Saturday, June 7, 2008

Something to Brag About.


The theology of self glory is running rampant in this Purpose Driven, Best Life Now, and Christian Hedonistic Church where Christ crucified is seldom the main topic of sermons. It is no wonder one can usually hear another trotting out his or her sanctified life as some sort of encouragement. Granted good works and victory over some temptations is part and parcel of a Christian’s life. In fact these works are incidental since we have God’s Name placed on us in the waters of Holy Baptism.

Galatians 6:14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. ESV

Why all the bragging as if it is the work of the Christians instead of the Spirit of Christ delivering the fruit of the cross to us? As mentioned earlier it is the Christian centered sermons which are so living under the law based the cross is hidden and that which Christ won for us is minimized. When one however, is hit upside the head with the law it is a dismal outcome. The law when it is presented to us in all its crushing accusation will terrify the reader or hearer of even his or her salvation. And they should be terrified if they look to their works for anything with God. Nothing new about this problem:

Martin Luther in his Heidelberg Disputation stated:

By so much more are the works of man mortal sins when they are done without fear and in unadulterated, evil self-security.

He further comments: The inevitable deduction from the preceding thesis is clear. For where there is no fear there is no humility. Where there is no humility there is pride, and where there is pride there are the wrath and judgment of God, for God opposes the haughty. Indeed, if pride would cease there would be no sin anywhere.

So we see the good that a believer does is sin which the Lord hates because of the pride associated with it when it is done to gain merit with God. This is why we should never look to our good works to gain anything from God. Jesus did all the good works necessary for our being pleasing in God’s sight. This is liberating for we do not have to be concerned about how much our works are done out of love for God and how much because we may like the person we are serving. We are set free to do that which is pleasing in God’s sight not in order to please Him.

Thanks be to God. †

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post! This is the glorious freedom of the Cross! When this Gospel 'hits' you, Christ FOR YOU, when it really hits - good works open up in a way one never expected. For one you stop demarcating and differentiating and numerating “good works”. Good works become good because Jesus has done all of them for us and He says our works are good, not by our efforts to more and more “purify them” from our strength. Then one suddenly sees good works are quite normal and earthy; as Luther says elsewhere everything the Christian does is a good work because it comes from the good tree of faith, even eating and sleeping and not just the “churchyard box or piety”. A theology of glory cannot in ANY sense conceive of a good work that is as little as raking leaves for a theology of glory is faithless and only looks to the works done in the church or with a very high religious attachment to them.

Luther said once that faith cannot help but to do good works they flow naturally from it, it is ceaseless in doing them. That use to confound me before when I was stuck in my theology of glory, it terrified me. I was confounded why that comforted Luther, but that was before the Gospel ‘sunk in’ and firmed up FOR ME. Then it struck me that due to the objectiveness of the Gospel, once the eyes of the soul capture that, or rather ARE CAPTURED (HAD) BY IT, faith fixed on Christ alone (or Christ arrests faith I suppose is more accurate); once that IS its true faith cannot cease but to do good works. However, it is not as the old man supposes them. In fact the exude from faith so seamlessly and so unrecognized as “happening”, because faith is so fixed on Christ alone, that they are hardly observed or spoken of and they are of a very earthy kind and the whole of the Christian life. To make an analogy a man of GREAT faith, fixed on Christ alone for him, is doing tons of good works without his conscious knowledge as he goes about his normal day, when he mows, when he takes care of the home, when he eats and sleeps. While rank unbelief in another man is working its way to hell doing great feats of evangelism and churchyard duties. A theology of glory will at this moment rage against those two statements and say, “WHAT, are you against evangelism!” Hardly, what I’m saying, but making a point about the danger of false faith and its attachment to only the BEST of works, religious at that. It displays its false faith in a certain defined type of doing and work in which is does and so rages when its idol is attacked. It cannot grasp that one ordinary man has extraordinary faith doing his normal called duties all his life that are mostly quite earthy and normal and be in the kingdom, while another man may give his entire life and energy to doing evangelism, missions and other church yard duties and all the time not trusting in Christ alone at all, merely working his way to perdition. So dangerous are the most outwardly beautiful and religious looking works to the soul of fallen man. For man finds no glory in sweeping the floor, but faith just does it resting in Christ alone. But a man finds great glory for himself when working in the church, yet faith GREATLY fears such works. For the theologian of glory really doesn’t trust (faith) in Christ alone but secretly in his/her doing something great for God.

ONLY faith realizes that all that it does is good works, yet it doesn’t really actively “realize it” so fixed on Christ it remains. It never dons on this faith that sleeping is anything less than a good work because it trusts that Christ has performed all righteousness for it and its works are good because Christ SAID they are, NOT because it “exercises its muscle” to do them.
A theology of glory Vs. a theology of Cross.

Yours,

Larry KY

steve martin said...

David,

A home run! A tape measure shot!

Putting Christ and His work forward against all comers is the task, my Friend, and you have done that here.

Thank you very muchly!

- Steve M.

Anonymous said...

You are right, St. Dave. It IS liberating. :)

- St. Andy

Brent Gordon said...

Excellent!
Brilliant article. Nice follow up from Larry.
I'm reading ' On Being a Theologian of the Cross' by Forde.
Wonderful distinctions of the the theologies of glory and the cross.
I'll put this blog on my routine check in.
Thanks!
Brent