Thursday, July 18, 2013

Oh Luther, How Good of You

I have determined to finish reading Martin Luther's The Bondage of the Will before the arrival of firstborn son - mostly because 'It's now or never' (kind of), but also because I believe that somehow it will make me a better mama. Good theology is good for most things. So in those rare moments when mental clarity and need for couch-time collide, I pick it up. This morning, I lighted on a section that was worth the whole book to me. Luther was explaining what it means that all men "fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
"Now, he who glories in God is he who knows for sure that God looks on him with favour, and deigns to regard him kindly, so that what he does is pleasing in God's sight, and what does not please God is borne with and pardoned....This is the glory of those who have faith in God. To those that are without it belongs confusion of face, rather than glory, in God's presence. But Paul here says that men are wholly devoid of this glory. And experience proves that they are."
"And if this glory is wanting, so that a man's conscience dare not say with sure confidence: 'this pleases God,', it is certain that he does not please God! For as he believes, so is he... For it is precisely the sin of unbelief to doubt the favour of God, inasmuch as God would have His favour believed in with the fullest certainty of faith."
The difference between a believer and an unbeliever is that that the one has a Mediator - Christ Jesus - by which he is confident of God's constant loving favour, and the other does not. If I believe that Jesus Christ is a sufficient Mediator and yet do not believe that  I am entirely within the favour of God because of Him, I have not yet believed savingly. I start giving God glory when I believe that because Christ has died, He may be pleased with me, and because He has declared Himself ready to be so, He is.

I guess that's the gospel, isn't it? Sometimes it's most awesome when it kind of creeps up on you in a drawn-out theological argument and then explodes in your face like a pinata full of better things than candy.

Thanks for beating the pinata till the candy came out, Martin Luther. God gave you one of the best hammers. I can't wait to give some of this stuff to baby.

(Also, thank you J.I. Packer and O.R. Robertson for translating this stupendous book into English.)

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