understands the cross to be the ultimate statement of God’s involvement in this world on this side of heaven.  A theology of the cross accepts the difficult thing rather than immediately trying to change it or use it.  It looks directly into the pain, and ‘calls a thing what it is’ instead of calling evil good and good evil.  It identifies God as ‘hidden in [the] suffering.’  Luther actually took things one key step further.  He said that God was not only hidden in the suffering, but he was at work in our anxiety and doubt.  When you are at the end of your rope–when you no longer have hope within yourself–that is when you run to God for mercy.”

Tullian Tchividjian “Glorious Ruin

Calvin at His Best

“We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ.  We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it anywhere else.  If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is ‘of him.’  If we seek any gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing.  If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth…  If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross; if sanctification, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection;… if inheritance of the heavenly kingdom, in his entrance into heaven; if protection, if security, if abundant supply of all blessing, in his kingdom; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given him to judge.  In short, since rich store of every kind of good bounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other.”

John Calvin “Institutes” 2.16.19

John Calvin on the Cross

“The cross was accursed, not only in human opinion but by decree of God’s law [Deut. 21:23].  Hence, when Christ hanged upon the cross, he makes himself subject to the curse.  It had to happen in this way in order that the whole curse–which on account of our sins awaited us, or rather lay upon us–might be lifted from us, while it was transferred to him…  The Son of God, utterly clean of all fault, nevertheless took upon himself the shame and reproach of our iniquities, and in return clothed us with his purity…  Hence faith apprehends an acquittal in the condemnation of Christ, a blessing in his curse.”

John Calvin “Institutes of the Christian Religion” II.XVI.6

Karl Barth “In View of Christ’s Cross”

crucifixion

“In view of Christ’s Cross we are invited on the one hand to realize the magnitude and weight of our sin in what our forgiveness cost.  In the strict sense there is not knowledge of sin except in light of Christ’s Cross.  For he alone understands what sin is, who knows that his sin is forgiven him.  And on the other hand we may realize that the price is paid on our behalf, so that we are acquitted of sin and its consequences.  We are no longer address and regarded by God as sinners, who must pass under judgment for their guilt.  We have nothing more to pay.  We are acquitted gratis, sola gratia, by God’s own entering in for us.”

Karl Barth “Dogmatics in Outline

Ernst Kasemann on Preaching

“Christian preaching of the cross is in a sense thoroughly inhuman, for it strips a man of his assumed dignity and unmasks him, not merely as a beggar, but as a criminal before God…  In Jesus’ cross an end is made of all earthly running and striving, from which there can follow only the new creation out of nothing, or else despair.  Its effect is to break up man before his Lord.”

Ernst Kasemann “Jesus Means Freedom