Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sinners all: but grace ...

I once heard Presbyterian theologian Andrew Purves speak of how God was like a mother cat who grabs her kitten by the neck and carries the kitten where she wants it to be. That is the way the grace of God comes to us as sinners. We can do nothing ourselves but Jesus’ death on the cross is our way into the kingdom. Bonhoeffer writes of God’s justifying grace excluding any way of our own. Christ Jesus is the only way. He writes of how it is Paul the sinner and Luther the sinner that is justified and only by Jesus death. Bonhoeffer writes:
“The content of the Christian message is not that one should become like one of the biblical characters, but to be like Christ himself. We are led to this, not by a method, but by faith alone. Otherwise the gospel loses its value, its worth. Costly grace becomes cheap. …

There is a time while God permits, warns prepares, and there is a last time when things before the last come to an end and are broken off. Luther must experience, the monastery. Paul must go through his passion for the keeping the Law, the thief must, through guilt, endure the cross, in order at last to hear the final word. A way must be trodden, the long way of things before the last must be endured, each must sink under the burden of these things unto his knees—and yet the last word is not the crowning of this way, but the total break with it. In the face of the last word Luther and Paul are no different from the thief on the cross. …”[1]
All of us are sinners and all must huddle within the grace Jesus provided through his sinless life, bloody death and bodily resurrection. There is no other place of safety.

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons, Editor and translator Edwin Robertson, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan 2005)

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