What Christ gives

There’s few things quite like a good dose of Luther to help one hear afresh that word which kills in order to make alive. Here’s two passages that I’ve been reflecting on today:

‘Christ gives grace and peace, not as the apostles did, by preaching the Gospel, but as its Author and Creator. The Father creates and gives life, grace, peace, etc.; the Son creates and gives the very same things. To give grace, peace, eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, justification, life, and deliverance from death and the devil—these are the works, not of any creature but only of the Divine Majesty. The angels can neither create these things nor grant them. Therefore these works belong only to the glory of the sovereign Majesty, the Maker of all things’. – Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4 (Edited by Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 31.

‘Christ, however, declares here: “Let it be your one concern to come to Me and to have the grace to hold, to believe, and to be sure in your heart that I was sent into the world for your sake, that I carried out the will of My Father and was sacrificed for your atonement, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and bore all punishment for you. If you believe this, do not fear. I do not want to be your judge, executioner, or jailer, but your Savior and Mediator, yes, your kind, loving Brother and good Friend. But you must abandon your work-righteousness and remain with Me in firm faith.” – Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 23: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 6-8 (Edited by Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 58.

Ah! Good news!

On giving and receiving

Miroslav Volf contends that we are incapable of giving anything that obliges God to reciprocate. For what do we have that we did not receive? Obligation? God’s or ours? Here’s a thought from Volf: ‘But rather than receiving something God needs but doesn’t have, what God receives is delight – the lover’s delight at the sight of the beloved whose very existence is that lover’s gift. What God also receives is pain – the lover’s pain when love has been betrayed.’ The point is that we are incapable of offering God a gift in such a way that will move him to be other than he is already… totally towards us in grace.